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The Associated Press April 1, 2010, 8:22AM ET

Halter raises more than $2M for Ark. Senate bid

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter has raised more than $2 million in the first month of his bid to unseat Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the May 18 Democratic primary, his campaign said Wednesday.

Halter campaign manager Carol Butler did not have a final figure on how much cash the campaign has on hand because it was still collecting contributions before the midnight deadline for the first quarter report. Butler said the campaign's fundraising had exceed expectations.

"It's phenomenal to have $2 million in 31 days," Butler said Wednesday night.

Halter announced March 1 that he would challenge Lincoln, who is seeking a third term. Halter has served as Arkansas' lieutenant governor since 2007.

Lincoln's last campaign finance report said she had more than $5 million in the bank for her re-election bid. A spokeswoman for Lincoln did not immediately return a call Wednesday night.

Eight Republicans are seeking the GOP nomination for Lincoln's seat, but they have lagged far behind Lincoln -- and now Halter's. None of the eight have released any preliminary fundraising number for the first three months of the year.

Butler said the average contribution to Halter's campaign was $30.

Halter's challenge to Lincoln was embraced by labor unions and groups on the left such as, which have criticized Lincoln for her stances on issues such as health care and air pollution regulations. Labor unions have promised to spend more than $3 million in Arkansas to help Halter's challenge to Lincoln.

It wasn't clear Wednesday night how much of the $2 million raised has already been spent. Halter and Lincoln have been in an intense ad war in Arkansas, airing television and radio spots around the state.

Butler said Halter had loaned the Senate campaign $60,000 of his own money. A spokesman for Halter said in March that his 2006 campaign for lieutenant governor still owed him about $420,000 that he had loaned that bid.

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