A television ad attacking Democratic Rep. Scott Peters paid for by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican-allied super PAC. CLF has invested more than $500,000 in the race.

The past six weeks of campaigning in the white-hot race for the 52nd Congressional District in San Diego County has seen an explosion in negative advertising paid for by outside spending groups not attached to either candidate, according to an inewsource analysis of Federal Election Commission data.

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The spending, directed overwhelmingly toward negative advertising, has dwarfed the candidates’ own expenditures in recent weeks.

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Lorie Hearn is the chief executive officer and editor of inewsource. She is a lifelong news-aholic who started her reporting career writing her Girl Scout newsletter at age 12. High school and college were filled with school newspaper work, and after graduation, she worked as a reporter for newspapers...