Republican Rand Paul's campaign raised and spent $7.5 million as the tea party favorite emerged from near political obscurity to win a U.S. Senate seat from Kentucky.
His Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, kept pace partly by
dipping into his own bank account.
Conway lent his campaign slightly more than $1 million on his
way to spending $7.2 million in a losing cause, according to his
post-election campaign finance report. Conway has recouped about a
third of his loans.
Paul, a Bowling Green eye doctor, won by double digits last
month to succeed Republican Sen. Jim Bunning.
The millions didn't come close to the $30 million-plus spent by
the two candidates in Kentucky's 2008 Senate race, when Republican
Senate leader Mitch McConnell defeated Democratic challenger Bruce
Lunsford, a wealthy businessman.
University of Kentucky political scientist Stephen Voss said
Friday that Paul's clear-cut advantage as the favorite, along with
the high number of competitive races nationally, helped contain
fundraising in the Kentucky race.
"Other than making Rand Paul a serious contender, I don't think
money mattered much at all," he said. "It's a conservative state
in a conservative election year. A Republican was almost certain to
win that Senate seat."
Paul, a first-time candidate who portrayed himself as a
political outsider, tapped the Internet for a series of Web-based
fundraisers that kept cash flowing to his campaign. He also
capitalized on fundraising connections through his father, longtime
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a libertarian icon and former presidential
That proved especially crucial early in the GOP Senate primary
campaign as Paul built his credentials as an advocate for steep
budget cuts, low taxes and limited government that caught on with
voters angry with federal bailouts and deficit spending. Paul
defeated Secretary of State Trey Grayson, an establishment
Republican, in the May primary.
"Normally a guy like Rand Paul would not have had any money,"
Voss said. "But because of the network he was able to tap, partly
because of the growth of the tea party and partly because of his
father's name recognition, he had the money to mount a serious
Paul's finance report shows he collected nearly $7.6 million in
contributions during the entire election cycle. His total receipts
amounted to $7.75 million, which included money from other sources.
He collected slightly more than $1 million in contributions
during the stretch run from mid-October until the election - when
he and Conway inundated the airwaves with commercials.
Conway's report shows he received $6.2 million in total
contributions and spent $7.2 million.
He loaned his campaign slightly more than $1 million and was
paid back $375,000 before the election. He has been repaid $16,300
more since the election. Conway was a Louisville attorney before
his current job as state attorney general.
A Conway spokeswoman did not immediately offer comment when
asked about any plans by Conway to recoup the loans.
The state Democratic Party currently has no plans to help Conway
pay back the loans, said state party spokesman Matt Erwin. The
party did help cover some costs for Conway campaign events meant to help Democrats down the ticket, he said.
Conway took in more than $800,000 in contributions from
mid-October to the election and lent his campaign $200,000 during
that time to help finance his campaign's final push. His campaign's
total receipts amounted to $7.4 million.
Money spent by both candidates was only part of the equation, as
outside groups poured cash into the race.
Paul was the main beneficiary, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
and an alliance with ties to one-time President George W. Bush
political adviser Karl Rove ran TV ads portraying Conway as a
liberal backer of President Barack Obama.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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