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    Nelson has money lead over rival in Senate race


    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 17, 2000

    online poll
    WEEKLY POLL: Which would you rather watch on TV Tuesday night: the final presidential debate or Game 6 between the Yankees and Mariners?

    HOT POLL: Should the U.S. retaliate against the terrorists responsible for the suicide bombing of the USS Cole?

    As they enter the final stretch of their U.S. Senate race, Democrat Bill Nelson has a fundraising advantage of more than $730,000 over Republican Bill McCollum.

    Their latest campaign finance reports illustrate the cost of waging a statewide television campaign in Florida, with both candidates expected to spend at least $1 for every registered voter.

    Since September's primary, both candidates have aired a steady stream of television ads, and both spent more than $2.2-million between mid-August and Sept. 30. Both also raised more than $1-million during the period, U.S. Rep. McCollum finishing it with $1.6-million cash on hand and state Insurance Commissioner Nelson with $2.3-million.

    With McCollum having raised a total of less than $6.5-million, his oft-repeated promise to raise and spend $10-million to $12-million on the race looks hard to keep. But it's still unknown how much the Republican Party will pump into the campaign above the $1.5-million McCollum has said he has already been assured. The Nelson campaign, which monitors TV buys, said Republicans late last week bought more than $3-million worth of television time on McCollum's behalf.

    Both McCollum and Nelson have decried the use of unrestricted soft money contributions to their campaign, even as they created special campaign committees that allow them to skirt the restrictions imposed on direct candidate contributions. As of Sept. 30, McCollum's McCollum Victory Committee had raised $208,000, while Nelson's Florida 2000 Committee had raised $804,000.

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