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Led by W.Va. gov, US Senate primary race attracts $2M

Aug. 27, 2010 @ 02:46 PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Heading into Saturday's special primary, Gov. Joe Manchin has attracted most of the nearly $2 million amassed by the 14 candidates seeking the late Robert C. Byrd's U.S. Senate seat.

Manchin raised nearly $1.2 million in the month since entering the race July 20. The energy sector, particularly coal and coal-burning utilities, provided close to 30 percent of those funds.

Other Manchin contributors providing 5 percent or more were health professionals and the political action committees of Senate Democrats, or hailed from corporate law firms, the construction industry, financial services companies and pharmaceutical interests.

The five other candidates with available Federal Election Commission reports have largely self-financed their campaigns. The field features 10 Republicans, two other Democrats besides Manchin and a Mountain Party candidate.

The GOP's John Raese had the next-largest amount overall. The wealthy business owner had given his campaign $520,000 as of Wednesday. Individuals provided another $190,000. About a fourth of that came from Raese employees: his holdings range from steel and limestone companies to a newspaper and radio network. Construction interests provided another 14 percent.

Democrat Ken Hechler reported $5,434 during the July 20-Aug. 8 pre-primary filing period, and another $12,747 since. The 95-year-old former congressman and secretary of state provided all but $285 of that.

Republican Scott Williams self-funded all but $550 of the $12,588 he's reported. Two other candidates, Democrat Sheirl Fletcher and Republican Mac Warner, each had around $7,000.

Running in separate primaries, Manchin and Raese have attracted some of the same donors. They include discount retailer Arthur Gabriel, Fairmont restaurateur Rocco Muriale and Charleston businessman Ronald Potesta.

Companies that saw employees or their households give $20,000 or more to Manchin include utilities American Electric Power and FirstEnergy Corp.; the coal-related Boich Companies and MEPCO LLC; drug maker Mylan Inc.; and the Jackson Kelly and Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins law firms.

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