Democrat Ilya Sheyman's fundraising efforts in the first two months of 2012 topped those of his rivals for the 10th Congressional District seat, newly released documents show.
Donors sent Sheyman more than $237,044 between Jan. 1 and Feb. 29, according to a campaign disclosure report filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Fellow candidate Brad Schneider placed second in fundraising in that period, collecting more than $131,571 in donations.
John Tree was a distant third, with $30,958 in campaign contributions. Vivek Bavda rounded out the pack with more than $27,160 in donations.
Sheyman's efforts to coax money from political supporters even outdid those of Republican incumbent Robert Dold, who reported $199,258 in donations. But with an estimated $1.3 million for the general election fight ahead, Dold's campaign war chest is nearly three times larger than all of the Democrats' accounts combined.
Political candidates for federal office must regularly file financial reports with the FEC. The documents can be found online at fec.gov.
Sheyman, of Waukegan, has collected more than $669,484 from donors. In the last two months, he reportedly spent about $201,446 on the race, leaving his campaign with about $242,369 in the bank.
The report shows Sheyman has received more than $59,000 in donations through MoveOn.org, the liberal activist group with which he once worked. Many other donations have come through the Council for a Livable World, a nonprofit group opposed to nuclear weapons.
In a memo sent to Sheyman supporters, campaign manager Annie Weinberg celebrated the report.
"Thanks to prudent resource allocation, the Sheyman for Congress campaign entered the final three weeks with a significant cash-on-hand lead over all our opponents combined," she wrote.
Schneider, of Deerfield, has collected more than $666,417 during the campaign. He spent $373,373 on fliers and other expenses in January and February, more than any candidate in the race.
"I'm proud to have the support and confidence of so many individuals," Schneider said in a news release. "We have worked hard to get our forward-looking message to the voters across the district, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive."
Among Schneider's most significant donors this past period was a political action committee called The New Democrat Coalition, which gave his campaign $10,000.
Schneider ended the period with nearly $209,736 in the bank.
Tree, of Long Grove, entered the race later than the other candidates and hasn't caught up when it comes to fundraising. His campaign reportedly has brought in nearly $99,139 overall, far behind Sheyman and Schneider.
Team Tree spent about $80,292 during January and February, ending the period with about $7,009 in the bank.
"It certainly has been challenging to raise money this past quarter." Tree acknowledged in an email. "The fact that I got in to the race late as compared to the other candidates and also significant donor fatigue are contributing factors."
Tree said his campaign is relying on interviews, debates and "heavy use of social media" to spread his political message.
As with the other candidates, most of Tree's donations came from individuals. He also received $250 from Lake County Board member Michelle Feldman's campaign committee, $250 from a Democratic Party leadership group called Deep Blue and $1,000 from a group called Veterans' Alliance for Security and Democracy.
Bavda, of Mundelein, has collected only $43,954 since entering the race. He reportedly spent about $27,161 in the last period, starting March with $816 in the bank.
All of the donations Bavda reported this period came from individuals, and only one was more than $1,000 -- not counting two donations totaling $3,500 Bavda personally made to the campaign.
He said his campaign team has put out one mailer. They are focusing on meeting people at homes and train stations, and they're using social media, traditional media and automated calls to build name recognition, he said.
"The name will be out there enough," Bavda said.
Dold, of Kenilworth, hasn't needed to focus on fundraising yet because he doesn't have a primary opponent. Regardless, he's far better equipped to buy TV or radio advertising, commission polling or pay campaign staff than any of the Democrats at this point.
The 10th District includes parts of Lake and Cook counties. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Dold in November.