In his unsuccessful 2002 race against Elizabeth Dole, Bowles spent about $13 million, including $7 million of his own money. While Democrats have painted Burr as the darling of special interests, the Burr campaign has lashed back against Bowles, criticizing the multimillionaire Democrat for his record of funding his own campaign, including roughly a half-million dollars he has invested so far in this year's race.
Bowles would not answer questions about how much of his own money he plans to spend on his second try at a Senate seat. Despite repeated requests over a six-week period, the candidate refused to be interviewed by the Independent.
The investment banker reports his personal worth somewhere between $22 million and $78 million for 2003, according to financial disclosure forms filed by congressional candidates this month. Because the reports only ask for ranges of income and assets, the amounts are inexact; Bowles' aides declined to provide a more specific number. Burr, by contrast, reported a net worth between $665,000 and $1.6 million.
"Erskine's money is a little different. He sits down with his checkbook and does what you or I or Richard Burr can't afford to do," says Burr spokesman Doug Heye.
In addition to predictable support from party loyalists in North Carolina, records show Bowles has drawn about $350,000 from New York supporters, including lots of Wall Street types and Miramax Films chief Harvey Weinstein. Bowles has also collected checks bearing some famous Hollywood autographs: singer and actress Barbra Streisand, movie moguls Jeffrey Katzenberg and Lawrence Kasdan, director Rob Reiner, and TV producer Norman Lear, to name a few.
Bowles' top industries
(This chart includes donations given by PACs as well as individuals associated with a particular industry or occupation and reflects donations reported through April 26, 2004.)
Source: The Center for Responsive Politics, based on data submitted to the Federal Election Commission
Bowles' top 20 contributors
Source: Center for Responsive Politics, using data from the Federal Election Commission