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1.5 million reasons GOPers wanted Allen West for U.S. Senate

Broward Republican/tea party sensation Allen West just blew away the fundraising totals in Florida of every major candidate, reporting he raised $1.5 million last quarter. Just how much is for the general and how much for the primary (if he has a challenger) is unclear.

What is certain: The freshman Republican Rep. outraised the four statewide candidates for U.S. Senate: George Lemieux ($950k), Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos ($900k), Adam Hasner ($560k) and Mike McCallister (paging Buzz, paging Buzz......).

Early on, Republican operatives were pushing for West to run for Senate for a few reasons: He's exciting, he can fundraise, he's a vet, and he's African American.

"It's not my time," the colonel would say. The other Republicans are saying thanks right about now.

Two potential unexpected twists:

1) Republican-turned-Democrat Patrick Murphy had raised a whopping $450k last quarter, partly based on the fundraising pitch that he's facing West. It doesn't seem so whopping now.

2) Even with all this money, it might be tougher for West to win re-election to Congress than to a new seat in the U.S. Senate. After all, he lives in liberal South Florida. And thanks to newly passed Amendment 5, legislators can't draw a seat that favors or disfavors a political party or an incumbent. Sure, they'll probably try. But there's only so far legislators can stretch the lines, and more Democrats and liberal-leaning voters are expected at the polls in 2012 compared to 2010. Had West run for Senate, there's a good chance he could have harnessed Republican energy, picked up some swing voters and (in a general election) taken a few extra African American votes that otherwise would more likely go to Democrat Bill Nelson.

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