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Incumbants rake in cash

Democratic congressional candidate Jim Esch touted his campaign's recent fundraising success Tuesday, but five-term incumbent Republican Lee Terry held a nearly $500,000 advantage in ready cash.

Nebraska's two other incumbent congressmen also enjoyed big leads in campaign fundraising.

Candidates were required to file updated campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission by Tuesday. The reports covered the period between April 24 and June 30.

In the Omaha-based 2nd Congressional District, Esch is trying for a second time to oust Terry. He lost to Terry by about 10 percentage points in 2006.

Esch said he raised $139,290 and had $140,799 cash on hand.

Terry raised $187,708 for the period, and he reported having $616,942 in the bank.

Esch said the amount he raised since April 1, $219,465, was more than was raised in any single three-month period by Terry's 2004 opponent, Nancy Thompson, whose biggest three-month tally was $204,103.

"I'm glad to be off to a record pace," said Esch, who entered the race in February.

Responding, Terry campaign spokesman Dave Boomer said that Esch started his fundraising late and that Thompson's campaign had significantly more money in the bank at the same point in that race. Thompson had reported $299,243 cash on hand as of June 30, 2004.

Boomer also said Terry's war chest would enable him to unleash a full range of broadcast advertising and direct mail leading up to the November election. He predicted that Esch wouldn't have the resources to counter the Republican.

Esch said his campaign is just hitting its stride. At this point in 2006, Esch had only $46,137 cash on hand.

"We're light years ahead of where we were two years ago," he said.

In Nebraska's other House races, both incumbents held significant cash advantages.

• Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who represents Nebraska's 1st Congressional District, reported raising $61,680 in the period, with $374,962 cash on hand.

This was the first time that Fortenberry's opponent, Max Yashirin of Lincoln, reached the level of fundraising that requires an FEC report, so Yashirin was reporting all of his fundraising to date. Campaign manager Michael Schaecher said that the total was $11,930 and that the Democrat had $4,946 cash on hand.

• In the 3rd District, Republican Rep. Adrian Smith raised $87,289 during the period and had $323,094 cash on hand.

Campaign spokesman John Hoehne said Smith's strong fund-raising numbers reflected his broad support in the western Nebraska district.

Democratic candidate Jay Stoddard of Grand Island said he has yet to raise $5,000, the level of contributions that triggers FEC reporting requirements. Stoddard said he considers expensive campaigns unnecessary and said he would have the resources to get his message out.

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