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Monday, May 21, 2012 - 6:00am

Incumbent Lawmakers Hard To Beat

Hundreds of candidates will descend on the state Capitol starting Wednesday to qualify for legislative elections. But those challenging incumbents with deep pockets face long odds.

More than 100 of the state's 236 lawmakers won re-election in 2010 unopposed and only eight lost their seats. Incumbents typically raise more than their opponents.

Still, tea party grassroots activism and newly-drawn district lines could help hopefuls with less money and name recognition.

Senate Rules Chairman Don Balfour has $740,513 in his account, the most of any incumbent. Much of the money top lawmakers raise comes from Capitol lobbyists and the people they represent. The Republican chamber caucuses had about $800,000 by March 31, much of which will be used to help cash-strapped incumbents.