JEFFERSON CITY — Democrat Robin Carnahan opened 2010 with her strongest fundraising quarter of the U.S. Senate campaign, shaving off some of the financial lead of Republican Roy Blunt.
Carnahan, the secretary of state, reported Thursday that she raised nearly $1.5 million during the first three months of this year. Blunt, a U.S. House member from southwest Missouri, reported raising more than $1.3 million during that same period.
Blunt and Carnahan are their parties' leading contenders to replace retiring Republican Sen. Kit Bond in the November's elections. But they first must face challengers in the Aug. 3 party primaries.
Accounting for previous fundraising and expenses, Blunt reported more than $3.4 million in his campaign account as of the end of March. Carnahan reported more than $2.8 million remaining in her campaign fund.
That gave Blunt a cash advantage of about $582,000, down from a gap of about $836,000 over Carnahan at the start of this year. But both candidates have been raising enough money to mount an aggressive advertising campaign as the election draws nearer.
National Democratic and Republican campaign committees also are expected to pour money into Missouri's Senate race, as are issue-based interest groups that already aired commercials.
Blunt and Carnahan each touted their fundraising totals as evidence of widespread support.
Carnahan said she has received donations from more than 21,000 individuals; Blunt said he has held more than 400 campaign events in nearly 100 Missouri counties.
Among the other candidates in the U.S. Senate race is Republican state Sen. Chuck Purgason, of southern Missouri. His finance report was not immediately available, but Purgason said he raised about $7,500 during the first quarter of 2010. He said conservative principles were more meaningful than money raised in the Senate race.
Missouri's only other statewide race this year is for state auditor.
Republican Tom Schweich, a former State Department official under President George W. Bush, holds a sizable cash advantage over both the incumbent Democratic auditor, Susan Montee, and fellow Republican challenger, state Rep. Allen Icet.
Schweich reported raising $225,401 during the past quarter, with $615,326 remaining in his campaign account. Montee raised $104,438 during the quarter, with $352,107 remaining in her account. Icet raised $50,063 during the quarter, with $157,021 remaining in his account.