ByÂ David Sherfinski-The Washington Times
TheÂ U.S. SenateÂ contest in Virginia between DemocratÂ Tim KaineÂ and RepublicanÂ George AllenÂ is far and away the most expensiveÂ SenateÂ race in the country in terms of third-party spending, underscoring the closeness of a race thatâ€™s essentially been tied from the outset and its importance in determining which party will control the chamber come January.
With less than two weeks until Election Day, outside spending in the race â€” excluding party committee money â€” now stands at more than $28 million, with theÂ U.S. SenateÂ contest in Wisconsin between RepublicanÂ Tommy G. ThompsonÂ and DemocratÂ Tammy BaldwinÂ coming in second at just over $23 million, according to theÂ Center for Responsive Politics. Those races, along with the Ohio matchup between DemocraticÂ Sen. Sherrod BrownÂ and Republican challengerÂ Josh Mandel, are the onlyÂ SenateÂ campaigns in the country to crack the $20 million mark when money spent by party committees is excluded.
The $28 million Virginia figure is more than the campaigns ofÂ Mr. AllenÂ andÂ Mr. KaineÂ have spent combined. Among the third-party cash, slightly more than $10 million has been spent either in support ofÂ Mr. KaineÂ or in opposition toÂ Mr. Allen, while $16.5 million has been spent opposingÂ Mr. KaineÂ and $1.5 million forÂ Mr. Allen.
With such a closely watched race in a state President Obama andÂ Mitt RomneyÂ are heavily courting, the level of outside spending is not surprising, saidÂ Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of theÂ University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, which runs FactCheck.org.
â€œThereâ€™s nothing special about Virginia,â€ she said. â€œThe interesting research question is, â€˜What kind of synergy do you get from the fact that thereâ€™s a presidential race andÂ SenateÂ race that are both very consequential?â€™ â€œ[If] you get that, you essentially have every ad addressed againstÂ KaineÂ addressed against Obama.â€
Mr. AllenÂ has attempted to capitalize on the connection between Mr. Obama andÂ Mr. Kaine, leading off the third and final debate between the candidates last week by asserting that he would be â€œVirginiaâ€™s senator,â€ as opposed toÂ Mr. Kaine, who he said would merely be a rubber stamp.
The candidates are also tangling over who is more likely to help break the partisan divide in Washington.Â Mr. Allen, for example, paintsÂ Mr. Kaineâ€™s decision to serve as chairman of the Democratic National Committee in his final year as governor as an unforgivable abdication of his duties to serve in an overtly partisan role.
Mr. Kaine, meanwhile, has consistently pointed to derogatory remarksÂ Mr. AllenÂ has made about Democrats in the past, such as encouraging Republicans in 1994 to knock Democratsâ€™ â€œsoft teeth down their whiny throats,â€ as emblematic of the current bickering and gridlock on Capitol Hill.
The two have frenetically barnstormed the state, speaking to senior citizens about their views on Social Security and Medicare and to small businesses and defense contractors about looming defense cuts that could devastate Virginiaâ€™s military-rich economy.Â Mr. KaineÂ has a 1-point lead in the latest Real Clear Politics average of polls, and both campaigns insist that the race will stay neck and neck through to Election Day.
To read more, visit:Â http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/oct/25/virginia-race-sets-senate-spending-records/#ixzz2AP7njZtY
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