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Congressional hopefuls put their fall cash hauls on public display Monday, the filing deadline for third quarter fundraising reports.

But those reports, which covered money raised and spent through Sept. 30, don't show the full picture of spending in many contested races. Much of the big-money action in House races across the country this year is coming from super PACS and political party committees.

That's the case in the 7th Congressional District, where Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera are locked in a tight race.

The contest in the Sacramento County swing seat is one of the country's most closely watched and most costly House races so far. Independent groups have spent more than $6.1 million on TV ads, mail pieces and on-the-ground staff.

The 2010 race between Bera and Lungren also attracted major outside spending -- including an influx of cash from groups backing Lungren and opposing Bera in the final weeks of the race. This year, the bulk of the early spending has been aimed at ousting the incumbent Republican. While the National Republican Congressional Committee is the biggest spender so far, roughly two-thirds of the money dropped in the district has been used to oppose Lungren.

"It's like you're training for a heavyweight fight," Lungren said last week of the independent spending against his campaign. "You know you're going to take the punches in the first two rounds. What you have to do is survive the punches and then you come back and you match them punch for punch and then in the last two rounds, you take over."

This year's race is California's No. 1 target for outside spending to date. The 10th Congressional District battle between Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, and Democrat Jose Hernandez is a close second, with more than $5 million in independent expenditures.

Here is a chart of where the money's going and a breakdown of the biggest spenders for the 7th Congressional District.



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