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Outside Money Rules in Colorado Senate Race

Colorado Senate candidates Michael Bennet, left, and Ken Buck, debate on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010. AP Photo/NBC, William B. Plowman

With all the outside campaign money being thrown around, which race has gotten the most? We can tell you: it's the Bennet v. Buck race for Colorado Senate. As of this week, the race has attracted nearly $30 million in "outside" funding.

Money spent by outside groups that is not directly given to the candidate qualifies as outside funding. That means that California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's internal contributions -- she has put more than $140 million of her own money toward her campaign -- doesn't qualify. 

According to "Open Secrets," the biggest outside spenders include the Democrat's and the Republican's Senate Campaign Committees and a non-party group: The DSCC ($6.4 million), the NRSC ($4 million), and American Crossroads ($4.7 million). Republican challenger Ken Buck has gotten exactly twice as much from outside groups ($2.6 million) as has Michael Bennet ($1.3 million). For the record, a local poll says the race is a dead heat: each candidate has 47% support.

Critical Contests: CBS News Election 2010 Race Ratings
Read the Latest on the Colorado Senate Race
In this Feb. 19, 2008, file photo, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, listens to questions from members of the Capitol press corps., following his address of the state legislature, in Juneau, Alaska. Stevens, the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history, died in a small plane crash in Alaska, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010. He was 86. <br><br> <a href="" class="linkIcon read"><b> Spokesman: Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens Dead in Crash</b></a> Chris Miller
Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News Investigative Correspondent based in Washington. You can read more of her posts in Hotsheet here.
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