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Moran's lead in cash grows in Kansas Senate race

By JOHN MILBURN

Associated Press

TOPEKA -- Rep. Jerry Moran has widened his lead in campaign cash over Rep. Todd Tiahrt in their race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, campaign finance records show.

But Tiahrt's campaign said Thursday he's building a robust, statewide organization.

The two congressmen are seeking the seat held by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican who is running for governor. A third candidate, former Kansas Attorney General Robert Londerholm, is in the GOP race but announced his candidacy only recently.

The only declared Democratic candidate is Charles Schollenberger, a former newspaper reporter and editor from Prairie Village.

Moran's campaign reported raising almost $394,000 in contributions during the last quarter of 2009. Tiahrt's figure was about $190,000.

Moran ended the year with $3.71 million in cash, compared with $1.32 million for Tiahrt. Tiahrt had slightly less cash on hand at the end of the year than on Oct. 31 because he spent more than he collected in contributions during the last quarter.

The cash gap between Moran and Tiahrt was $2.07 million at the end of October; it grew to $2.39 million by the end of the year. But Moran started with a big advantage by having $2.4 million to transfer from his House campaign fund, compared with $1 million for Tiahrt.

Moran spokesman Dan Lara said the fundraising numbers show voters are concerned about Tiahrt.

"Jerry's support across Kansas and in all facets of the campaign is strong and broad," Lara said.

But Tiahrt spokeswoman Michelle Schroeder said he is building a "robust grassroots network and infrastructure throughout the state."

"We are confident it's votes and not money that will win this election in August," she said.

Schollenberger reported raising $5,165 during the last quarter of 2009 -- $3,380 from his own pocket.