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How Controversy-Plagued Candidates Are Winning The Money Race (And Other Fundraising Surprises Of 2010)

First Posted: 07/22/10 11:52 AM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 06:05 PM ET

Candidates like Rand Paul, Mark Kirk, David Vitter are grabbing headlines and raising eyebrows for self-made controversies that have sometimes plagued -- and sometimes boosted -- their candidacies. What else separates the three candidates from the rest of the 2010 pack?

So far, they're all outraising their opponents.

Controversy-plagued U.S. Senate candidates from Nevada to Kentucky are experiencing significant fundraising success, according to campaign finance disclosures for the second quarter of this year.

Just days after claiming victory in Kentucky's GOP primary, Paul found himself under fire for comments he made about the Civil Rights Act. But despite those remarks and subsequent gaffes, the Tea Party-backed candidate managed outraise his Democratic opponent with a $1.1 million haul in the second quarter.

In Illinois, Kirk took in $2.3 million -- more than double the total raised by his Democratic rival Alexi Giannoulias. Kirk enjoyed fundraising success even though he spent the better part of the last few months explaining why he embellished his military service record.

As for Vitter, who is seeking a second term as a U.S. Senator from Louisiana, not even a prostitution scandal and subsequent controversies involving a top aide, could stop him from raising $1 million on top of the hefty sum he already had in the bank. That's more than double what Democratic Senate contender and Louisiana Congressman Charlie Melancon raised.

The fundraising prowess of some of the most controversial candidates on the midterm election circuit is just one of the many surprises the Huffington Post unearthed in the latest campaign finance filings. Here are the top 10 things you may not have guessed about the candidates and their campaign war chests:

Crist Banks On Independent Candidacy
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Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is seeing an upswing in fundraising support for his Senate campaign since dropping out of the state's GOP primary and announcing a decision to make an independent bid.

The AP reports on the significance of Crist's $1.8 million cash haul for the second quarter:

Crist dropped out of the Republican primary in April and decided to run without party backing. He raised $1.1 million during the first three months of the year. His report will show he topped that amount by $700,000 this past quarter.

While Republican candidate Marco Rubio posted a staggering $4.5. million fundraising sum for the same period, the size of Crist's overall war chest still trumps that of his former GOP primary rival. The Florida Governor boasts $8.2 million in the bank, while the former State House Speaker reports $4.4 million on hand.

"That's a nice healthy place to be," Crist said of the discrepancy.

The St. Petersburg Times reports on recent success the Florida Governor has found in reaping cash on the left side of the political spectrum:

By bolting from the Republican Party, Gov. Charlie Crist has one place left to raise big money in his race for the U.S. Senate: Democrats.

A governor who once courted conservatives by calling himself a "Jeb Bush Republican" is getting help from liberal trial lawyers, union activists and even elected Democrats, who are shunning their party's Senate hopefuls, wealthy Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene and U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami.
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Most Surprising Q2 Fundraising Revelations
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