WASHINGTON -- Liberal Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and her conservative GOP Senate challenger, Alan Keyes, finally have something in common. They both collected the majority of their large campaign contributions from outside Maryland.
During the first six months of this year, Ms. Mikulski received 55 percent of her large donations -- those over $200 -- from out of state. The figure for Mr. Keyes was 72 percent, Federal Election Commission records show.
For Ms. Mikulski, that means $109,979 of the $199,626 she received in large contributions between Jan. 1 and June 30 was from outsiders. The Keyes campaign collected $91,757 of its $127,232 in large donations from out of state.
John Steele, the senator's spokesman, said the out-of-state contributions reflect Ms. Mikulski's position as a national leader and the Senate's only Democratic woman, pointing to her prime-time speeches at the Democratic National Convention.
"The bottom line is Senator Mikulski is recognized as a national leader and folks in Maryland are proud of that fact," he said. "She has received support from around the country."
Meanwhile, Sean Paige, spokesman for the Keyes campaign, had a similar explanation.
"As president of Citizens Against Government Waste, he developed a national constituency of taxpayers interested in what he was doing on their behalf," said Mr. Paige, referring to the government spending watchdog group headed by Mr. Keyes until he resigned to run for the Senate.
But congressional reform groups are wary of out-of-state money being used to fuel congressional campaigns.
U.S. Senate candidates generally pick up about 50 percent of their large individual campaign contributions from other states, said Laura Kriv, field organizer for Congress Watch, a non-profit consumer research and lobbying group.
"If candidates raise most of their money out of state, who are they really representing?" asked Ms. Kriv, who said the campaign finance legislation vetoed by President Bush in May failed to address the issue.
But she said any campaign finance reform must make public officials more accountable to voters by requiring that most donations come from within a state rather than from wealthy contributors outside a state.
Overall, Ms. Mikulski, running for a second six-year term, continues to dominate the Maryland Senate race in fund-raising.
Between Jan. 1 and the end of June, the Baltimore Democrat collected $820,061 in campaign contributions from individuals and special interest groups, compared with $657,604 for Mr. Keyes, according to FEC records.
The senator is burying her opponent in donations from those special interest groups, with $254,502 from political action committees. Mr. Keyes picked up just $17,550 in PAC money during the first six months of this year.
Meanwhile, Ms. Mikulski also has dwarfed her opponent in cash reserves, according to the latest FEC report. The senator had $1.3 million on hand at the end of June, compared with $39,680 for Mr. Keyes.