The U.S. Senate race is set for a wild finish following a flurry of election-related developments Tuesday.
Two new surveys offered conflicting assessments of the race. Democratic challenger Jim Pederson either has closed to within 5 percentage points of Republican incumbent Jon Kyl; or Pederson has fallen 16 percentage points behind Kyl.
Either way, Pederson, a millionaire developer, showed every intent to press Kyl for the final three weeks of the race. Pederson contributed another $700,000 to his campaign, bringing his total contributions to nearly $9 million since the race began. Pederson made the contribution Monday and disclosed the action Tuesday.
Pederson’s latest personal contribution triggered the “Millionaire’s Amendment,” a provision in federal election law that eases the limits that Kyl can collect from individual contributors.
Previously, Kyl was capped at $2,100 from each contributor during the general election campaign. Now, he’ll be permitted to collect as much as $6,300.
The ceiling for Kyl’s individual contributors will rise even further if Pederson continues his open-wallet approach to campaigning, which is a near certainty considering the assault both candidates are making on TV screens across the state.
The race already is Arizona’s most expensive political contest ever.
Pederson had collected $11.4 million, including $9 million of his own money, according to the latest figures available from the Federal Election Commission.
Kyl had collected $12.4 million through Sept. 30, according to the FEC. The two-term senator has yet to contribute any personal funds to the campaign.
Meanwhile, polls by Northern Arizona University and New York-based polling firm SurveyUSA showed wide differences.
NAU had Kyl at 49 percent, Pederson with 33 percent and Libertarian Richard Mack at 2 percent, while 14 percent of those surveyed were undecided.
SurveyUSA had Kyl with 48 percent, Pederson at 43 percent, Mack with 4 percent and undecided at 6 percent.
The NAU survey of 403 likely voters was conducted between Oct. 11 and Monday and has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points, according to the university.
The SurveyUSA poll of 474 likely voters was conducted between Saturday and Monday and has a margin of error of 4.6 percentage points.
Senate debate times
Tucson debate: 7 p.m. today, KAET-TV (Channel 8)
Flagstaff debate: 6 p.m. Friday, KPNX-TV (Channel 12)