U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, D-5th District, is demonstrating a strong financial advantage among Democrats in the 2012 U.S. Senate race, raising twice the money as Susan Bysiewicz for the third straight quarter.

State Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford, who made a splash in July by collecting a quick $565,572 in his first weeks as a candidate, reported raising only a paltry $155,000 in the past three months.

The campaign finance reports for the three-month period ending Sept. 30 are not due until Saturday, but the Democratic contenders for the open seat released summaries Thursday and Friday.

Tong’s fundraising prowess was the source of the initial buzz surrounding his candidacy, so the disappointing results and his low name-recognition in recent polling are bound to raise questions about his viability as a candidate.

Linda McMahon and Chris Shays, the two big names in the race for the Republican nomination, have only just begun fundraising. Shays’ ability to raise money to compete with McMahon will be tested for the first time in January.

Bysiewicz and Murphy each opened their campaigns the week of Jan. 17, when Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman announced he would not seek re-election after 24 years in office, giving Connecticut its second race for an open seat in two years.

In the three-month period ending Sept. 30, Murphy raised $650,000 to $321,812 for Bysiewicz. Overall, Murphy now has outraised her, nearly $2.7 million to $1.2 million. His advantage in cash on hand: $2 million to $843,553.

Jonathan Ducote, a spokesman for Bysiewicz, said her resources are adequate, even if she is trailing Murphy.

“It’s about having enough. It’s not about having a ton,” Ducote said.

Bysiewicz still enjoys high name recognition and recent polls show her competitive with Murphy, so the financial disadvantage should not raised questions about the viability of her candidacy, he said.

Murphy and Bysiewicz each share one trend noted in campaigns across the country: fundraising is getting more difficult as voters grow more pessimistic about the U.S. economy. Each quarter has seen diminishing results.

Murphy raised $1 million in the first quarter, $899,557 in the second and, now, $650,000 in the third. Bysiewicz raised $500,851 in the first, $426,990 in the second and $321,812 in the most recent period.

“I think it’s a long summer for a lot of candidates,” said Marc Bradley, Tong’s campaign manager.

But the fall will be most critical for his candidate. Lacking name recognition, Tong badly needs to demonstrate resources.

“It’s a campaign we’re building on,” Bradley said. “We’re looking forward to the next quarter.”

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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