McMahon keeps Senate race spending on record pace

WASHINGTON-Republican Linda McMahon put another $7.5 million of her personal fortune into her U.S. Senate campaign over the last three months, helping to ensure the Connecticut contest will be among the most expensive in the nation.

McMahon’s loans to her campaign in the 2nd quarter of this year brings her total investment in the race so far to $21.5 million, according to campaign finance reports due today that cover activity from May through June, along with an earlier report showing her April campaign finances. McMahon ended the reporting period with more than $3.2 million cash on hand.

Her Democratic rival, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, has raised $1.6 million in the last three months and had $2.1 million in the bank at the end of June.

McMahon spent about $8.6 million in the last three months, bringing her total expenditures so far this election to more than $18 million. She spent about half of that–$4.3 million–in one month alone, from April 1 to May 1. Blumenthal spent about $1 million in the last three months and so far this election, he has spent more than $1.3 million. He has made no personal loans to his campaign and listed no debts.

Blumenthal’s campaign used the reporting deadline to get in a dig at McMahon’s self-funded bid.

“Our campaign will be outspent but we won’t be outworked. The people of Connecticut deserve an election, not an auction and they deserve a Senator who’s going to fight for them and put their interests first,” Michael Cacace, Blumenthal’s campaign chairman said in a statement.

McMahon’s campaign spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. But her campaign has said in the past that McMahon’s decision to use her own resources and accept only small donations would ensure her independence from special interests.

McMahon, the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, has said she will spend as much as $50 million of her own money on the race. McMahon is accepting only small campaign contributions-$100 or less-from other donors. In the last three months, she has raised about $27,000 in such contributions.

In addition to her general election foe, McMahon, the GOP-endorsed candidate, is still fighting a two-pronged primary challenge. Financial investment advisor Peter Schiff, who successfully petitioned to get on the Aug. 10 primary ballot, raised nearly $450,000 in the last three months.

Schiff spent more than $1.1 million in that period. He ended June with about $483,000 cash on hand, but his report also showed a debt of $550,000 that he lent the campaign.

Rob Simmons, a former 2nd District Congressman, raised more than $110,000 in the last three months, despite halting his campaign at the end of May. Once McMahon had locked up the GOP endorsement, Simmons suspended his campaign but decided to keep his name on the ballot.

Of the funds he raised last quarter, Simmons’ campaign has returned about $32,000 to donors, his report shows. He spent about $618,000 in the last three months, and at the end of June, he still had more than $885,000 in the bank.

Simmons, in a brief interview, said he had not held any fundraisers since he shuttered his campaign office. And Jim Barnett, Simmons’ former campaign manager, said refunds have gone to anyone who has asked, as well as those who may have given right as he announced his decision to stop campaigning and who may not have known he was ramping down.

Barnett said the campaign will have to return more money-any funds given to him specifically for the general election, as opposed to the primary-once the Aug. 10 vote is tallied and is clear he will not be the nominee.

The U.S. Senate contest is shaping up to be one of the most expensive in the nation, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group that track money in politics. Even before this most recent set of fundraising reports were filed, Connecticut’s contenders for this seat had raised a combined $23.4 million, the third highest total in the country, according to the CRP tally. And the race was at the top of the list in terms of money spent, with the candidates spending a total of $18.7 million, outpacing other competitive contests in Arizona, California, and Nevada.