- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

A new era in fund raising dawned yesterday with stricter contribution limits and political strategists looking for loopholes.
Partisan groups are already popping up to take in the "soft money" that national parties are now barred from raising.
Sen. Russell D. Feingold, a lead sponsor of the law that took effect yesterday, said he still believes it will take much of the big money out of federal elections.
"I think it will succeed in preventing what is the absolute worst offense, which is members of Congress and senators directly asking for these huge checks and having them deposited in political party accounts where they are under the control directly of the same politicians," Mr. Feingold said.
The law prohibits the national parties from raising unlimited contributions from corporations, unions and others, while doubling the amount of "hard money," limited donations from individuals and political action committees, that federal candidates can collect.
The new rules come after a record dash for cash this election year that paid off for most of the highest-spending congressional candidates.
Ninety-five percent of the biggest-spending House candidates won Tuesday, while 25 of the 33 highest spenders in the decided Senate races, or about 75 percent, prevailed, according to an Associated Press analysis of spending figures compiled by the Federal Election Commission. The Louisiana Senate race was headed for a December runoff.
A cash advantage didn't always mean victory. Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan of Missouri lost to Republican Jim Talent after spending roughly $10 million to his $4 million as of mid-October, the most recent figures available.
In what shaped up as the costliest House race this year, West Virginia Democrat Jim Humphreys lost to incumbent Republican Shelley Moore Capito after devoting at least $6 million of his own money to the race. Mr. Capito's campaign spent at least $2 million.
Other losers included two gubernatorial candidates who helped set spending records in their states. Texas Democrat Tony Sanchez and New York Independence Party candidate B. Thomas Golisano each spent $60 million of his own money but lost to lower-spending Republican incumbents.

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