Angle burns through much of her staggering $14 million haul

Nevada Republican Sharron Angle announced earlier this week she raised a staggering $14 million between the start of July and the end of September. Observers seized on the impressive total as a sign her challenge to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was gaining momentum.

But what her campaign failed to mention in its announcement was that the bulk of that money has already been spent. In fact, at least a third of it went into fundraising itself.

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Despite the impressive total – which was actually $14.3 million – Angle had only $4 million left in the bank as of Sept. 30.

That means Angle’s effectively tied in the money race with Reid, who also had some $4 million cash on hand at the start of October.

Compared with Angle, Reid’s third-quarter fundraising total was considerably less impressive. His campaign brought in only $2.8 million, with some $800,000 of that coming via a transfer from joint fundraising committees that Reid participated in over the last three months.

But that number is virtually meaningless because the two started the final month of the campaign with the same resources. Reid’s financial advantage may have eroded, but he’s still been able to reserve his TV ad time in advance, which means he’s getting a better rate than Angle, who is buying ad time week to week, according to a source with knowledge of TV ad buys in Nevada. By one estimate, Angle had spent $3.8 million on TV advertising since Oct. 1, which means her campaign isn’t sitting on a pile of cash as its announcement this week first indicated.

Moreover, Angle is burning through money in order to raise money. Her campaign spent $4 million in the third quarter on expenses linked to direct mail; much of that was fundraising related. She also dropped $370,000 on online fundraising.

Of the $12 million her campaign spent in the last three month, Angle used only $4.6 million for TV advertising.

Reid, meanwhile, dropped $5.6 million on TV in the last quarter – the bulk of his campaign expenditures. Reid’s campaign spent a total of $7.7 million over the last three months, according to his report.

Angle's campaign said Friday it has raised more than $3 million in the first two weeks of October and campaign spokesman Jarrod Agen said Angle's debate performance Thursday translated into some $230,000 raised online in less than 24 hours. 

"We have beaten Harry Reid at his own game," Agen said. "We vastly outraised Reid’s special-interest money with our grassroots support and have all the momentum going into the home stretch. As the Majority Leader, Harry Reid should be absolutely embarrassed by his anemic showing this past quarter."

With three weeks to go before Election Day, polls show Reid and Angle are in a dead heat. The candidates met in their first and only debate on Thursday in Las Vegas so the remainder of the campaign is likely to be decided by turnout and the impact of the candidates’ TV ads. That could spell trouble for Angle, who has been outspent on TV and hasn’t had as much time as Reid to develop a campaign infrastructure.

-- Kevin Cullum contributed to this report

-- Updated at 10:05 p.m.