Republican Dan Coats' bumpy campaign for his former Senate seat is running in large part on his own money after he loaned it $200,000, even as his staff denies fundraising troubles ahead of the primary.
Coats, who was recruited to seek the seat by national Republicans who envisioned him as a strong fundraiser, made the loan April 22, federal campaign finance records show. That's less than two weeks before Tuesday's primary in which he faces four other candidates for the Republican nomination.
Pete Seat, a Coats spokesman, said Wednesday that the loan was temporary, "to bridge that gap between the pledges and the deposits — with fundraising events that were scheduled and folks who pledged to attend but the money hadn't been deposited yet."
While Coats has outraised his opponents, he hasn't reached the levels many predicted. He also faced criticism for missing an April 4 deadline for a report on his personal finances that he didn't file until Wednesday. The report showed that he earned $821,887 between Jan. 1, 2009, and Wednesday, the bulk of which came from the law firm he worked at in Washington, D.C.
Both Coats' opponents and voters have raised questions about his years away from the state and Washington ties. He worked as a lawyer and lobbyist after leaving the Senate in 1999 following 10 years in office.
Coats had raised $446,000 through April 14, which included a $25,000 contribution he made to the campaign soon after he entered the race in February for the seat Democrat Evan Bayh is giving up.
It is uncommon for a candidate with previous election success such as Coats to put so much of their own money into their campaign, said Dave Levinthal, a spokesman for the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics.
State Sen. Marlin Stutzman, one of Coats' primary opponents, said the loan showed that Coats was concerned about winning the primary.
"He's loaning himself some money and running to Washington to raise money from his old buddies out there," said Stutzman, who gave $31,000 to his campaign.
The Republican nominee will likely face Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth in November.
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