Democrats raise big sums for House, Senate races in Florida

Nelson pulled in just under $2 million and has $7.5 million in the bank, the Florida Democratic Party confirmed. Nelson's approval ratings have been inching upward, but he is still considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators up for reelection in 2012.

All of Nelson's potential Republican opponents have been laboring to push to the front in the primary, but have struggled with low name recognition and a high percentage of GOP voters who haven't made up their minds. The Republican candidates haven't yet released their third quarter numbers.

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In the Democratic race to be the nominee to challenge West in the House, former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel raised more than $415,000, bringing her cash on hand to slightly under $900,000, said campaign manager Lindsay Zoeller.

Meanwhile, fellow Democrat Patrick Murphy brought in $313,000 — less than the $450,000 he raised in the second quarter, when he out-raised Zoeller, but bringing his total for the campaign to $1.1 million.

Both figures signal a heavy Democratic interest. Campaigns get pricey in Florida due to the state's expensive media markets. Democrats are eager to defeat West, a divisive political figure who they argue is too extreme and polarizing for the middle-of-the-road district he represents.

West has not announced his third quarter results yet, but had a war chest of about $1.25 million as of the end of June. It's unclear what effect the ongoing redistricting process in Florida will have on West's district or his reelection chances.

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