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Florida Senate Race Leads Nation in Fundraising

The Republican primary race for a Senate seat from Florida is one of the most watched in the nation, and the fundraising numbers released Tuesday morning are matching those lofty expectations.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist pulled in $2 million for the last three months of 2009 and has $7.5 million in cash on hand, with no outstanding debts.

"We have received phenomenal and broad support from Florida voters," Crist campaign manager Eric Eikenberg told Fox News. "We continue to get unwavering fundraising donations as our supporters help us spread Gov. Crist's positive message of less government, low taxes, and a market-based approach to health care.

"As the next U.S. Senator from Florida, Charlie Crist will continue to fight for what is best for all Floridians and will work to fix the broken government in Washington," he added."

Meanwhile Crist's opponent, conservative Marco Rubio, continues to keep pace with Crist, raking in $1.75 million in the same period with $2 million cash on hand. For all of 2009, the former speaker of the Florida House has raised $3.4 million for the entire year.

"We feel great about Marco's fundraising and are well ahead of our financial goals. Having said that we still expect to be continually outraised throughout by Charlie," a Rubio campaign insider told Fox News. "People may call Charlie a lot of things but a lousy fundraiser has never been one of them." 

Senior Rubio campaign adviser Todd Harris added, "Charlie Crist's fundraising advantage is quickly disappearing, especially given the fact that more than $2.5 million of his cash on hand is general election money." 

The latest polling shows the Florida Senate race tightening. Rubio has gone from a 31 point underdog in June to neck and neck with Crist.

According to a survey of 673 GOP voters released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University, Rubio was favored with 47 percent of the vote to Crist's 44 percent, a statistical tie.

Other major fundraisers for the last quarter of 2009 include Ohio Republican Rob Portman, a Senate candidate who raised $1.4 million. Among Democrats, Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who is facing a tough re-election bid, raised $1.3 million in the 4th quarter.

The Florida race is pulling in big bucks as Republicans across the country -- from the grass roots level to organizations -- are pouring money into the state.

"We're on pace in meeting our goals, and I am as confident as ever that we will have the resources to deliver our message and be successful," Rubio said. "As we look to the long road ahead, I pledge to continue speaking with a clear voice on behalf of the ideals that are uniting voters across Florida behind our cause."

Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.