WASHINGTON – Congressional candidates spent a record $911.8 million in last year's races, and several 2006 contests are already showing signs they will carry big price tags.
A dozen of the 33 senators up for re-election next year had $1 million or more in their campaign funds as of October, the most recent figures they provided, Federal Election Commission (search) figures show.
The money leaders include Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (search) of Texas, who had $6.6 million on hand she could use for a 2006 re-election bid or possibly to run for Texas governor. Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (search) of New York had amassed nearly $5.3 million for her 2006 campaign by fall, and Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy (search) had accumulated $4.2 million.
Other senators with $1 million or more already on hand for 2006 races included California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, $2.8 million; Florida Democrat Bill Nelson and Indiana Republican Richard Lugar, $2 million each; Ohio Republican Mike DeWine and Vermont independent James Jeffords, just under $2 million each; Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow, nearly $1.8 million; Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona, nearly $1.7 million; Pennsylvania Republican Rick Santorum, $1.4 million; and Virginia Republican George Allen, $1.2 million.
The hard-fought South Dakota race that forced Democratic leader Tom Daschle (search) out of the Senate and put Republican John Thune in was 2004's most expensive Senate matchup, an FEC analysis released Monday shows. Daschle and Thune spent a combined $33.8 million, with Daschle pouring in $19.7 million and Thune, $14.1 million.
A $9 million incumbent-versus-incumbent contest caused by redistricting in Texas was last November's costliest House race. Democratic Rep. Martin Frost spent $4.6 million on his unsuccessful effort to defeat Republican Rep. Pete Sessions, who spent $4.4 million.
In all, House and Senate candidates who competed in the Nov. 2 general election raised $985.4 million and spent $911.8 million, and increase of roughly 20 percent over 2002, the FEC analysis of campaign finance reports the 2004 candidates filed in December found.