Texas Democratic Senate Hopeful Rakes in the $$$

Democratic Senate hopeful Ron Kirk raised $1.8 million for his campaign in the previous three months, topping the $1.7 million Republican John Cornyn brought in, according to campaign finance reports due Monday to the Federal Elections Commission. 

Kirk also reported spending $1.4 million from April 1 to June 30, while Cornyn spent $896,000. At the end of the period, Cornyn had $3.8 million cash on hand, nearly three times Kirk's $1.3 million. 

Cornyn, the Texas attorney general, and Kirk, former Dallas mayor and secretary of state, are locked in a cing. Because Democrats control the chamber by one vote, the race has generated nationwide interest. 

Kirk hauled in more money from contributors outside Texas than Cornyn, fueling the Republican's argument that Kirk has spent too much time fund raising in other states. 

"Cornyn is running to be the senator representing Texas," Cornyn's spokesman Dave Beckwith said. Of Kirk, he said: "This guy thinks he's the senator for the United States." 

Beckwith said that more than 95 percent of Cornyn's individual contributors are from Texas, but he could not immediately provide the percentage of total contributions from Texas. 

Kirk's spokesman Tim Warner said 79 percent of Kirk's individual contributors are Texans and 79 percent of all money came from Texans. 

"Ron Kirk is 150 percent dedicated to Texans and the state of Texas," Warner said. 

The reports show that Cornyn has out-raised Kirk overall, bringing in $5.8 million since the beginning of the campaign, compared with Kirk's $4.8 million. 

President Bush flew to Dallas in March to help Cornyn raise $1.4 million. 

Beckwith attributed Kirk's lead in the last quarter to a series of out-of-state events, including a coast-to-coast tour hosted by former pro basketball star Magic Johnson and actor Billy Baldwin in Los Angeles, former Texas Gov. Ann Richards in New York and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY, in Washington. 

Most recently, Kirk supporters have recruited former President Clinton to help raise money for Kirk this week in New York. 

Warner, however, said the boost illustrates growing enthusiasm for Kirk's candidacy. 

"This is going to be a long, hard-fought, very close election," Warner said. "Ron Kirk is going to be exceptionally difficult to out-hustle."