- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Some of the biggest donors to Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial candidates stretched their wallets to help pony up nearly $18 million over the summer, according to campaign finance reports filed Tuesday that show that the race appears likely to set a campaign spending record.

Total campaign spending has surpassed $62 million, including spending by the three unsuccessful candidates in the four-way Democratic Party primary in May. So far, the 2002 gubernatorial election remains the most expensive in state history. It was just shy of $70 million in overall spending, with Democrat Ed Rendell unloading most of that to beat then-Auditor General Bob Casey in the primary and then-Attorney General Mike Fisher in the general election.

The campaigns of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf had more than $10 million in cash to spend heading into the campaign’s final seven weeks. Wolf will head into the home stretch with a $1.7 million cash edge as he tries to break a four-decade tradition of governors winning a second term.

The election is Nov. 4. The deadline for the latest reports was Tuesday.

Corbett’s biggest donor to date, the Republican Governors Association, contributed $4 million more - about half of what Corbett raised during the three months ending Sept. 15 - to bring its total commitment to him to $5.8 million. John Templeton, a conservative activist from the Philadelphia suburbs, pitched in $400,000 more, bringing his total contribution to $820,000.

Wolf received nearly $2.9 million from labor unions - pushing their total contributions to $4.5 million - and $1 million from Thomas Grumbacher, the chairman of the Bon-Ton department store chain who had already given him just over $1.1 million.

For the period, Wolf’s campaign reported raising about $9.6 million and spending more than $6.2 million, leaving it with almost $6.5 million in cash. Corbett’s campaign reported raising and spending just over $8 million, leaving it with almost $4.8 million in cash.

The results of the campaigns’ fundraising and spending mean that Corbett raised less than Wolf but spent more while failing to crack a hefty lead in independent polls that Wolf has held since he won the May primary.

The new figures bring Corbett’s total to nearly $25 million raised and nearly $20 million spent. Wolf has reported raising nearly $28 million, including at least $11 million from himself and his family, and spending just over $21 million.

Most of the money was spent on TV ads that the campaigns began running in July. Two outside groups also aided Wolf with their own TV ads attacking Corbett in July.

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