This article originally provided by The Herald-Dispatch

October 27, 2006

Final campaign finance reports show incumbents leading

Associated Press Writer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- The last federal financial reports before Election Day show West Virginia's congressional incumbents with a commanding fundraising lead over their challengers.

As of Oct. 18, the state's three congressional incumbents had raised a total of slightly more than $4 million, and had spent more than $3.6 million of that, according to Federal Election Commission figures. Those numbers dwarf the amounts raised and spent by challengers by almost 4-to-1.

Complete figures for the three challengers weren't available Friday, since the Federal Election Commission did not post the latest report by Democrat Mike Callaghan, who is challenging Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. in the 2nd District.

However, based on Callaghan's most recent report, for the period ending Sept. 30, it's likely that all three challengers raised a combined total of less than $1.5 million. None of the three has topped $1 million.

Campaign finance records are filed on a quarterly basis and, in an election year, a final report is filed for the period from Oct. 1 to Oct. 18.

In that period, out of all candidates, Del. Chris Wakim, R-Ohio raised the most, with $112,817, of which about $75,000 came from a fundraising committee affiliated with the Republican National Committee. Wakim is challenging Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., who raised the second largest amount in the final reporting period, with $83,400.

Although the race between Mollohan and Wakim in the 1st District has received national attention, it isn't the most expensive in the state. Even with incomplete figures for the Callaghan campaign, that distinction goes to the second district.

The candidates there have spent a total of more than $2.3 million, largely because of the more than $2 million spent by the Capito campaign. By contrast, the candidates in the 1st District have spent more than $1.5 million.

Most of the money has paid for television commercials, which have become as Election Day nears.

The most lopsided race, in terms of fundraising and spending, is the 3rd District, where Cabell County Sheriff Kim Wolfe, a Republican, is trying to unseat Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.

Wolfe said he decided early on that he wouldn't focus on raising money from special interest groups, and would devote his campaign efforts to meetings with the voters.

"That way, if he wins, he isn't beholden to anybody," said Deborah Wolfe, the candidate's wife and campaign treasurer.

Federal records show Wolfe has raised $45,946 during the entire campaign. Rahall has raised and spent more than 10 times that figure, taking in more than $497,000 and spending more than $543,000. Since he began raising money before the current election cycle, Rahall is still holding nearly $1.2 million in cash, compared to Wolfe's $12,751.

The money raised by Wolfe is more typically seen in races for the state legislature than in congressional matches, according to Robert Rupp, a political scientist at West Virginia Wesleyan University in Buckhannon.

Although Rupp said Wolfe makes a good candidate - he's won two countywide elections in heavily Democratic Cabell County - that might not be enough to overcome such a significant cash deficit.

"Sadly, the main thing is money," Rupp said. "You have to raise it and you have to spend it."

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