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What's behind the self-funded Congressional candidate phenomenon




Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Linda McMahon thanks supporters in Stamford, Conn., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. McMahon conceded the race to Democratic opponent Chris Murphy for the Senate seat now held by Joe Lieberman, an independent who's retiring.
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Linda McMahon thanks supporters in Stamford, Conn., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. McMahon conceded the race to Democratic opponent Chris Murphy for the Senate seat now held by Joe Lieberman, an independent who's retiring.
Charles Krupa/AP

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In Connecticut, Republican wrestling magnate Linda McMahon lost her second try for the U.S. Senate after spending more than $40 million of her own money. She spent nearly $50 million on another losing Senate run two years ago.

In Pennsylvania, GOP Senate challenger Tom Smith dropped more than $16 million in personal cash, but lost to Bob Casey. In a House race in Colorado, Joe Coors, of the famous beer family, lost after spending $3 million of his own money.

Why do these, and so many other rich folks, pour vast amounts of their fortunes into their own political campaigns? Arizona State University political scientist Jennifer Steen has been studying this phenomenon and details her finding in the book "Self-Financed Candidates in Congressional Elections."