Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), facing a serious challenge from Republican William Russell, received more than $550,000 in campaign donations from fellow Democrats and the anti-war group MoveOn.org in the final weeks leading up to the November elections, according to the latest disclosure report filed with Federal Election Commission.
The big cash infusion helped Murtha fund more than $600,000 in TV ads, the FEC records show. Combined with more than $570,000 in TV ads paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Murtha was able to dramatically outspend Russell, and he eventually broke open a close race and cruised to a comfortable victory. Murtha took 58 percent of the vote on Election Day, against only 42 percent for Russell.
Fellow Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), joined dozens of their colleagues in donating $334,000 to Murtha's re-election campaign in the final 10 days of the election. The money came mainly from the lawmakers' re-election campaigns and leadership PACs, although 11 Democrats, including Reps. Patrick Kennedy (R.I.), Silvestre Reyes (Texas) and Jesse Jackson, Jr., (Ill.), donated $16,800 of their personal funds to Murtha's campaign.
MoveOn.org also funneled nearly $219,000 to Murtha, another huge plus for the veteran Pennsylvania Democrat. Murtha has been a leading advocate for ending the Iraq War.
All of the House Democratic leadership except for Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who Murtha challenged following the 2006 elections, donated to his campaign.
Overall, Murtha took in nearly $1.3 million in the five-week period from Oct. 16 to Nov. 24. Murtha raised $3.4 million for the entire election cycle, so the financial boost he got right before the election helped to shore up support for Murtha. Murtha's anti-war stance and claim that some western Pennsylvanians were "racist," made in defense of now President-elect Barack Obama, had threatened to sink his re-election bid.
Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) joined Reid in giving to Murtha's re-election effort.
Russell has yet to file his post-election report with the FEC, so it is still unclear how much financial backing he received from GOP lawmakers. The National Republican Congressional Committee spent $400,000 on TV ads late in the race in an effort to defeat Murtha.