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Schwarzenegger leads money chase in California recall

Spending in election exceeds $50 million

From Stan Wilson
CNN Los Angeles Bureau

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican front-runner in the California gubernatorial recall race.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican front-runner in the California gubernatorial recall race.

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California Recall
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Gray Davis
Cruz Bustamante

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- With less than two weeks left before voters go to the polls in California's unprecedented recall election, Republican front-runner Arnold Schwarzenegger leads the pack of candidates in fund raising, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

The actor-turned-politician has pooled almost $5 million more than Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante -- his closest fund-raising competitors, the reports showed.

Campaign spending in the recall election, including money spent on ballot measures, has exceeded $50 million dollars, records show.

Since the announcement of a special election, Davis has raised slightly more than $9 million through his Californians Against The Costly Recall committee, with the vast majority of the money being used to buy television ads. His campaign committee has $1.4 million in cash remaining. Labor unions and developers have been his biggest contributors.

As of the September 25 filing deadline, Schwarzenegger has raised $13.6 million, between his campaign and a separate recall committee.

Schwarzenegger had spent $13.4 million from the committees with $3.4 million remaining, according to records.

Early in the campaign, Schwarzenegger said he would not solicit contributions, but he has since reversed course and has accepted millions in donations. According to campaign finance reports, Schwarzenegger has contributed $5 million of his own money to his campaign and loaned an additional $1.5 million to the effort.

In addition to his campaign committee for governor, Schwarzenegger created a separate Total Recall committee to support the drive to replace Davis.

At least six individuals have donated more than $100,000 to Schwarzenegger's recall committee, which has no limit on the amount it can collect as long as it targets issues, like pro- or anti-recall efforts. The gubernatorial candidate's Total Recall committee has raised $1.3 million to date.

Some of Schwarzenegger's most prominent contributors include former President George H.W. Bush, who gave $1,000, and entertainers Kelsey Grammer and Tom Arnold, each giving $1,000, campaign records show.

Bustamante raised $9.4 million through Friday, but records show he has spent $11.8 million from his campaign and anti-recall.

Indian tribes and labor unions make up the vast majority of his large contributors through various committees, according to campaign finance records.

California Gov. Gray Davis
California Gov. Gray Davis

Entertainer Barbra Streisand and Motion Picture Association of America President Jack Valenti each gave $1,000 to Bustamante.

Independent candidate Arianna Huffington, who denounced special interest money, has raised $728,000 with $62,000 in cash remaining. Many of her contributors include Hollywood Democrats -- Paul Reiser who gave $2,000, Noah Wyle who made a $5,000 contribution and Miramax Chairman Henry Weinstein, who donated the maximum $21,200.

Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock, who has vowed to continue his campaign to replace Davis, has raised $1.6 million with just over $305,000 left in cash.

September 25 was the deadline for candidates and their committees to file their latest expenditures with the California secretary of state's office, which monitors campaign finances.

California law limits the amount individuals or businesses can donate directly to candidates up to $21,200 although Davis is exempt from the limits because he is the subject of the recall.

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