Virginia Senate race is nation's most expensive

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Photo - Democratic candidate Tim Kaine and Republican candidate George Allen face off in a debate for the Virginia U.S. Senate seat on Sept. 20, 2012. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner)
Democratic candidate Tim Kaine and Republican candidate George Allen face off in a debate for the Virginia U.S. Senate seat on Sept. 20, 2012. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner)
Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

When all the cash is counted, Virginia is likely to win the distinction of having had the nation's most expensive Senate race.

The campaigns of Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine raised a combined $30 million, the fourth-highest total of any Senate race this year. But outside interest groups pumped nearly $48 million more into the state, hoping to sway a contest that could decide which party ends up controlling the Senate.

That nearly $78 million spent so far in Virginia is the most spent in any Senate contest this year. Only the presidential race has attracted more money, the Center for Responsive Politics reported.

Top spending in Senate races (in millions)
Rank State Candidates Outside Total
groups
1. Virginia $30.1 47.8 77.9
2. Massachusetts 65.4 5.2 70.6
3. Ohio 32.4 32.5 64.9
4. Wisconsin 17.7 39.7 57.4
5. Connecticut 44.7 9.5 54.2
6. Pennsylvania 28.1 2.6 30.7
7. Montana 18.9 23.3 42.2
8. Florida 18.9 18.8 37.7
9. Missouri 22 7.9 29.9
10. Nevada 17.8 Zero 17.8
Source: Center For Responsive Politics

Neither Kaine nor Allen raised as much money as the Senate contenders in Massachusetts. The campaigns of Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Republican Sen. Scott Brown raised a total of $65.4 million. But outside groups spent only about $5 million in Massachusetts, so that race ranks behind Virginia's in total spending.

The second-heaviest spending by outside groups in a Senate race was in Wisconsin, where former Gov. Tommy Thompson, a Republican, is battling Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin. Outside groups spent nearly $40 million there, but the campaigns themselves injected just under $18 million, putting total spending at $58 million, or about $20 million less than in Virginia.

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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