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US Congress campaign cost expected to set record

Written by: Staff
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WASHINGTON, Oct 24 (Reuters) US candidates and their political allies will spend a record 2.6 billion dollar on campaigns for November elections that will determine control of Congress, a watchdog group said today.

That comes to an average of 59 dollar per vote in Senate races and per vote in the House of Representatives, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics said.

Control of both houses of Congress is on the line in the November 7 election, and a Democratic victory could make life much more difficult for President George W Bush and his fellow Republicans.

With such high stakes, it is unsurprising that candidates and outside groups are expected to raise and spend more money than ever, said Sheila Krumholz, the nonprofit group's acting executive director.

''The money in this campaign has been flowing fast and furiously,'' Krumholz told reporters on a conference call.

Despite a 2002 law that aims to limit the impact of money on the political process, the center found that candidates and outside political groups are raising more money than ever for television ads, travel, voter outreach efforts and other campaign activities.

Democrats have tried to tie Republican candidates to the unpopular policies of President Bush, while Republicans have sought to turn the focus on Democrats. Both strategies involve buying lots of expensive television airtime.

Both sides are also spending lots of money to make sure their most loyal voters turn out.

The 2002 congressional election cost WASHINGTON, Oct 24 (Reuters) US candidates and their political allies will spend a record 2.6 billion dollar on campaigns for November elections that will determine control of Congress, a watchdog group said today.

That comes to an average of 59 dollar per vote in Senate races and $35 per vote in the House of Representatives, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics said.

Control of both houses of Congress is on the line in the November 7 election, and a Democratic victory could make life much more difficult for President George W Bush and his fellow Republicans.

With such high stakes, it is unsurprising that candidates and outside groups are expected to raise and spend more money than ever, said Sheila Krumholz, the nonprofit group's acting executive director.

''The money in this campaign has been flowing fast and furiously,'' Krumholz told reporters on a conference call.

Despite a 2002 law that aims to limit the impact of money on the political process, the center found that candidates and outside political groups are raising more money than ever for television ads, travel, voter outreach efforts and other campaign activities.

Democrats have tried to tie Republican candidates to the unpopular policies of President Bush, while Republicans have sought to turn the focus on Democrats. Both strategies involve buying lots of expensive television airtime.

Both sides are also spending lots of money to make sure their most loyal voters turn out.

The 2002 congressional election cost $2.2 billion, while the 2004 election, which included a presidential contest, cost 4.2 billion dollar, according to the center, which tracks money in politics.

The 2.6 billion dollar estimated cost of this year's campaign represents an 18 percent increase over 2002, outstripping the 13 percent inflation over the same period.

Congressional candidates have raised 1.3 billion dollar so far.

Republican have raised 586 million dollar and Democrats have raised 567 million dollar.

A final burst of fund-raising by candidates, as well as spending by political parties and outside advocacy groups, are is expected to push the total price tag to a record for a nonpresidential election, the center said.

Incumbent lawmakers maintain a tremendous fund-raising advantage over their challengers. Sitting senators enjoyed a 4-to-1 advantage, while members of the House enjoyed a 7-to-2 advantage over those seeking to unseat them, the group said.

That is because the business, labor and ideological interests that account for a large chunk of donations overwhelmingly favor those already in power, Krumholz said.

''They're giving to make sure they have courted a member of Congress to make sure the doors are open and they can pitch their legislative agenda,'' she said.

Reuters PDS VP0023 .2 billion, while the 2004 election, which included a presidential contest, cost 4.2 billion dollar, according to the center, which tracks money in politics.

The 2.6 billion dollar estimated cost of this year's campaign represents an 18 percent increase over 2002, outstripping the 13 percent inflation over the same period.

Congressional candidates have raised 1.3 billion dollar so far.

Republican have raised 586 million dollar and Democrats have raised 567 million dollar.

A final burst of fund-raising by candidates, as well as spending by political parties and outside advocacy groups, are is expected to push the total price tag to a record for a nonpresidential election, the center said.

Incumbent lawmakers maintain a tremendous fund-raising advantage over their challengers. Sitting senators enjoyed a 4-to-1 advantage, while members of the House enjoyed a 7-to-2 advantage over those seeking to unseat them, the group said.

That is because the business, labor and ideological interests that account for a large chunk of donations overwhelmingly favor those already in power, Krumholz said.

''They're giving to make sure they have courted a member of Congress to make sure the doors are open and they can pitch their legislative agenda,'' she said.

Reuters PDS VP0023

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