WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- An expert in U.S. presidential elections is predicting this year's contest between John Kerry and George Bush could cost more than $1 billion.
And that amount, says Thomas Mann of Washington's Brookings Institution, would set a record.
The 2000 presidential race cost $305 million, the Financial Times reported Monday.
One of the big unknowns this year will be the role of liberal groups like Americans Coming Together and the Media Fund that Kerry aides say are aiming to raise $90 million and $50 million, respectively.
These pro-Democratic groups are devoted to defeating Bush by mobilizing Democratic voters and running ads attacking the president.
Their fund-raising targets are currently well ahead of the sums they have managed to collect, as their role in the election remains uncertain.
Campaign finance watchdogs have argued the groups, known as 527s, exploit a loophole in campaign finance laws and have asked the Federal Election Commission to apply the soft money ban to their work.