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Rep. Carolyn McCarthy fundraising jumps amid gun debate

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy says she will be treated

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy says she will be treated for lung cancer. (2011) Credit: Howard Schnapp

WASHINGTON -- Amid the national debate on firearms restrictions in the wake of the deadly Newtown school shootings, gun-control advocate Rep. Carolyn McCarthy nearly doubled her campaign cash this year by raising $317,000, most of it in small online donations.

Meanwhile, Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) put his money where his mouth is: He gave $450,000, most of the money he raised this year for his own campaign fund, to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which he chairs.

Both lawmakers reported fundraising and spending in campaign finance filings with the Federal Election Commission on Monday.

Peggy May, McCarthy's campaign treasurer, credited online campaign donations from people across the country, who gave as little as $5 to support McCarthy's gun-control activism, which her campaign website features.

Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics that tracks money in politics, said McCarthy (D-Mineola) is tapping into growing small-donor funding.

"She would be an obvious candidate because of her brush with gun violence and her ability to personify the issue," Krumholz said.

More than 80 percent of the donations to McCarthy by individuals were less than $200, so the campaign did not have to identify those donors by name. Among those she did identify, half live outside New York State.

McCarthy has $635,156 to run next year, records show.

As DCCC chairman, Israel has the task of trying to win at least a net of 18 seats in the 2014 election so Democrats can take control of the House. Historically the president's party loses seats in his second term. Israel said he raised $577,128 for his congressional campaign fund, and gave $450,000 to the DCCC. His campaign now has $260,331 in the bank.

Israel also helped his cause by raising $82,400 jointly with the DCCC through the Steve Israel Victory Fund. Donors gave $72,800, most of the money raised, to the DCCC.

"I'm surprised. That speaks volumes about his confidence in his own fundraising ability," Krumholz said.

Israel said he was "focused on helping to elect problem solvers and middle-class solutionists across the country. My contribution to the DCCC is an important investment in this endeavor." His office said the first-quarter fundraising of this year was one of his best.

On the list of vulnerable Democrats for next year's election, Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) raised $181,363 and has $145,485 in cash.

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