In a sign of how much financial muscle she’s willing to flex, Republican Carla Sands has put $3 million of her own money into her U.S. Senate campaign, and is spending $1 million on a television ad introducing herself to Pennsylvania voters.
Sands’ investment comes after months of insider intrigue over how much of her substantial personal wealth she was willing to spend in her first campaign for elected office. Sands is a former Trump administration economic adviser and ambassador to Denmark.
While lending the money to her campaign doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll spend it, Sands’ team says the personal contribution and ad buy — seven months before the primary — signal her intention to vault herself into the top tier of the GOP primary.
Her campaign fund is now likely to be among the largest in the Republican field. But her own money will account for the vast majority of the $3.5 million she has raised since July, prompting questions about her ability to persuade donors to lend their support. Recent races suggest winning a Senate seat could cost tens of millions of dollars. Sands had $3 million in her campaign fund as of Sept. 30, the most recent reporting cut off, according to her campaign.
All the candidates must file campaign finance reports next week.
In a statement, she said she was running “to stop the Biden Administration’s socialist agenda and to put America and Pennsylvania First.”
The race, one of a handful nationwide that could decide control of the Senate, so far has been driven mostly by Sean Parnell, a former Army Ranger who has secured an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, and Jeff Bartos, a Montgomery County real estate developer.
Sands has work to do to introduce herself to voters. Although she grew up outside Harrisburg, she lived most of her adult life out of the state until moving back to Cumberland County last year.
In 2016, Sands hosted a major fund-raiser for Trump in her Bel-Air, Calif., home and donated $100,000 to his inauguration, before he later named her to his economic advisory council and appointed her ambassador.
She had hoped to leverage those ties in this race, according to GOP insiders who have spoken with her, but the former president’s endorsement of Parnell has complicated that strategy.
Sands’ television ad still opens with a shot of her and Trump together in the Oval Office and immediately mentions her work in his administration. It goes on to criticize President Joe Biden’s “weakness” and promises to fight socialism and secure the U.S. border.
The ad will run on Fox News in the Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Johnstown media markets, according to her campaign.
Sands had a brief acting career and was a chiropractor. She eventually married real estate mogul Fred Sands, becoming CEO of his company, Vantage Capital, after his death in 2015.
Vantage Capital had more than $150 million in assets as of 2019. Sands sold her 14,700-square-foot Bel-Air home for $19.5 million that year, according to the Los Angeles Times, having previously sold a home in Malibu for almost $13.7 million.