Campaign cash: Who's spending the most on the midterms

Independent spending in campaign 2010 is slowly heating up. Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce disclosed its biggest reported ad buy of the year, $997,095 to oppose Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes in his bid for the open Senate seat in New Hampshire. The Chamber, the nation's largest business lobby, is a growing force in electioneering with a reported budget of $75 million for the midterms.

The American Action Network, a conservative group co-founded by former Sen. Norm Coleman, also spent $500,000 against Hodes, who will likely face GOP candidate Kelly Ayotte, a former state attorney general, in November. The group also reported spending on the losing side of the Alaska GOP Senate primary last week, where incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski is expected to fall to Joe Miller. The Tea Party Express group has spent $592,000 on Miller's behalf this year.

The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees topped the list of biggest groups again last week with $1.5 million spent in two races, running negative ads against Republican candidates challenging Democratic incumbents Mark Schauer of Michigan and Dina Titus of Nevada. The union has reported the most spending of any group this year, with $5.4 million on behalf of Democrats. The next-highest spender last week was the Chamber, which has reported $2.6 million to the Federal Election Commission this year. -- T.W. Farnam

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