RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democrat Tim Kaine is outraising his Republican opponent, George Allen, in Virginia's Senate race, but a conservative outside group is stepping to Allen's aid with $1.1 million in new television ads attacking Kaine as a big spender.
Campaign finance reports show Kaine raised $3 million from April through June compared to slightly more than $2 million Allen raised in the same quarter.
That leaves Allen with about $3.3 million in the bank four months before the Nov. 6 election that could determine which party rules the Senate, and Kaine with $2.7 million on hand not counting $3.5 million already paid to reserve television ad time.
Contributions to candidates are only a piece of the overall political puzzle, particularly since a Supreme Court decision two years ago struck down a federal law restricting independent political activity and advertising.
The ruling opened the door for groups acting independently from political parties or campaigns to raise and spend unlimited sums on so-called issue advocacy ads. Some are clearly political attacks, but not subject to federal campaign spending regulations because they don't specifically advocate the election or defeat a candidate.
One such group, the pro-Republican Crossroads GPS, is airing the ads attacking Kaine's support of the stimulus package. Crossroads GPS and its sister organization, American Crossroads, have targeted Virginia and several other battleground states, airing ads that attack President Barack Obama and Kaine.
The ad accurately notes Kaine's enthusiastic support for the federal stimulus package Obama put in place in a bid to revive the economy. As chairman of the Democratic National Committee at the time, it was Kaine's job to travel the nation and appear on television saluting the president's initiatives.
The ad, however, overlooks billions of dollars in cuts Kaine and the General Assembly were forced to make after the recession began draining Virginia's tax collections. It also ignores Allen's role during his prior term in a Republican controlled Senate in support of spending that added trillions of dollars to the federal debt.