Updated at: 10/14/2013 12:05 PM
By ROGER ALFORD
(AP) FRANKFORT, Ky. - Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky banked nearly $2.3 million since July, pushing his overall fundraising total to $17.7 million for the election cycle, a top aide said Friday.
Campaign manager Jesse Benton said a fundraising report, which McConnell has to submit to the Federal Election Commission by next week, will reflect his strongest quarter yet, far surpassing Republican primary challenger Matt Bevin, a Louisville businessman.
Bevin released totals Friday showing $222,000 in contributions, plus a $600,000 personal loan to his campaign.
"Sen. McConnell enjoys broad support from Kentuckians and Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life who appreciate his hard work and principled conservative leadership," Benton said.
Bevin said his first fundraising report will be nearly on par with the initial contributions received by tea party Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida who won election in 2010.
"I am extremely encouraged by the support we have received at every turn in the last couple months, and am excited to see our momentum growing," Bevin said in a statement. "I am thankful for those across Kentucky and the country who have decided to `join the fringe’ and have so generously given to our efforts."
Democratic front-runner Alison Lundergan Grimes is expected to release fundraising figures early next week.
Grimes political adviser Jonathan Hurst said in a statement Friday that McConnell’s fundraising report shows he’s more concerned about raising campaign cash than negotiating an agreement to end the government shutdown.
"Unfortunately, his millions will not be enough to distract Kentuckians from his dismal 30-year Washington voting record," Hurst said.
McConnell’s campaign, which still has nearly $10 million cash on hand, reported contributions from about 6,000 people whose median gifts were about $50.
McConnell, already Kentucky’s longest serving U.S. senator, is seeking re-election to a sixth term in next year’s elections.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)