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By Jennifer Brooks

WASHINGTON -- Democrat Dean Phillips started his congressional bid with a personal fortune behind him -- and added another half-million dollars in donations in the campaign's first weeks.

The deep-pocketed Democrat is running for the Third District seat that Republican Erik Paulsen has held since 2009. Phillips, who made a fortune in liquor and gelato, reports that his campaign raised $527,585 in the space of six weeks and ended the second quarter of 2017 with $433,287 in the bank.

The 2016 battle for that seat was a bruising, costly campaign that the incumbent won handily. Paulsen is a prodigious fundraiser, but Phillips managed to raise half a million dollars in a matter of weeks -- entirely, he said, from individual contributions.

"I am both humbled by and grateful for the outpouring of support I've received since I announced my candidacy in May," Phillips said in a statement this morning. "I am also proud that we accomplished this without raising a single dime from special interest PACs or lobbyists."

The campaign says Phillips contributed $5,400 of his own money -- the maximum individual donation -- to the campaign so far.