Outside groups spent more than $6.3 million last week alone to support Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio‘s re-election campaign, while other groups spent $2.3 million last week trying to help Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy defeat him.

Much of that spending is leading to advertising that will run through the weekend and into early next week’s eve of Tuesday’s election.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a political committee run by Republican senators, led the way, spending $3.2 million last week mostly to buy TV commercials supporting Rubio or attacking Murphy. The Florida First Project, a super PAC specifically created to support Rubio, tossed in $1.4 million last week to buy attack ads against Murphy.

That’s according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission by the independent expenditure groups since Oct. 26, and analyzed by FloridaPolitics.com.

Other big spenders on Rubio’s side included the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action ($319,000 spent last week), the American Future Fund ($212,000), the Women Speak Out PAC ($122,000), and the Club For Growth’s PAC ($110,000).

Murphy lost a big outside supporter last month when the Senate Majority PAC — the Democrats’ answer to the Senate Leadership Fund — pulled out of Florida. The Democrats’ PAC hadn’t been helping Murphy much anyway, compared with the kind of money the Republicans’ PAC was spending to help Rubio.

So Murphy’s big supporter in the past week was the Floridians for a Strong Middle Class, which spent $1.1 million to buy advertising attacking Rubio; and the For Our Future PAC, which spent $500,000 last week to support Murphy. Murphy also received backing in the past week from the Center Forward PAC ($210,000), and the Immigrant Voters Win PAC ($169,000).

Americans For Prosperity, the Koch brothers-created group that had vowed in September to make Rubio’s race a top priority this fall, spent little last week.  AFP had spent big earlier this year to support Rubio, but not much for the last few days.

Overall this year, the Senate Leadership Fund has spent more than $13 million in Florida. Among other Rubio supporters, the National Republican Senatorial Campaign — the official political committee of Senate Republican leadership — has spent $5 million this year in Florida. Americans For Prosperity has spent $4.3 million in Florida; the NRA’s PAC and the American Future Fund, $2.8 million each; the LIBRE Initiative, also associated with the Kochs, $1.7 million; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, $1.5 million.

On Murphy’s side, the Florida First Project’s total for the year is about $4.1 million; the Senate Majority PAC spent $3.4 million; Floridians for a Strong Middle Class, $1.7 million; the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees political committee $1.4 million; and the Immigrant Voters Win PAC, $1 million.

All totaled, outside groups have spent $48.3 million in Florida trying to influence the U.S. Senate election, while the official campaigns of Rubio and Murphy have combined to spend just $30 million, according to a report released Friday by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan Washington group that keeps close tabs on campaign finance.

Overwhelmingly, that spending has been to support Rubio or oppose Murphy. According to the Sunlight Foundation’s report, outside groups have spent $36.9 million in Florida for the Republican side in the U.S. Senate race, and $11.4 million for the Democratic side.

Rubio also is outspending Murphy through official campaigns, according to the Sunlight Foundation. It reported Rubio’s campaign spending at $16.2 million, and Murphy’s at $13.6 million.

Yet outside spending in Florida is small compared to what’s happening in some other states, particularly Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Independent expenditures in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race has topped $115 million, and in New Hampshire and Nevada has topped $85 million, according to the Sunlight Foundation’s report, “The final stretch: Spending in key Senate races tops $800 million.”

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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