Costs mount in expensive Democratic primary race

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HARRISBURG –The race for the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is shaping up as one of the state’s most costly primary campaigns as TV advertising takes its toll on the candidates’ budgets.


The four would-be challengers to Corbett have collectively raised $35.5 million and spent $31.1 million through Monday, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday, with 11 days left in the campaign.


In the run-up to the May 20 primary election, the candidates are sure to speed past the total spent in the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary campaign, one of the state’s most expensive on record. In that race, Ed Rendell and Bob Casey together spent $31.5 million.


Corbett has lined his war chest without the pressure of a primary opponent. He has raised $14.6 million, including $3.5 million left over from 2012, and had $6.3 million on hand even after airing $2 million worth of recent TV spots, his report said.


Democratic front-runner Tom Wolf, who contributed $10 million to his campaign, spent an average of $1 million a week on television advertising during the five weeks covered by the latest reports. His use of TV early in the campaign is credited with giving him a leg up.


Wolf, a businessman and first-time candidate for elected office, has spent nearly $13 million of the $14.5 million that he has raised. Nearly half of that spending, about $6 million, occurred during the five-week period and $5.3 million of that went toward TV, his report shows.


State Treasurer Rob McCord reported spending all but about $668,000 of the $8.5 million he has raised in his campaign. He also is carrying $2.65 million in unpaid debts.


McCord and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz each spent nearly $4 million on TV ads during the most recent reporting cycle, according to their reports.


Schwartz reported spending about $7.5 million of the $8.8 million she has raised.


Katie McGinty, a former state environmental protection secretary, spent nearly a half-million dollars on television ads and spent another $300,000 to repay some of the personal loans she made to the campaign, her report says.


Corbett is widely regarded as vulnerable in his re-election bid, although the Republican Governors Association had enough confidence to give him $1.6 million in the latest reporting period. And the Pennsylvania Future Fund, a political committee headed by GOP national committeeman Robert Asher, gave him $100,000, according to Corbett’s report.


The governor also received $100,000 from Joseph Neubauer, chairman and CEO of Aramark, while Albert Boscov, of Boscov’s Department Store, gave him $50,000.


Wolf reported a pair of $50,000 contributions from New Jersey-based Inteplast Group LTD and the Radnor law firm of Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP.


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