It's that magical time of year, when politicians send more emails asking for money than a fake Nigerian prince.
In Kentucky's U.S. Senate race, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell spent much of September burning up the fundraising circuit ahead of the last quarterly deadline of the campaign to report donations.
In the 72 hours prior to the midnight Tuesday deadline, Grimes sent at least 10 fundraising emails, some arriving in inboxes less than two hours apart.
Gov. Steve Beshear, Democratic strategist James Carville and Grimes' grandmother, Elsie Case, are among those who signed the emails, which warn of McConnell's fundraising advantage.
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"He's in full flamethrower mode, using his dark money groups and billionaire connections to torch Kentucky's airwaves with attack ads that distort the truth about who Alison is and what she stands for," Carville wrote. "It's desperate, it's cynical, and it's got to be stopped."
The Grimes campaign repeatedly invoked an Associated Press story from Monday that spelled out how two groups aligned with McConnell plan to spend nearly $20 million in the race.
On Tuesday afternoon, Grimes emailed her donors again, warning that with just 10 hours to go until the deadline, the campaign was $78,919 short of its goal.
Grimes had raised a total of about $11 million at the end of the last fundraising quarter, with just more than $6 million in cash on hand, and she is widely expected to post a monster number when her campaign reports its third-quarter haul.
McConnell's team has used email solicitations more sparingly in the closing days, but in one, the campaign warned that "we risk being out-raised by Alison Grimes' anti-coal millionaire friends in Hollywood."
"Mitch is their number one target because he is Barack Obama's number one obstacle," the email read.
McConnell, who has relied more heavily on support from political action committees and large donors, had about $11 million in cash at the end of the second quarter after raising more than $25 million since he began his re-election effort.
Both candidates have traveled a great deal in the last month to raise money, providing campaign fodder for each other.
Grimes blasted McConnell for raising money with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who the Democrats' campaign said is anti-coal, and meeting with Donald Trump in New York City. (McConnell also has a fundraiser scheduled with 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney later this week, but after the quarterly deadline.)
Grimes also was in New York City last week, even after her name was removed from an invitation to a fundraiser there hosted by EMILY's List, which works to elect pro-choice Democrats.
While her campaign has refused to say whether Grimes attended the event, the candidate was spotted on the Avenue of the Americas in midtown Manhattan by Lexington entrepreneur and Republican fundraiser Nate Morris on the same day as the fundraiser.
Morris said he was surprised to run into Grimes and her father, Jerry Lundergan, telling the Herald-Leader "I thought she would be home in Kentucky campaigning rather than hitting the pavement in midtown."
The race for cash might seem like a waste of time, given that there are only five weeks remaining in the race, but as the Grimes campaign said in one of its emails: "This deadline matters."
"After today, we'll make our final decisions about how to invest our resources and put ourselves in the best position to win on November 4th," the email said. "From getting one more clipboard for an organizer out in the field to airing another ad that helps set the record straight, at midnight, everything's on the line."
Stephen Voss, a professor of political science at the University of Kentucky, said that "excitement reaches its peak when a contest is still close going down to the wire, so donors are especially willing to cough up money."
"Campaigns often build the expectation of late cash into their plans, hoping to fund an aggressive ground game that pulls known supporters to the polls," Voss said. "Unlike blanketing people with advertisements in a wholesale fashion, mobilizing voters is costly and time consuming, because people respond best when they're contacted directly by the campaign in the days or hours before the polls close."
On the other hand, Voss said, "when you're spending so much money in one race, the funds start bringing diminishing returns."
"Often TV advertising slots have already been bought up," he said. "Voters reach a saturation point at which they get fatigued by political ads and start tuning out. The later money comes in, the less value it's generally going to have."