Virginia Republican John W. Warner spent a record $1.2 million, including $471,000 of his own money, in his successful bid for election to the Senate, according to final campaign reports filed yesterday.
Coupled with about $491,000 he spent in a lavish preconvention campaign trying to win his party's nomination earlier this year, Warner has used nearly $1 million of his own money to win his first elective office.
Warner's Democratic opponent, Andrew P. Miller -- who yesterday formally requested a recount in the Nov. 7 Senate election -- filed a report showing total campaign expenditures for the general election of about $808,000.
The election, in which Warner defeated Miller by a scant 4,721 votes out of more than 1.2 million cast, left Miller with a minuscule campaign debt of about $4,000 compared to a $484,014 debt reported by Warner's campaign committee.
In a report filed for the period between Oct. 24 and Nov. 27, the Warner for U.S. Senate, Inc. committee showed the candidate took in contributions totaling about $1,287,446 during the general campaign. This included $610,000 that Warner lent to the committee via an arrangement with the First and Merchants National Bank in Richmond.
About $139,000 of this amount has been repaid by the committee, leaving $471,000 still owed personally to Warner. Some $285,000 of Warner's bank savings were borrowed by the committee in three separate transactions during the period between Oct. 24 and Nov. 29, records show.
Warner, who came in second to Richard Obenshain last June at Virginia's GOP convention and later was selected as the nominee when Obenshain was killed in a plane crash, spent more of his personal funds in the election than any other candidate for public office in the state's history.
Miller complained during the campaign that Warner took unfair advantage of his wealth and made loans to his committee to help finance what the Democratic candidate called a media blitz.
Warner's personal wealth is estimated at more than $7 million, about half of it the result of his former marriage to heiress Catherine Mellon.
Warner had promised during the general campaign that his personal expenditures would not equal the $491,000 spent to win the nomination. His final general election spending was about $20,000 shy of that figure.
As the post-election financial reports were filed with the Federal Election Commission in Washington, lawyers for Miller also filed a petition in state Circuit Court in Richmond for a recount of the Senate vote. Miller said Saturday he would seek a recount because apparent discrepancies in voting machine tabulations in several precints led him to believe his narrow margin of defeat could be reversed.
Miller reported cash contributions from individuals and political action committees of almost $218,000 during the last reporting period, compared to $505,871 for Warner.
Among the list of Warner's most recent contributors were designer Halston Frowick ($1,000) and producer David Merrick ( $500), friends of Warner's wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor. Three partners in the chic New York City discoteque, Studio 54, gave $1,000 each.
Miller is raising money to pay the estimated $120,000 it may cost him for the recount, should he remain the loser, though he expects the actual cost to be much less. A Warner committee has been formed to pay any legal costs he may incur.