Massachusetts Congressional candidate Sean Bielat raised roughly $175,000 in the first quarter of 2012, according to a campaign spokesperson. The numbers, while still an estimate, push the Fourth District Republican contender over the $200,000 mark with the election still seven months away.
"We're really thrilled with that number," the campaign's communication director Sarah Rumpf said.
Bielat, a former marine turned consultant and technology executive, is considered the frontrunner for his party's nomination in the race for the seat left vacant by retiring Congressman Barney Frank '61-'62. He will likely face off against Democrat Joseph P. Kennedy in the general election this fall.
The 2012 race is not Bielat's first bid for the Fourth District Congressional seat. He ran against Frank in 2010, losing by 11 points—the closest margin the district had seen in years.
Though the 2010 race drew a great deal of national attention and brought Bielat's campaign widespread party support, polls have shown Kennedy with an early two-to-one lead.
Bielat's campaign raised almost $2.5 million during the last election, but the vast majority of those funds were raised after the party primary, according to Rumpf. The campaign's first quarter fundraising total is roughly equal to what the campaign earned through the summer of 2010 during the last race, Rumpf added.
Rumpf said the campaign has reason to be optimistic. They have already received donations from roughly 1900 individuals, matching the 2010 total, and have seen an early increase in volunteers, she said.
"We're obviously not going to be able to compete with the Kennedy fundraising machine," Rumpf said. "But we've got the foundation we need to get our message out to voters."
Kennedy has not yet released his first quarter fundraising totals. The campaign declined to offer a date when they might be released, but indications are that the numbers could be considerably large. Drawing on the support of his family name and connections, Kennedy has already held major fundraisers in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, in addition to numerous events around the Fourth District.
Both Bielat and Kennedy hold Harvard degrees. Bielat earned a master's degree form the Harvard Kennedy School while Kennedy graduated from Harvard Law School.
—Staff writer Nicholas P. Fandos can be reached at email@example.com.