LANSING (AP) – Republican U.S. Senate candidates Pete Hoekstra and Clark Durant finished their first-quarter fundraising with about the same amount of cash on hand, $1.5 million, but are far behind Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow’s $7 million.

Hoekstra reported Tuesday he raised $700,000 and spent $681,000 during January, February and March, leaving him with $1.54 million on hand, including earlier donations.

After turning in 22,232 petition signatures Tuesday to qualify for the Senate race, Hoekstra told reporters he was unable to match the pace of fundraising in October, November and December because he couldn’t ask for donations during the lead-up to Michigan’s Feb. 28 presidential primary.

“We lost three weeks of fundraising here when everyone was focused on the primary,” said Hoekstra, who took in about $285,000 less than the last three months of 2011. “First quarter was bad.”

Democrats said it a Hoekstra misstep caused the drop in donations. The former congressman ran a Super Bowl ad featuring a young Asian-American woman talking in broken English about China taking away American jobs. The ad inferred that the blame fell on Stabenow, whom the woman referred to as “Senator Debbie Spend-It-Now.”

Asian-American and civil rights groups called the ad racially insensitive, and donors poured more than $150,000 into Stabenow’s campaign the week the ad ran.

Stabenow had her best fundraising quarter ever, getting $1.54 million in donations. She spent $420,000 and had nearly $7 million on hand.

Hoekstra wouldn’t address if the ad had affected his donations, instead saying his campaign had “just about outperformed every expectation” in how much he could raise for a Senate run.

Durant, a Detroit charter schools executive opposing Hoekstra in the GOP primary, reported raising $581,000 and spending $257,000, leaving $1.51 million on hand – nearly as much as Hoekstra. Republican Randy Hekman reported he raised $142,000, spent $135,000 and had about $7,000 on hand.

Reports for other GOP candidates weren’t available on the Federal Elections Commission’s website.

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