- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - U.S. Sen Mary Landrieu continues to draw in more campaign cash than her GOP competitors, but she’s also spending at a faster clip, erasing the Democratic incumbent’s fundraising advantage.

Landrieu’s chief opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, has more money in the bank as the candidates work out their last-minute campaign pitches and final ground game plans. Early voting in Louisiana begins next week. Election Day is Nov. 4.

The senator’s campaign announced Wednesday that Landrieu raised $2.7 million from July 1 through Sept. 30. Cassidy’s campaign said the congressman raised nearly $2.5 million during the same time.

Landrieu reports ending the period with $3.5 million. Cassidy spent less during the quarter, leaving him with $4.4 million in his campaign account.

Seeking her fourth term, Landrieu is locked in a tight race, targeted by the GOP nationally in its effort to regain control of the Senate. If no one wins support from more than 50 percent of voters, the race will be decided in a Dec. 6 runoff.

Republican retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness, a tea party favorite, reports having a distant $388,000 in his campaign account. Because of his funding limitations, Maness’ campaign largely has been built on public appearances, social media, grassroots outreach and the endorsements from tea party figures such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Maness launched an online contest Wednesday so people could choose one of his three ads to be aired on TV.

Third-party groups have poured millions into advertising, making it the most expensive Senate race ever in Louisiana. More than $19 million has been spent on TV advertising so far by candidates, parties and groups tracked by the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity.

Updated reports listing expenses and collections were due Wednesday to the Federal Election Commission. Landrieu’s campaign described the latest fundraising quarter as the senator’s best of the current election cycle.

“Sen. Landrieu has spent her entire career fighting for the voters of Louisiana, which is why we have seen such a strong coalition of grassroots supporters in this race,” campaign spokesman Fabien Levy said in a statement.

Cassidy’s campaign said the Republican candidate has raised more money than any challenger Landrieu has ever faced.

“As we near Election Day, his message of positive, conservative, common-sense reform is resonating,” campaign spokesman John Cummins said in a statement.

Landrieu’s campaign suggests Cassidy’s fundraising numbers are skewed, because some of his money is only available for use in a December runoff.

“Those funds will be sitting in the bank when Sen. Landrieu wins this election on Nov. 4,” Levy said.

Landrieu has raised $16.2 million for the election cycle, while Cassidy has brought in $10.5 million and donors have given $2.3 million to Maness, according to numbers reported by the campaigns.

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