Webb, Miller Spar on Spending

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 10, 2006

RICHMOND, June 9 -- James Webb on Friday accused his opponent in Virginia's Democratic Senate primary of trying to buy his way to the party's nomination by contributing nearly $1 million from his personal fortune.

Harris Miller, a former technology lobbyist, donated $250,000 Thursday, bringing his total personal contributions to $975,000. That dwarfs the approximately $500,000 in contributions he has received from supporters for the Tuesday primary.

"He's decided he's going to put in all of his money and buy this election," Webb spokeswoman Kristian Denny-Todd said Friday afternoon. In a statement earlier in the day, she said the personal contributions are an indication that other support is lacking. "This guarantees that if elected in this primary that Harris Miller will lose miserably to George Allen," the Republican incumbent, she said.

Miller spokeswoman Taylor West dismissed Webb's criticism as last-minute gripes from a candidate who is being outspent by more than 2 to 1 in the contest. Webb has reported raising about $575,000.

"I think it's so great that Harris is so dedicated to this race," West said. "He's committed to this race. He's doing what's necessary to win the primary and win in November."

The spat over money came on a day when the two men faced off in the campaign's final debate, an hour-long exchange Friday morning on Washington Post Radio.

During the polite exchange, the two offered their views -- often similar -- on terrorism, the economy and social policy.

Both criticized the Bush administration's handling of the war, urged tougher border security and sanctions on employers and said they oppose the proposed state constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage.

Both said they would have voted against the federal marriage amendment, which failed in the Senate this week.

"I was appalled it was even brought up," Miller said. "Instead of the Senate spending time on the issues that the people of Virginia really care about, they are spending it on issues which divide people."

Webb agreed.

"I think this is just another product of what's come to be called the Karl Rove era, where whenever the administration gets in trouble, they pull out another one of these emotional issues that manipulates people, scares them," he said.

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