WASHINGTON – Democratic challenger John Kerry (search) raised more campaign cash than President Bush last month and spent more too, but started June with millions less on hand than the incumbent as a summer of campaigning begins.
Kerry spent $32 million in May and opened this month with about $28 million left, according to a monthly campaign finance report he filed Sunday with the Federal Election Commission (search).
Bush spent $22 million last month and started June with $63 million on hand, according to his latest FEC report.
Both candidates have been raising and spending money at a record pace. Each has poured tens of millions into ads in battleground states since Kerry emerged victorious from the Democratic primaries.
Kerry has set a party record with at least $148.5 million raised, including roughly $6 million in loans, and just under $121 million spent. Bush has set a presidential record with at least $218 million raised and $152 million spent.
Kerry has been holding fund-raisers for weeks to rebuild his finances after the Democratic primaries. The Massachusetts senator took in about $31 million last month through events, online donations and mailed contributions.
Bush stopped holding fund-raisers for himself in April and has started raising money for other Republicans. He collected about $13 million last month through Internet and mailed contributions.
Each man is free to raise as much as he can until his party's nominating convention this summer — late July for Kerry, late August for Bush. The two candidates skipped public financing through the primaries, freeing themselves from the program's spending limits.
Both are expected to accept full government financing for their general-election campaigns. Those will start once they are nominated by their parties.
Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader (search) and the national party fund-raising committees have also filed campaign finance reports with the FEC. Those show:
— Nader has raised just under $1 million and spent nearly all of it, starting June with about $73,000 in the bank and just under $25,000 in debts.
— The Democratic National Committee started June with $50 million in the bank after raising about $15 million in May and spending $7.4 million.
— The Republican National Committee finished May with $72 million on hand. It raised $20 million and spent about $12 million last month.
— The National Republican Congressional Committee, raising money to try to keep a GOP majority in the House, began this month with about $19 million left after raising $6.7 million and spending about $6 million.
— Its Democratic rival had nearly $12 million on hand after raising about $5 million and spending just over $4 million last month.