Published: Sep 07, 2010 7:53 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 07, 2010 4:53 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) - While politicians are focused on the gloomy economy, the political game appears to be a recession-proof industry.

This year's volatile election is bursting with money, setting fundraising and spending records in a high-stakes struggle for control of Congress amid looser but still fuzzy campaign finance rules.

Based on the latest financial reports, House and Senate candidates in this election cycle raised nearly $1.2 billion, well ahead of the pace for contests in 2008, 2006 and 2004.

Races for governor in 37 states - more than half of those for open seats - are also setting fundraising records. Billionaire Republican Meg Whitman leads the way, pumping $104 million of her own money into her campaign for California governor.