Record Fundraising Expected in NY Senate Race

July 7, 2008 - 8:25 PM

( - New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton are expected to set a fundraising record as they challenge one another for what is expected to be the most expensive Senate race in the nation's history.

Campaign finance reports, filed late last week, show the mayor has raised $19.3 million through the first three months of this year while Clinton has accumulated $12.8 million. An estimated 50 percent of the money has come from out of state contributors. The mayor has received money from every state except North Dakota while Clinton's funds have come from 46 states.

Larry Markinson, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics that analyzes campaigns and their funding, said the figure is likely to exceed $50 million. Others contend, with the addition of so-called special interest soft money, the figure could hit or exceed $100 million.

"This is a national race. This is going to be to the world of the Senate, what George W Bush was to the world of running for president," Markinson said.

Bush, the governor of Texas who decided he would not take federal matching funds during the primary season, has raised an estimated $80 million.

Markinson characterized the Giuliani-Clinton contest as a "double lightning rod race," and added, "Both of the candidates are capable of stirring strong emotions in people."

In the first three months of this year and despite plummeting polls over the way he has handled recent police shootings, Giuliani has raised $7.3. million compared to the $4.3 million raised by Clinton.

Despite the disparity, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said, "There is no doubt we are going to raise everything that we need to compete and win...we're going to be right on target."

"The first lady has a broader household recognition. There's nobody in this country who doesn't know who she is, and probably, there's nobody in the country who doesn't have strong feelings either for or against her, and I think that's what Giuliani has tapped into," Markinson said.

Both candidates are spending freely with Giuliani dolling out $5.6 million this year compared to Clinton's $2.8 million.

The most expensive Senate race in history occurred in 1994 when California Democrat Diane Feinstein spent $13.9 million in defeating Republican Michael Huffington, who spent $29.4 million, for a total campaign expenditure of $43.3 million.

The second most expensive Senate contest was the 1998 face-off between New York Republican Senator Alfonse D'Amato who spent $24.2 million in losing to Democratic US Representative Charles Schumer who spent $16.7 million, for a total campaign outlay of $41.9 million.