Independent U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Crist spent more than $7 million in August and September, and appears overwhelmingly behind front-runner Marco Rubio in financial firepower.
Crist has already paid for about $2.5 million in TV ads for the final two weeks of the campaign, but rivals fretted he might ramp it up dramatically for a final TV blitz. Newly released campaign finance reports, however, show the governor has much less money available than expected: just $1.39 million as of Oct. 1.
It costs about $1.2 million a week to air TV ads statewide, and Republican Rubio has an overwhelming financial advantage over Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek. Rubio had about $5.5 million on hand as of Oct. 1, while Meek had just $415,000.
"We have millions of dollars of TV air time already purchased and significant resources to communicate to common-sense Floridians that Charlie Crist is the only honest, independent alternative to tea party extremist Marco Rubio,'' Crist campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said.
On top of Rubio's own money and voter mobilization spending by the Republican Party, political action committees affiliated with Republican strategist Karl Rove (American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies) have spent more than $2 million in television and direct mail to help Rubio.
Crist throughout his career has relied on overwhelming financial advantages to flood the TV airwaves, but not this time. His best and last hope could be live televised debates Sunday at 9 a.m. on CNN and Tuesday at 7 p.m. on NBC stations.
The average of recent polls compiled by Pollster.com shows Rubio leading with 44 percent support, followed by Crist with 31 percent and Meek with 21 percent.