Big cash spent in AZ, PA, MA Senate race reports

WASHINGTON -- Republican candidates for the Senate in conservative-leaning states generally outraised their Democratic opponents in the latest fundraising quarter ending Sept. 30, but Arizona proved an exception as former surgeon general Richard Carmona raised nearly $500,000 more than Republican Jeff Flake. Self-funding Republican Tom Smith is pouring millions of his own money into the contest in Pennsylvania. And in Massachusetts, Democratic Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren's $12 million haul has helped keep the Massachusetts contest the most expensive Senate race in the nation.

The reports painted a pricey picture in this year's nationwide race for control of the Senate, which hangs on a few tight races including Nevada, North Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio.

Republicans are still searching for the four-seat gain they need to win the majority. And though the reports are only one test of political strength, they are viewed as a key indicator of viability when so little else is known about so many races four weeks out from Election Day.

In conservative Arizona, Carmona's report showed that he raised $1.8 million between early August and the end of September, while Flake reported raising nearly $1.3 million. The Flake campaign maintained a slight edge in cash on hand, though. The race has turned nasty in recent days with Flake's campaign airing ads that feature's Carmona's former boss at the Department of Health and Human Services accusing Carmona of having "issues with anger, with ethics and with women." Meanwhile, Carmona has aired an ad attacking Flake as a lawmaker who helps himself and not veterans.

In Pennsylvania, Republican Tom Smith not only outraised Democratic incumbent Bob Casey but put another $10 million of his own money into the campaign, a gamble that he can pull off an upset in a race that polls indicate is tightening.

Smith, the former owner of a coal company, has now loaned his campaign a total of $16.4 million. He also raised more than $1.6 million, versus $1.5 million for Democrat Bob Casey.

And in Massachusetts, Warren's $12 million haul dwarfed Republican Sen. Scott Brown's reported $7.5 million take for the three-month period. Brown still had a nearly $3 million advantage in cash on hand. Polls continue to show a tight race between Brown, who won a January 2010 special election to succeed the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy, and Warren, who helped to create the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington.

Meanwhile in Indiana, Republican Richard Mourdock raised $3 million compared to $1.5 million from Democrat Joe Donnelly. That left Mourdock with about a $400,000 edge in cash heading into October.

In Montana's tight race, Republican Denny Rehberg raised about $2.4 million, just slightly ahead of the pace from Democratic incumbent, Sen. Jon Tester, who raised $2.3 million. Rehberg also had a cash-on-hand advantage of about $400,000 for the stretch run.

And in North Dakota, Republican Rick Berg and Democrat Heidi Heitkamp each raised about $1.6 million for the quarter, but Berg's advantage going into the quarter left him with $1.5 million in the bank compared to about $600,000 for Heitkamp.

In the swing state of Wisconsin, Democrat Tammy Baldwin demonstrated a distinct financial edge, raising about $4.6 million in the quarter versus $3.6 million for Republican Tommy Thompson. She pushed her cash-on-hand advantage to $1.5 million going into the final five weeks of the campaign.

Meanwhile, in Nevada, Republican Dean Heller raised slightly more than Democrat Shelley Berkley, $1.9 million to $1.7 million. He also had a $1 million cushion going into October.

In Ohio, Democrat Sherrod Brown also generated some separation financially from Republican Josh Mandel by raising $5.4 million in the quarter versus about $4.6 million from Mandel.