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Bracing For Big Bucks in Washington

There's more than a little irony in the fact that Maria Cantwell, who poured $10 million of her dot com fortune into the 2000 Senate race to upset Slade Gorton by roughly 2,000 votes, is now bracing for an infusion of personal cash by her Republican opponent, Mike McGavick. Cantwell's personal wealth has detoriated vastly since the dot com bust - the Seattle Times reports her largest asset is a holding of RealNetworks stock valued between $1-5 million - and this time around she's in no position to compete with McGavick, whose net worth is estimated between $36-$65 million.

Lucky for Cantwell, however, she won't need any personal money now that she can raise cash from the Democratic establishment - something she's done quite well. Cantwell raised more than $2 million just in the last three months and has $6.4 million on hand. (No wonder she can spend a little extra cash to buy off her primary opponents).

McGavick raised an impressive $1.7 million during the same time period, but he's also spent a ton, as challengers with little name recognition are wont to do, and reports having just over $1 million in the bank. Hence the discussion of whether McGavick is going to pony up enough money to trigger the "millionaire amendment" that will allow Cantwell to raise the cap on contributions to her campaign.

A final interesting tidbit: the Washington state Democratic party has filed what appears to be a laughable complaint with the FEC alleging that the $28 million in stock options and bonus pay McGavick received last year as part of his compensation package after leaving SAFECO is an "illegal campaign contribution."