Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele heads into the final weeks of the race for U.S. Senate with a half-million-dollar edge over his rival, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, according to information released yesterday by their campaigns.
Steele, a Republican, had $2.1 million in cash on hand, compared with $1.6 million for Cardin, a Democrat, their campaigns said.
Cardin raised nearly $2 million during the third campaign finance quarter of the season, bringing his total to $6.45 million, according to a campaign spokesman. Steele raised $1.9 million in the same period, bringing his total to about $6.47 million, according to Doug Heye, a Steele campaign spokesman. The third finance quarter ran from July 1 to Sept. 30.
They are running to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes. Cardin won a contested primary against Kweisi Mfume while Steele had an easier time winning his party's nod.
The candidates have waged costly television ad campaigns across the state that began before the September primary. They are expected to continue to reach out to voters via the airwaves in the waning days of the campaign.
"The Bush money machine has made good on its promise to make sure Michael Steele has the millions he needs to attack Ben Cardin's character and distort his record," said Cardin spokesman Oren Shur. "Voters from all corners of the state are making small donations to Ben's campaign because they want a senator who will stand up to President Bush and get results."
"Nearly 80 percent of those who donated to the Steele campaign are Marylanders who want to fundamentally change the way Washington works, something Congressman Cardin is incapable of after 40 years of entrenched incumbency," Heye said.