U.S. Rep. David Wu has announced he's raised $219,000 in the first quarter of 2011, a key barometer for the troubled Democratic congressman as he faces a strong prospect of a tough opponent in his party's primary next year.

Yet Wu's numbers also show he has not retired nearly $50,000 in previous campaign debt. Though campaign debt can be carried forward indefinitely, that means Wu's $219,000 figure is a bit inflated for the first three months of 2011. Although Wu claims he has $172,790 in cash after expenses, it might be more accurate to say he has $125,000 in cash when taking into account the debt.

In politics, however, all things are relative. Wu, in a press release mailed to reporters last night, boasted that the fund-raising total was "one of the strongest first quarters" of his career. But it is also true Wu has had far more cash on hand at this point in the election cycle in the two prior cycles. As WW wrote on March 31, the final day of the first quarter:

"In 2009, in the lead-up to his successful 2010 re-election, Wu raised $75,000 in his first quarter but had $300,000 in cash, FEC documents show.In the prior election cycle, in 2007, Wu raised close to $100,000 in the first quarter, but had more than $500,000 in cash, according to FEC files."
Brad Avakian