Blackburn bests Fincher in fundraising for Tennessee's U.S. Senate GOP primary

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention on Thursday in Cleveland, Ohio.

NASHVILLE - United States Rep. Marsha Blackburn outpaced U.S. Senate GOP primary rival Stephen Fincher in fundraising by more than half of a million dollars during the fourth quarter of 2017, according to figures released by both campaigns Thursday.

Blackburn, a Brentwood Republican, announced that she raised $2 million in the contest to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

Fincher, who is a former congressman from Frog Jump in West Tennessee, said he raised $1.45 million.

Blackburn jumped into the race Oct. 5 after Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, announced he would not seek a third term. Fincher announced his candidacy Oct. 22.

The fourth quarter fundraising period was from Oct. 1 through Jan. 31.

photo In this June 17, 2015, file photo, Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. Democrats eager to take control of the Senate next year are turning to Tennessee, where a popular Democratic ex-governor is running for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Republican Sen. Bob Corker. Neither of Tennessee's top GOP candidates, Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former Rep. Fincher, has the kind of personal baggage that Senate candidate Roy Moore had in Alabama. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Blackburn's campaign said the eight-term congresswoman's total cash on hand for the Aug. 2 Republican primary was $4.6 million after she transferred funds from her Congressional account to a new Senate account.

Fincher served three terms in Congress and didn't seek re-election in 2016. Like Blackburn, he pulled money from his House campaign account and moved it into his Senate effort. His campaign said he has $3.7 million.

In a statement, Blackburn said she's "honored to have such strong grassroots support from Tennessee families. Voters across Tennessee are joining our team because they understand I am a card-carrying Tennessee conservative who will help President Trump drain the swamp."

The campaign cited recent statewide polls they say demonstrate the Blackburn campaign "clearly has the momentum in the primary and is in the best position to defeat Phil Bredesen in November."

Former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen announced in December that he was seeking the open seat and Democrats are hoping to wrest victory in a seat that's been held by Tennessee Republicans since 1994.

Fincher, meanwhile, vowed: "I promise, we are just getting rolling. We enter 2018 with momentum to win the nomination. We will not be outraised, and we will not be outworked."

Blackburn's campaign says 5,852 individual donors gave to her campaign during the fourth quarter, giving an average of $341.

Fincher's campaign manager, Thomas Midanek, former director of battleground states for the Donald Trump for President campaign and regional political director in the White House Office of Political Affairs, called Fincher's figures "the kind of fundraising performance you see from candidates who go on to win statewide election.

"We are already hitting 2018 with a highly organized, aggressive fundraising program that other candidates in either party will be hard-pressed to keep pace," Midanek said.

Fincher has tapped Kim Kaegi as his chief fundraiser. Kaegi, the principal at Kaegi Resources, has done similar work for Tennessee Republicans including Corker, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, Gov. Bill Haslam and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson.

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.