Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's campaign ended 2009 with less money in the bank than it had in September after financing an advertising blitz intended to buff his bruised image in his home state of Nevada, records released Friday showed.
After spending an average of $22,000 a day from October through December, Reid still holds a commanding fundraising edge over any of his potential Republican opponents in November.
The Democratic leader collected nearly $2 million in donations in the final three months of the year – his weakest fundraising quarter of 2009 by a narrow margin. That's about the same amount of money his campaign burned through in the three-month period on ads and other expenditures.
Reid's campaign ended the year with $8.69 million in his campaign account, down slightly from $8.73 million at the end of September.
The Senate leader, considered among the most vulnerable incumbents in the nation, has said he will raise $25 million for his campaign to win a fifth term in the Senate. He's raised $15 million so far and will need to raise nearly $1 million a month to hit that target.
In a statement, his campaign said the fundraising tally "is a clear indication that the campaign will have the resources to win in November."
Reid's wide money margin could be misleading. National Republicans, eager to defeat the Senate's most powerful Democrat, are expected to flood the state with money once a GOP nominee is selected in the June primary.
Reid's image in politically moderate Nevada has suffered with his high-profile role pushing President Barack Obama's agenda through Congress. Republican Scott Brown's upset Senate win in the Democratic stronghold of Massachusetts last week highlighted Reid's troubles in his home state, where about a dozen Republicans have lined up to challenge him.
A poll last month commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal suggested that Reid's advertising wasn't helping his standing with voters. Even after Reid had run six weeks of ads, the survey found a lackluster 38 percent of voters had a favorable opinion of the senator. A poll conducted in October had the same result.
Republicans seeking the party's nomination include Sue Lowden, a former state senator, and Danny Tarkanian, a lawyer and son of former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian. Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki is considering entering the race.
Lowden's campaign Friday said she raised about $800,000 toward the race in the last quarter of the year. She plans to dip into her personal fortune to match donations she receives in the first three months of 2010; Lowden earlier disclosed in government records that she and her husband have stock holdings valued at more than $50 million.
Tarkanian's campaign raised about $650,000 last year, including $377,000 in the final quarter.