U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has continued to shatter all Kentucky fund-raising records with an eye-popping bounty of $17.8 million in total donations, forcing Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford to dig deep into his vast personal fortune.
The tightening race is by far the most expensive political campaign in Kentucky history and is now among the most closely watched nationally, considering McConnell is the Senate Republican leader.
So far, McConnell's campaign has spent $12.6 million — more than twice the $5.8 million the Lunsford camp has shelled out.
Of the nearly $7.1 million that Lunsford has raised, $5.5 million has been from his personal bank accounts, allowing him to keep pace with McConnell on the television airwaves in recent weeks.
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With 19 days left before Election Day, the critical number for the campaigns going forward is cash on hand, said Kim Geveden, a Democratic campaign consultant.
Lunsford had $1.24 million as of Sept. 30, according to his campaign finance report filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission.
McConnell reported starting October with more than $5.7 million that he could tap.
"To put that in some kind of context, a heavy TV buy in all markets including Cincinnati (which covers Northern Kentucky) probably runs you in the neighborhood of $500,000 per week," said Geveden, who helped run the campaign of Lunsford's primary opponent, Greg Fischer. "That still gives McConnell $600,000 more each week to use for radio, direct mail and telephone calls."
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