With less than three weeks remaining before the primary election, Jerry Moran has nearly $1 million more in cash and has raised nearly $90,000 more in the second quarter than Todd Tiahrt, his chief opponent in the Republican race for the U.S. Senate.
The candidates are spending at an apparent record pace, according to figures made available from campaign finance reports the two congressmen filed this week with the Federal Election Commission.
Moran has spent more than $3 million on his campaign so far, while Tiahrt has spent more than $1.74 million.
For a Senate primary campaign in Kansas, "this is going to be the most expensive one on record," said Kansas State University political science professor Joe Aistrup.
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Furthermore, Moran, of Hays, and Tiahrt, of Goddard, aren't finished. The biggest advertising push will come in the final two weeks before the Aug. 3 primary.
"People are going to get really tired of all the television and radio ads," Aistrup said.
Moran closed the second quarter June 30 with $2.27 million in cash on hand to Tiahrt's $1.28 million, according to the federal reports.
Moran's lead in cash available for the primary is actually about $800,000 when general-election funds are taken into account, Aistrup said. Money given for the general election can't be used for the primary campaign.
Aistrup predicted both candidates will spend all the money they have available now, plus any still being raised.
If so, Moran and Tiahrt would combine to spend more than 10 times the amount poured out in the last competitive primary for a Senate seat in Kansas.
That came in 1996, when Sam Brownback defeated Sheila Frahm in the Republican race and went on to win the general election. They combined to spend $681,000 through mid-July of that year.
Moran and Tiahrt now seek the Senate seat that Brownback vacated to run for governor.
Factoring in inflation, that $681,000 would translate into $922,000 in 2009 dollars, according to the Historical Statistics of the United States.
"The amount of money it takes to run a credible campaign these days is enormous," Aistrup said.
Money flowing into campaigns has grown significantly over the years, reflecting an increase in activity from a variety of sources.
"Whether it's the family values networks or the business types or just regular citizens," Aistrup said, "more people are giving money."
Spending picked up significantly during the second quarter.
Moran spent $1.75 million during that period, more than half of what he has spent for his campaign so far. Tiahrt spent nearly $662,000 in the second quarter, almost one-third of his total spending.
Moran's campaign started with more money. The cash on hand for both candidates reflect amounts carried over from fundraising during their congressional races. Moran carried over $2.4 million; Tiahrt $1 million.
Net contributions for Moran since his campaign's inception total $2.83 million. Tiahrt has brought in $2 million since his campaign started.
The federal report showed Moran's campaign had net contributions during the second quarter of $535,000 and Tiahrt had $446,000. That was the most Tiahrt's campaign has raised in a quarter, Tiahrt spokeswoman Michelle Schroeder said.