By STEVE LeBLANC, Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — The candidates for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts have raised more money from supporters than in any other election in state history — or any other Senate race in the country this year — and Election Day is still more than three months away.
The amount collected by all candidates in the race pitting Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown against Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren through the end of June has topped $46.7 million, according to an Associated Press review of campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
That's not only more than the nearly $44.4 million spent during the entire 2010 special Senate election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of longtime Democratic U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, it's also the most that Democratic and Republican supporters have injected into any other Senate race nationally this cycle.
The bulk of the money in the Massachusetts contest — including millions in out-of-state donations — has come from supporters of Brown and Warren, the only candidates left in the race, signaling the importance both national parties have placed on the race.
There are other reasons for the huge fundraising totals.
Warren, a Harvard Law professor who pushed for the creation of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is a hero among liberal Democrats hoping to reclaim the so-called "Kennedy seat" in Massachusetts
Republicans hoping to hold onto that seat are as equally enchanted with Brown, a former state lawmaker who shocked the political establishment with his surprise win in the 2010 special election.
Both parties see the outcome of the contest as key to control of the Senate.
The amount being poured into Massachusetts is easily outpacing other top Senate races.
In Virginia, about $20.6 million has been collected by candidates in the race pitting Democrat Tim Kaine against Republican George Allen. In Missouri, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and her GOP rivals have collected more than $19 million.
In Nevada, Republican Sen. Dean Heller and his challengers — one Republican and several Democrats — have pulled in close to $16.4 million, while in Montana, Democratic Sen. John Tester and the GOP candidates hoping to unseat him have raised nearly $14.8 million.
The totals collected in other closely watched Senate contests including Nebraska (nearly $9.7 million) and North Dakota (about $7.1 million) also fall far short of Massachusetts, according to FEC records.
The Massachusetts totals are even more impressive given that neither Brown nor Warren have loaned their campaigns any money.
The $46.7 million raised in the Massachusetts Senate race also tops the nearly $40.8 million collected by candidates running for Massachusetts governor in 2006 election cycle, when Democrat Deval Patrick was elected, as well as other high-profile U.S. Senate elections in the state.
By comparison, as of the end of June, Brown reported total donations of more than $19.9 million, while Warren has pulled in more than $24.5 million, in what could end up being the most expensive Senate race in the country, not counting money raised and spent by outside groups.
The totals include nearly $2.5 million Brown collected from political action committees and the more than $440,000 Warren accepted from PACs.
Both campaigns have criticized their opponents' fundraising.
The Brown campaign has tried to portray Warren, who has received donations from Barbra Streisand and Danny DeVito, as part of a Hollywood and liberal elite, and someone who doesn't represent most Massachusetts residents.
During the most recent quarter, Warren raised about 60 percent of her larger donations from outside Massachusetts, while Brown received about 40 percent of his larger donations from outside the state.
The Warren campaign in turn has highlighted contributions Brown has collected from Wall Street, saying he's beholden to big banks.
The contributions come in donations as small as $10 or $20 up to the maximum allowed under federal campaign finance law. Donors are allowed to give up to $2,500 for primary and another $2,500 during the general election.
Both campaigns say they'll have enough money to get their message out before Election Day.
One reason why both candidates are stockpiling such huge stockpiles of cash is an agreement they signed earlier this year designed to discourage outside groups from running attack ads on television, radio and the Internet.
Still, the mind-boggling sums raised by both candidates have left some voters scratching their heads.
"Is it necessary to raise that amount?" said Herb Lozano, a 23-year-old youth coordinator from the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. "I don't know anyone who would give $2,500 to a Senate candidate."
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