The closely watched race for Hawaii’s open U.S. Senate seat is taking financial shape as the frontrunners plump up their campaign treasuries in anticipation of what promises to be a hard-fought general election.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat, took in just over $1 million in the three-month reporting period that ended March 31. She has about $1.6 million in the bank, according to a Federal Election Commission report posted online Sunday.

Still, her Republican rival, former Gov. Linda Lingle, collected more than $1.3 million in the same period and ended the quarter with about $2.2 million in the bank, at least for now a sizable cash advantage over Hirono.

Lingle received more than $1.1 million in individual contributions and $189,000 from political action committees.

Hirono collected about $751,000 from individuals, $139,000 from PACs and $23,000 from Democratic party committees.

Lingle has no serious opponent going into the Aug. 11 primary, so she’s not being forced to spend heavily to fend off an early challenge. John Carroll, a Republican who has filed for the seat, turned in a 14-page handrwitten report to the FEC for this quarter, showing he raised about $2,700 but has a campaign debt of more than $21,000. Lingle’s report ran 485 pages.

Hirono does face a serious primary challenge from former Congressman Ed Case. But he has fallen behind in his ability to raise significant campaign funds, collecting about $138,000 this last quarter. He reported about $211,000 cash on hand as of March 31.

While Case has spent much of his political wad on TV and other advertising — nearly $150,000 this last quarter alone, the report shows — Hirono and Lingle have been spending money mainly on raising money, paying out tens of thousands of dollars to fundraising consultants and for fundraising solicitations and events.

Hirono paid Media Strategies and Research of Denver just over $100,000 for “media buys” and Lingle spent about $26,000 on online ads. She benefitted from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s independent campaign supporting her, a series of dozens of TV spots in February that cost the chamber nearly $250,000.

Case, who’s raised more than $600,000 since the beginning of the campaign, has been continuing his visits to neighbor islands and community groups in an effort to win supporters. His report reflects numerous small expenditures at places like Office Max and Office Deport, Sam’s Club and a self-storage place. He paid BannersOnTheCheap.com $4,880.

Lingle, who has raised more than $3.1 million since she began campaigning last year, reported spending about $487,000 in this last period. More than $40,000 went for fundraising letters and direct mail. She paid Virginia-based fundraising consultants more than $75,000 for their services.

More than $30,000 went to fundraisers around the country. The report lists catering and room rentals in Honolulu, Chicago, Oklahoma, Texas, Denver, Pennsylvania, Missouri and California.

She paid $418 for lapel pins, $1,714 for polo shirts and $5,564 for campaign t-shirts.

Lingle also is supporting a large campaign staff — more than a dozen people. All together they were paid more than $70,000 for the last three months’ work.

Hirono has raised about $2.2 million since the election cycle began in January 2010. This last quarter she spent about $376,000 and also reported another $237,000 in debt. Some of that debt is for campaign services like consultants and fundraising but about $125,00 is a loan she made to the campaign.

Between money paid out by the campaign and money for services she still owes to various vendors, Hirono spent more than $130,000 on fundraising consultants, mailers and other services.

Hirono also has a hefty payroll, though not as large as Lingle’s. She has five paid staffers, according to the report, and paid them about $54,000 for the three-month period.

Case has no paid staff, according to his report.

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