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Oct. 30, 2018, 10:35 a.m. EDT

These are the priciest congressional races of 2018 — in one chart

Florida, Missouri and Texas are home to the most expensive Senate contests

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By Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch

Getty Images
Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican challenger Rick Scott (in cap), Florida’s governor, flank GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.

The race to represent Florida in the U.S. Senate has triggered more spending than any other congressional election this year, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

A total of $159 million has been spent on that race, according to the center’s analysis of Federal Election Commission data. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson’s campaign has paid out $25 million, Republican challenger Rick Scott’s campaign has shelled out $66 million, and outside groups have spent $68 million. Florida’s costly media markets have contributed to making this contest so pricey, a Wall Street Journal story noted.

The RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Nelson with a 2-point lead over Scott, who is Florida’s governor but cannot run for a third term. RealClearPolitics rates this election as a toss-up, meaning it could go either way.

Read more: ‘The 1% never had it so good’ — what key midterm candidates are saying

Also see: How America’s top CEOs are spending their own money on the midterm elections

After the Florida contest, the second most expensive race is for a Missouri Senate seat that pits incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill against GOP challenger Josh Hawley. It has led to $107 million in spending and also is deemed a toss-up , with Hawley leading by 2 points.

Coming in third is the Texas Senate race, which has led to $102 million in outlays and features GOP Sen. Ted Cruz running against challenger Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic House member who has spent $5.4 million on Facebook /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB +0.72% ads alone. It’s rated as “leans GOP,” with Cruz leading by 6.4 points.

The chart below from the Center for Responsive Politics shows the 10 priciest Senate contests:

Among House races, the most expensive is in Washington state between Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Kim Schrier.

It has drawn a total of $26 million in spending and is deemed a toss-up , with Rossi leading by 10 points in an early-October poll, after Schrier held a one-point lead in a September survey. They’re seeking to fill a seat by Rep. Dave Reichert, a Republican who isn’t seeking another term . The second and third priciest House contests are in Pennsylvania and Georgia, as the chart below shows:

Outside of congressional races, the gubernatorial battle in Illinois has been marked by record-setting spending of about $244 million, as a New York Times report noted.

Taking on Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner, a private-equity billionaire, Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker — the billionaire Hyatt Hotels heir — has spent $162 million of his own money and has a sizable polling lead. That’s the highest level of self-funding ever for a governor’s race, when figures aren’t adjusted for inflation. When adjusted for inflation, the Republican candidate for governor of California in 2010, Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay /zigman2/quotes/204653455/composite EBAY -0.38% and Hewlett-Packard /zigman2/quotes/203461582/composite HPQ +0.99% , still holds the record.

This report was first published on Oct. 29, 2018.

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Victor Reklaitis is MarketWatch's Money & Politics reporter and is based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter @VicRek.

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