Cantwell big bucks break record


Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Democratic Senate candidate Maria Cantwell shattered the Washington state record for campaign spending more than a month before the November election, she disclosed in campaign records Friday.

Cantwell spent $1.9 million in September, bringing the total spending in her effort to defeat incumbent Republican Sen. Slade Gorton to more than $6.1 million. That tops the previous record of $5.6 million spent by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray for her 1998 race.

Most of Cantwell’s campaign money comes from the wealth she gained as a senior vice president at RealNetworks Inc. Cantwell gave her campaign $2.3 million last month.

In all, 89 percent of Cantwell’s campaign cash — $6 million of the more than $6.7 million she has raised — has come from her own wallet.

Gorton’s campaign spending report for September was not available Friday. His campaign said he would release it today, the day the report is required to be postmarked to the Federal Election Commission.

Ellis Conklin, Cantwell’s campaign spokesman, said Cantwell will spend about $8 million for the campaign, with about $7 million of that coming from the candidate.

Conklin said Gorton will outspend Cantwell, probably by about $4 million, when independent expenditures by interest groups and unregulated contributions from political parties are factored in.

Gorton’s spokeswoman, Cynthia Bergman, said she didn’t know how much the Gorton campaign will spend but said that Cantwell will spend more, especially when outside expenditures are factored into her campaign’s total.

"It’s clear that Maria Cantwell is just attempting to buy the election, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she spent another $5 million despite what they say," Bergman said.

The $1.9 million Cantwell spent last month went mostly for TV commercials blanketing the state. She closed September with about $603,000 in cash and $156,000 in debts, according to her report.

Cantwell has not accepted contributions from political action committees or political parties, according to her FEC report.

The only money that didn’t come from her own bank account this year was about $735,000 in individual contributions.

Conklin defended Cantwell’s use of her own money for the campaign.

"For some reason the media seems to focus its complete attention on Maria Cantwell’s wealth," Conklin said. "She’s not using PAC money, she’s flying solo. She’s not using soft money, she’s working without a net. Washington state voters are going to respect that she won’t be beholden to any special interest group once elected."

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