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Shelley Berkley’s Senate campaign raises almost double Dean Heller’s take for the quarter

Updated Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011 | 4:17 p.m.

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Shelley Berkley

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Dean Heller

Last Friday, Sen. Dean Heller sent out more than one email urging supporters to donate as much as they could to his Senate campaign, before the midnight deadline for the third fundraising quarter.

Now the cause of his sense of urgency is obvious: Heller posted a third quarter fundraising total that is just over half that of his opponent, Rep. Shelley Berkley’s.

Heller, a Republican, raised $675,000, Sun columnist Jon Ralston confirmed Thursday; Berkley, a Democrat, raised $1.2 million.

Berkley outraised Heller in the second quarter too, but by a narrower margin: in the second quarter, which ended on June 30, she raised $1.2 million to Heller’s $1.05 million.

Projections have been circulating that the third quarter would be a less impressive quarter for most candidates: a grueling month of July (remember the debt ceiling process?) and an August dominated by natural disasters made for a less-than-ideal campaigning environment.

It's a record-setting quarter for Berkley even though the average donation was smaller this quarter than last. And that’s important, given that money can be as much of an indicator of support as the ability to campaign for future support.

Her $1.2 million in the second quarter came from 2,903 supporters; her $1.2 million in the third quarter – which the Berkley camp says is actually slightly more than $1.2 million – came from 3,412, her campaign director said.

That’s from a quarter the last month of which was dominated by a flurry of accusations about misuse of her congressional authority, based on a New York Times piece exploring Berkley’s advocacy of kidney care and how her husband, a kidney doctor, may have profited from federal policies she worked for.

The campaigns haven’t yet released the dates of their contributions, but it would seem that the Berkley campaign didn’t suffer too badly from bad press.

But Berkley seems to be burning through her campaign war chest a little faster than Heller is. Berkley’s cash on hand is $3.2 million – only about $400,000 more than Heller’s cash on hand.

There's likely a fairly simple explanation for that though: Berkley’s been more visible on the campaign trail.

A spokesman for the Heller campaign did not immediately return request for comment.

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