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Independent spending in the heated rematch between Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Republican Randy Altschuler officially topped $3 million on Sunday -- meaning that the groups, in less than two months, have spent nearly the same amount of money on the race as the two candidates have in two years.
The latest large expenditure came Sunday in the form of about $210,000 in new radio and television ads from Crossroads GPS, the nonprofit political advocacy group co-founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove. With that buy, Crossroads has spent more than $700,000 on advertisements attacking Bishop, the five-term incumbent.
In all, Altschuler, a St. James businessman, has benefited from more than two-thirds of the independent spending. Outside spenders supporting Bishop have only spent about $800,000 to date, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Aside from Crossroads, Altschulers biggest backers have been the new Super PAC, Prosperity First, which itself has poured nearly $800,000 into the race, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has spent about $534,000.
Most of the independent spending, on both sides, has been for negative advertising.
Without the influence from outside groups, Bishop and Altschuler are spending money at a near-identical pace. From the start of 2011 through this September, each has spent $1.7 million, according to their committees quarterly report summaries.
In 2010, when Bishop edged Altschuler by 593 votes, outside spending in the 1st congressional district only reached $1.08 million.
The two candidates will debate again Monday afternoon at News 12 Long Island studios in Woodbury. The debate will be aired later this week.
Rep. Tim Bishop, left, and Randy Altschuler enter the debate hall at St. Joseph's College in Patchogue. (Oct. 12, 2012)