HELENA – U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg fell short of U.S. Sen. Jon Tester in the race to pile up campaign cash, according to reports each filed in the first full quarter since Rehberg announced his challenge earlier this year.
Rehberg’s campaign said Friday that the Republican raised $914,456 over the last three months in his 2012 election challenge of Democratic Sen. Jon Tester — about $300,000 less than Tester reported earlier this week for the quarter that ended June 30.
Rehberg reported spending $341,865 for the period, leaving him with $1.5 million in the bank.
Tester maintained an advantage with more cash on hand as well. He reported $2.3 million in the bank compared to Rehberg’s $1.5 million. Both reported spending about $350,000 during the quarter.
Rehberg is in his sixth term as Montana’s only congressman. He is trying to unseat the freshman Tester in a campaign that has gotten heated early.
The campaigns used the fundraising announcement to hammer each other with familiar hits during the early going.
Rehberg has been taking Tester to task for his effort to stop lower debit card fees. Rehberg’s campaign pointed to Tester’s fundraising from the banking industry in comments Friday as one reason for falling short in the fundraising battle.
“We’ll probably never out-fundraise Wall Street Jon and his big bank money but we don’t need to because Montanans know Denny is right on the issues and always puts Montana first,” said Campaign Manager Erik Iverson.
Tester’s campaign fired back by haranguing Rehberg’s connection to the oil industry, and the help the campaign is getting in third-party attacks on Tester with money from the financial sectors.
“Unfortunately, Congressman Dennis Rehberg is already bringing Washington’s dirty politics to Montana by getting big oil and Wall Street special interests to launch early TV attack ads against Jon,” said Campaign Manager Preston Elliott.
Both Rehberg and Tester expect to receive extensive outside help in the race, which already is shaping up to be one of the 2012 marquis races as both parties vie for control of the U.S. Senate.
Rehberg is the clear leader of the Montana Republican Party and its most recognizable face. Tester is a favorite among Democrats with his populist appeal and farming background.
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