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Murtha Got $330K-Plus Boost

Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), facing a serious challenge from Republican William Russell, received more than $334,000 in campaign donations from fellow Democrats in the two 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.

Murtha also received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from defense lobbyists, union PACs, and others in the decisive phase of the election battle with Russell.

MoveOn.org funneled nearly $219,000 in total to Murtha throughout the campaign cycle, a 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.

Rep. Paul Kanjorski, another embattled Pennsylvania Democrat who survived a tough re-election challenge, steered $5,000 to Murtha on Nov. 3. The money came from Kanjorski's leadership PAC, Citizens for Action.

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 his support. Murtha's anti-war stance, reputation as an old-school "pork barrel" spender 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.

Murtha still has more than $322,000 in the bank after the election, according to his FEC records.
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