December 16th, 2011

Good government groups have warned about the increasing influence of money in state House and Senate campaigns  — at one point referring to the potential for a “tsunami” of campaign contributions — but state campaign-finance statistics continue to tell a more stable story.

State Senate candidates raised $1.7 million and spent $1.5 million during the 2010 elections, according to the state Campaign Spending Commission, down from the $2.2 million raised and $1.8 million spent in 2008.

In 1994, Senate candidates raised $1.4 million and spent $1.2 million.

A similar pattern has played out in state House campaigns.

House candidates raised $3 million and spent $3 million in 2010, according to the commission, raising slightly less than the $3.1 million raised and spending more than the $2.5 million spent in 2008.

In 1994, House candidates raised $3.4 million and spent $2.5 million.

The statistics show that fundraising and campaign spending have not increased substantially in state House and Senate races since the mid-1990s.  While political insiders who work on campaigns say money is important, it has much less weight than in gubernatorial or federal elections. Other factors, such as party and labor union endorsements and grassroots organization, can have significant influence on campaigns.

3 Responses to “Stillwater”

  1. ohiaforest3400:

    Unless I’m reading this too literally, these numbers represent fund raising and expenditures only by the candidates themselves. With the SCOTUS decision in Citizens United and related cases, the figures to watch in determining the influence of money in campaigns are those generated by independent entities. I’ll bet those numbers were headed north at a faster rate than direct fund raising/expenditures even before Citizens United and that, afterwards, they have gone vertical.

  2. Goober:

    Donations are not coming from the 99%. The 1% who have the money pull strings. Any Politician is a marionette and have their strings pulled. Unless you are a Donald Trump who plans to Bankrupt America and fire everyone who is not up to his standards. He wants to be the only 1% and to him the rest of the 1% can join the 99%. He is the one yanking our chains.

  3. Kolea:

    I think the pattern of incumbency probably minimizes the influx of significant out-of-state money. The Dems have stable control over both chambers of the Lege. If the Republicans had a chance of taking over, I expect we would see a lot more money going into their campaigns, including some coming from these megalithic “independent” operations like Karl Rove’s Crossroads.

    Right now, if someone wants to run for the State House as a Democrat, they have to approach a few significant networks to seek support. First off, which House faction will they be aligned with, the Speaker or the dissidents? If the faction believes you can mount a credible challenge, they are likely to advise you on campaign strategy, tactics and help you raise money from various interests who support them.

    You should approach the unions, who are by no means united over who should be elected. Even among the public sector unions, they may disagree. ILWU can play a significant role, particularly in former plantation areas. Local 5 tends to be more liberal. The building trades are not untied, but tend to support “pro-development” candidates. Their individual leaders are often social conservatives.

    Under such a set up, I would not expect to see lots of corporate money. It does not take much to win support of a faction’s leadership and it would take too much to dramatically overthrow the stability of the system. So things are static and low-maintenance. For now. We’ll see if Dylan Nonaka is able to shake the trees and get significant mainland money funneled through his startup operations.

    The big place for out-of-state, corporate money, will probably be the US Senate and First CD races. When Ed Case ran against Senator Akaka, the National Association of Realtors Political Action Committee spent just over $600,000 on Ed’s behalf. That was the first such HUGE expenditure by out-of-state commercial interests. I expect we will see a massive inpouring of money for Lingle and Djou, as mainland corporate interests see both seats to be competitive. And the Lingle seat is especially important, as the GOP may be able to take control of the US Senate, replacing all the Democratic committee leaders with even friendlier Republicans. A Lingle victory can help that happen, so a lot is at stake. National money will also necessarily come in to support whoever wins the Democratic nomination. Color me “biased,” but I do not see how the Dems will be able to compete against the national Republican moneybags. The Dem might still win the Senate seat. But that will depend upon the mobilization of the Democratic base and the local unpopularity of the national Republican message more than the millions which will be spent on television ads and slick mailers.

Leave a Reply