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Senate Money Rolling In

Ten Most Competitive Races Have Numerous Well-Funded Candidates

In the 10 Senate races that are likely to decide which party controls the chamber after next November 2004, 14 candidates have more than $1 million to spend with a little more than a year left in the cycle.

Of the 10 seats, half are open (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Illinois and Oklahoma); Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) round out the list.

The reports, which were due to be filed with the Federal Election Commission by midnight Wednesday, cover contributions and expenditures from July 1 to Sept. 30.

The Illinois open-seat race, created by the retirement of freshman Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R), features the largest collection of well-financed candidates, as it has all cycle.

Five potential nominees have more than $1 million on hand, led by wealthy businessman Blair Hull, who donated $2 million to his campaign in the period, and ended it with $1.7 million on hand.

State Comptroller Dan Hynes (D) actually has more money left to spend ($2.1 million) after raising $932,000 in the quarter. State Sen. Barack Obama (D) raised an impressive $775,000 between July and September and had a solid $1.5 million in the bank. Former Chicago School Board President Gery Chico (D) also continued to impress with $579,000 raised in the third quarter and nearly $1.2 million on hand.

Among Republicans, investment banker-turned-teacher Jack Ryan (R) led the way with a $657,000 take — $250,000 of that in the form of a personal loan. He has given his campaign $1.25 million so far this year and had previously pledged to pitch in up to $6 million. Ryan ended September with just more than $1 million on hand.

In several other open-seat races where competitive primaries are expected, one candidate generally held a substantial fundraising edge.

In Georgia, Rep. Johnny Isakson (R) continued his torrid fundraising pace, bringing in $551,000 and banking just over $3 million.

By contrast, Rep. Mac Collins (R-Ga.) raked in $267,000 and had $583,000 left to spend.

Earlier this fall, Collins had to fend off rumors that his sluggish fundraising was an early signal that he would not ultimately make the race.

The third Republican candidate — black businessman Herman Cain — raised $215,000 and netted $76,000.

Democrats do not yet have a serious candidate in the race to replace Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.). Former Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) has rejected repeated entreaties to run and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young backed away from the race suddenly after appearing to be an all-but-announced candidate.

Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), as well as Rep. Jim Marshall (D) are mentioned as potential contenders.

In South Carolina, state Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum soundly outraised Columbia Mayor Bob Coble in the first battle of their Democratic primary war.

Tenenbaum, the favorite of national Democrats, raised $327,000 in the quarter and ended it with $317,000 on hand.

Coble had a much less successful showing, bringing in just $115,000 and banking $81,000.

Both Democrats continue to be outraised by the three serious Republicans seeking to replace retiring Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.).

Rep. Jim DeMint (R) led the pack with $426,000 raised for the period and $1.1 million on hand.

But former state Attorney General Charlie Condon continued to surprise with his ability to stay within shouting distance of DeMint.

Condon, who placed third in a Republican gubernatorial primary in 2002, raised $411,000 in the past three months, closing September with $824,000 remaining in his coffers.

Charleston developer Thomas Ravenel (R) raised just $104,000 with $649,000 on hand. Just before the June 30 filing deadline, Ravenel loaned his campaign $1 million.

Among potentially endangered incumbents, Murray had the strongest quarter, bringing in $1.6 million; she closed September with $3.3 million in the bank.

Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.), her likely general election opponent, had a much less impressive period, raising $370,000 and ending September with $244,000 on hand.

National Republicans have touted Nethercutt as one of their best challenger candidates.

Among Republican incumbents seen as potentially vulnerable, Bond raked in $1.5 million, bringing his remaining cash total to $4 million.

Missouri state Treasurer Nancy Farmer, the likely Democratic nominee, was unable to keep up with Bond in her first quarter of active fundraising, but managed a respectable $428,000 raised. She retained $384,000.

Specter, who faces a primary challenge from Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), raised $1.4 million and ended September with a whopping $9.3 million on hand.

Toomey, a three-term lawmaker from the Allentown area, brought in $780,000 and had $1.8 million left to spend.

Both Specter and Toomey are already advertising and their expenditures reflect the active campaign. Specter just launched a radio ad noting that Toomey has been asked to return more than $500,000 he raised from fellow House Members during his competitive 2002 re-election race, which he did not spend and has since transferred to a Senate account.

Specter spent $747,000 in the past three months while Toomey dished out $490,000.

In Alaska, former Gov. Tony Knowles (D), who entered the Senate race in mid-summer, almost matched the fundraising of Murkowski since July 1, but the GOP Senator had a significant cash on hand edge.

Murkowski brought in $534,000 to Knowles’ $475,000 in the past three months. She banked $1.2 million to Knowles’ $310,000.

Lauren W. Whittington, Jessica L. Brady, Caroline Shuckerow and Inga Beyer contributed to this report.

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