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Who’s biggest campaign spender ever?

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spent more of his own money in pursuit of public office than any other individual in U.S. history, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
NYC Mayoral Debate
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, and his challenger, city comptroller William Thompson, Jr., participate in the first debate for their mayoral campaign in New York on Oct. 13. Bryan Smith / AP
/ Source: news services

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spent more of his own money in pursuit of public office than any other individual in U.S. history, with his latest re-election bid already running at $85 million, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Citing newly released campaign records, the Times said Bloomberg was on pace to spend between $110 million and $140 million before the Nov. 3 mayoral election. That means the self-made billionaire will have spent more than $250 million in his three bids for mayor of America's most fabled city.

In contrast, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, a former chairman of the banking firm Goldman Sachs, spent about $130 million in two races for governor and one for the U.S. Senate, the Times reported.

And publisher Steve Forbes poured $114 million into two bids for president, it said.

Bloomberg's wealth, much of it from the Bloomberg LP media and information empire, is estimated at $16 billion. He has used it to establish what the Times called an "insurmountable financial dominance" in the race.

A finance report filed by his campaign for a Friday deadline covers Bloomberg's expenses since Sept. 29. He spent $20.4 million in that period, helping him break his $85 million record from 2005. He spent $74 million on his first run in 2001.

Opponent calls it 'obscene'
His opponent, William Thompson, a Democrat, has spent just $6 million in the race. A Thompson campaign spokeswoman on Friday told the Times the mayor's spending was "obscene."

But most New Yorkers surveyed in a poll this week said they don’t care about Bloomberg’s spending. Only 20 percent say they are less likely to vote for him, while 72 percent say it doesn’t affect them at all. The rest say it makes them more likely to vote for him.

Bloomberg was 16 points ahead of Thompson in the poll and has been spending at a rate of more than $850,000 a day.

The bulk of Bloomberg's spending has gone into television, radio and Web advertising, the Times said.

But some of the money has trickled down to recession-hit small businesses, including Goodfellas Brick Over Pizza on Staten Island and in the Bronx. The Bloomberg campaign has so far forked over $8,892 for pizza at Goodfellas alone.

Thompson has also sought to portray Bloomberg as opportunistic for political moves he has made, including changing his lifelong party registration from Democrat to Republican to avoid a crowded primary in 2001 and persuading the City Council to extend the term-limits law last year so he could run again.

Bloomberg is no longer a member of any party but is running on the Republican and Independent Party lines.