By Bria Brown

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan said Thursday that his campaign raised $7.4 million in the first two weeks of October, about half of what was collected in the previous three months.

The first-term incumbent is locked in an expensive race with Republican challenger John James — the state’s first competitive Senate contest in 20 years. Total spending is expected to top $100 million in the election that will affect which party takes the Senate majority, which is now held by the GOP. Peters has led or been slightly ahead in recent polling.

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Peters’ campaign manager Dan Farough said the fundraising makes “clear that the momentum and grassroots energy” is with the senator. James, a Black business executive and combat veteran, outraised Peters for a year after declaring his candidacy, but Peters slightly edged him last quarter — $14.6 million to $14.4 million — a record haul for a Senate candidate in Michigan.

James’ campaign did not immediately release his latest fundraising total, which was not due until midnight. Peters’ campaign made public its total amount raised but not other specifics like spending and cash on hand that will be in its pre-general report.

“Peters’ proven record of effective leadership and Michigan-focused priorities continues to resonate with voters across the state,” said Farough, who accused James of lobbing ”false attacks” and making “empty promises.”

The James campaign, meanwhile, released a new ad criticizing Peters for accepting donations from drug and insurance companies and “voting to cut $716 billion from Medicare.” It is a reference to Medicare savings tied to the Obama-era health care overhaul that Peters backed when he was in the House. The reductions were not directly aimed at beneficiaries but instead hospitals, insurers and others.

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James has faced criticism for supporting the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.

“Gary Peters is only out for himself,” James spokeswoman Abby Walls said. “John will do everything he can in Washington to provide a strong safety net and always protect our seniors.”

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