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Walker's super PAC rivals Cruz's, as total funds raised approaches $400M

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Mike Burley/Telegraph Herald via AP

(Read caption) Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker addresses a crowd at Giese Manufacturing, Sunday, in Dubuque, Iowa. His super PAC reported $20 million in funds raised for the candidate.

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Candidates on both sides of the 2016 presidential election have raised a total of almost $400 million so far this year, USA Today reported.

The super PACs backing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) have amassed the most money so far in the race, but Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker soared up to third place just over a week after entering the race. The sheer volume of money being funneled into these super PACs, experts say, hints at the expanded role mega-donors will play in the upcoming election.

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Mr. Bush’s super PAC called Right to Rise brought in $103 million during the first half of the year, nearly a quarter of the total funds across all candidates, USA Today reported. Senator Cruz’s Keep the Promise union of four super PACS has logged just under a third as much, at $38 million, according to CNN.  Governor Walker is hot on Cruz’s heels: his Unintimidated PAC reported in a statement Tuesday it had raised $20 million from nearly 300 donors in its first quarter, before Walker announced his candidacy.

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Though Walker lacks the name recognition of some of his opponents, he has a favorable reputation among conservatives informed by his slashes to collective bargaining rights for public workers’ unions during his first term as governor.

Reuters polling has Walker winning 7.1 percent of the Republican voters’ support, making him half as popular as Bush and a third as popular as Donald Trump. But a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Monday places Scott inches ahead of Bush with 13 percent and 12 percent support respectively, and second only to Trump who got double the support, about a quarter of the overall.

"Governor Walker's record of fighting for and winning conservative reforms is translating into tremendous grassroots and financial support from across the country," Unintimidated PAC director Keith Gilkes, said in a statement.

As The Christian Science Monitor’s Mark Trumbull previously reported,

"In many ways, this growing reliance on super PACs is the logical outcome of the current legal climate for campaigns. The fact that outside money faces no caps gives candidates, donors, and political activists an incentive to emphasize that kind of fundraising and spending.”

Mr. Trumbull wrote in another story that the rise of super PACs not only changed the price of the race, but the nature of the game as well, indicating “an increasingly direct role taken by mega-donors in the American political process. They aren’t just cutting big checks. Some of them want to take an active role in how their millions are spent.”

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This report contains material from Reuters.