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Blumenthal ups Connecticut Senate race spending as Levy preps for Trump fundraiser

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal takes questions from reporters at the Connecticut State Capitol Monday, May 9, ahead of a U.S. Senate vote expected later this week on a bill to preserve abortion right nationwide. In speaking about his co-sponsorship of a similar bill in 2013, Blumenthal said, “The possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade seem(ed) like some very distant nightmare. Now, the nightmare is real. Now, the storm has hit us.”
File: Mark Mirko
Connecticut Public
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Republican opponent Leora Levy raised similar amounts of money for their campaigns over the past three months, but the Democratic senator significantly ramped up his spending and still holds a huge cash advantage in the final weeks of the race.

Over the past fundraising quarter, which covers July through the end of September, Levy raised slightly more than Blumenthal in contributions from individual donors, but he still pulled in more overall when factoring in money transferred from committees and outside groups.

Blumenthal raised more than $772,000 over the past three months, while Levy brought in around $665,000 during that same period.

Since he did not face a primary opponent, Blumenthal is significantly stepping up his spending in the home stretch. He spent more than $4.5 million in the most recent fundraising quarter, which is the largest amount to date since he started his campaign for a third term.

Blumenthal headed into the final weeks of the race with $4.5 million still in the bank. He maintained his huge cash advantage over Levy, who has about $316,000 left.

Levy’s fundraising over the past three months was split into two reports since she was required to file an extra one prior to the GOP’s August primary. Levy spent over $985,000 during that period, but at least one third of that money was focused on the Republican primary.

With the help of former President Donald Trump, Levy prevailed in a competitive three-way primary that included a former state GOP leader who was endorsed at the state Republican convention. Levy is a Republican National Committee member and GOP fundraiser, but this is her first time seeking elected office.

Throughout the campaign, Levy has relied on self-funding, though that pace has slowed in the final months of the race. She loaned her campaign another $25,000 in addition to a candidate contribution worth about $28,000. To date, Levy has loaned herself almost $1.1 million.

Given Blumenthal’s significant money lead, Levy will get some help from Trump, who has continued to be a fundraising machine despite not being a declared candidate for office. This is the former president’s first foray into Connecticut’s Senate race since his 11th-hour endorsement of Levy in the primary.

Trump will hold a fundraiser for Levy from Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday, though he so far does not have any scheduled appearances in Connecticut. Levy has downplayed her connection to Trump, arguing that he is “not on the ballot” and that she instead sees the election as a referendum on President Joe Biden’s agenda.

The race is an uphill fight for Republicans, since the party has not won a Senate race in Connecticut since 1982. In 2020, Biden won the state by 20 percentage points over Trump. Blumenthal, who has served in elected office since 1984, easily won his past two Senate races.

But Levy’s campaign argues it is seeing the race shift a bit more in its direction. Most public polling has shown Blumenthal leading by double digits, but a new poll over the weekend that was conducted by a firm with GOP and corporate clients shows the senator leading by only 5 points. And while most election forecasting sites still predict Blumenthal will easily win reelection, RealClearPolitics moved the race to “leans Dem.”

“Dick Blumenthal is the face of Joe Biden in Connecticut, and voters are ready for change. I will be a voice for Connecticut families and taxpayers in the Senate, and voters know I will fight to make life affordable again, stop the invasion at our border, stand with law enforcement, and be an unwavering backstop against Joe Biden’s disastrous partisan agenda,” Levy said in a statement.

Outside of her campaign, Levy is still getting some help from a super PAC supporting her candidacy that was heavily involved in the Republican primary.

Connecticut Patriots PAC raised more than $2 million in the past fundraising quarter. While it has not spent much recently, the group filed another report showing it placed a TV ad buy for more than $400,000. The group released an ad last week attacking Blumenthal over his position on immigration.

The biggest contributor to the super PAC last fundraising quarter was Timothy Mellon, a Wyoming-based businessman who is the grandson of banker Andrew Mellon and the chairman of Pan Am Systems. Mellon has been a prolific Republican donor this election cycle and attracted attention last year when he contributed millions of dollars to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s border wall fund.

Mellon gave $2 million to Levy’s super PAC — an amount that accounted for almost all of the group’s most recent fundraising haul.

Linda McMahon, Trump’s former head of the Small Business Administration and former CEO of WWE, also gave $27,500 to the outside group. McMahon unsuccessfully ran against Blumenthal in his first run for Senate in 2010 as well as against Sen. Chris Murphy in 2012. Between those two runs, she spent about $100 million of her own money.

Lisa Hagen is CT Public and CT Mirror’s shared Federal Policy Reporter. Based in Washington, D.C., she focuses on the impact of federal policy in Connecticut and covers the state’s congressional delegation. Lisa previously covered national politics and campaigns for U.S. News & World Report, The Hill and National Journal’s Hotline.

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