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With Self-Funder as Foe, Noriega Raises $570K

State Rep. Rick Noriega, running for the Democratic Senate nomination against wealthy attorney Mikal Watts, raised $570,000 in the third quarter and expects to report about $500,000 in cash on hand, his campaign revealed this week.

That total leaves him significantly behind Watts, who has performed well on the fundraising circuit and loaned a healthy chunk of his own fortune to his Senate campaign.

Watts’ third-quarter numbers were unavailable at press time Wednesday, but the San Antonio trial attorney announced in mid-September that he had loaned another $3.69 million to his primary campaign account, bringing the total he has loaned himself thus far to $7.5 million.

However, the Noriega campaign remains pleased with its effort.

“Rick Noriega’s strength is his story,” campaign manager Sue Schechter said in a statement.

According to Noriega’s campaign, the $570,000 he raised in the third quarter is better than three of the Democratic challengers who went on to beat Senate Republican incumbents in the 2006 elections — including now-Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Jim Webb (Va.).

In September, when Watts announced he was loaning his campaign another $3.69 million, he pledged that all funds he raised in the future would go to his general election account and be reserved for battling incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R).

“Mikal proved his fundraising ability when he raised raised over a million dollars in the first 30 days of his campaign,” campaign spokeswoman Kim Devlin said. “We’re very confident we’ll have the resources necessary to run an aggressive, modern campaign, and tell the people of Texas about the kind of positive change Mikal Watts will bring to Washington as Texas’ next United States Senator.”

— David M. Drucker

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