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Virginia's Senate Race Dominated by Outside Spending - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Virginia's Senate Race Dominated by Outside Spending

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Virginia's U.S. Senate race between Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine is one of the most expensive in Virginia history.  That's due largely to major independent spending from interest groups and political action committees, coming from some sources you might not expect.

We're talking about thousands of dollars from places as far away as Texas and California.  Dollars aiming to sway the outcome of Virginia's hotly contested senatorial election.

In the race between Kaine and Allen, one number is sticking out.  That's the amount of money independent bodies are spending - completely separate from each campaign - to smear or support the candidates.

"I'm sure this will be the most expensive Senate race in Virginia history," said Geoff Skelley with the University of Virginia Center for Politics.  

The amount of money flowing in is far higher than it was during the 2006 Senate election - more than $10 million dollars more.  It's also the highest amount of outside spending of any congressional race in the United States. 

You might be surprised as to where some of the money is coming from.  Since July, a Texas real estate magnate has contributed $1 million to a political action committee, a so-called super PAC, aiming to elect Allen.

"As I understand it, he's a gentleman from Texas," Allen said.  "It's an independent committee, and legally that's an independent committee."

Kaine has seen his share of interstate support as well - one outside group received thousands from donors in Florida and California.  Not surprisingly, the candidates disagree on the use of outside money.

"Who's in the majority in the U.S. Senate has a direct effect on people's lives and obviously here in Virginia, but also throughout the country," Allen said. 

Kaine said, "My opponent believes that the current laws are right, I think they need to be changed."

Each campaign has also raised a fair amount of money on its own.  The Allen campaign has raised $8.2 million, and the Kaine campaign has raised $14.8 million.

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