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April 19, 2014

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Heller, Berkley have comparable war chests as season of increased spending dawns

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Sam Morris and Mona Shield Payne/Las Vegas Sun

Left: Dean Heller speaks at the grand opening of the Mandarin Oriental at CityCenter on Dec. 4, 2009. Right: Shelley Berkley laughs with constituents during a “Congress on the Corner” event Jan. 14, 2011, at her Las Vegas office.

Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller continue to keep close numbers — not just on the campaign trail, but also in their bank accounts.

Both candidates for the Senate announced their second-quarter cash collections and war chest totals on Thursday.

Berkley beat out Heller for campaign donations from April through June, bringing in $1.5 million to Heller’s $1.2 million.

It’s a personal best for Berkley, who’s been raking in over a million dollars a quarter since she started seeking this Senate seat. But if she hopes to win in November, Berkley will have to keep outdoing her own benchmarks.

Though she’s brought in more money than Heller, Berkley has been spending faster than her opponent: She currently has slightly more than $4 million cash on hand, according to her campaign, compared with Heller, who has $4.5 million, according to his campaign.

Those are sizeable war chests, but keep in mind that we’re also now entering a season of higher-speed spending as the candidates take over the television airwaves with ads they hope will push them to victory over the next four months. This week, Heller began attacking Berkley for her ethics problem — she became the subject of an official investigation this week for her efforts lobbying Congress and the federal government to better support kidney care, despite the fact that her husband is a kidney doctor. Berkley, meanwhile, defended her motivations as pure while striking back at Heller in an ad charging that he’s out “to end Medicare as we know it” — a charge Heller and others vehemently dispute.

Those are just the opening salvos in what’s likely to be a costly round of this contest, for both campaigns.

Heller’s campaign declined to comment on their second-quarter fundraising, but Berkley’s campaign manager Jessica Mackler touted the nearly 6,000 new donations they received as an electoral achievement.

“Nevadans have gotten involved in Shelley’s race because they know she’s always fought for middle-class families,” she said. “Nevadans know that Shelley is on their side.”

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