Federal Politics

Published — June 11, 2014 Updated — January 10, 2015 at 3:28 pm ET

Outside money pouring into governors races

National GOP, Democratic governors associations on pace to shatter spending records

Introduction

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder prepares to deliver his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate in Lansing. Carlos Osorio/AP

With the election still five months away, attack ads have already hit the airwaves in Michigan’s gubernatorial race thanks to two national organizations that are on pace to break spending records this fall as they duel over governorships in 36 states.

Through March, the Republican Governors Association has spent five times more around the country than it did at the same point four years ago while the Democratic Governors Association’s overall spending is double what it was in 2010, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service.

Both groups are “527s,” tax-exempt organizations named for the IRS code they fall under, which can accept unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations and unions. Depending on state rules, the money can be given directly to candidates or as independent advertising to goose a campaign.

Much of the money spent so far has been used on so-called outside spending, the controversial political advertising created independently of candidates. The two groups are typically the largest state outside spenders across the country, so their increased early spending likely indicates that outside spending will be higher across the board this election cycle.

Already the RGA has spent more than $15 million overall on its operations. By comparison, the group had spent just over $3 million through March in 2010, part of more than $110 million spent during the cycle that helped the party pick up five governorships previously held by Democrats.

At least $5 million of that 2014 spending has been used to flood the airwaves with early ads, including in the Michigan race that pits incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Snyder against presumed Democratic challenger Mark Schauer.

Snyder has been attacked for making cuts to education while his presumed Democratic opponent has been criticized for his support of the federal stimulus package when he served in Congress.

Michigan’s primary is in August.

The RGA has also targeted races with ads in Arkansas, Georgia, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

Separately the D.C.-based group has given $2.5 million directly to a committee supporting Florida’s Republican incumbent, Rick Scott, and $1.5 million to a committee supporting the Republican challenger in Illinois, Bruce Rauner, along with contributions to Republican groups in Texas, Maine, Pennsylvania and Kansas.

So far this cycle, the DGA has put up ads in Michigan and given more than $500,000 to a group active in the open Arkansas gubernatorial race. Overall it spent more than $6.75 million on its operations through March, compared with the $3.15 million it had spent at that point in 2010.

While most of the RGA focus so far has been on defending Republican incumbents, RGA spokesman Jon Thompson says that will change soon.

“We are focused on offense, too,” he said in an e-mail.

The RGA’s initial focus on seats already held by Republicans makes sense, said Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

“The RGA and the DGA are first incumbent-protection groups,” he said.

The RGA’s spending spree has been fueled by record fundraising so far this year.

While there were some concerns that the fundraising abilities of RGA Chairman and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie might be hampered by the so-called “bridgegate” scandal in New Jersey, the Christie-led RGA raised more than $22 million in the first three months of the year, nearly 2.5 times what it raised in 2010 and nearly double the DGA haul this year. While second quarter numbers won’t be available until July, the RGA’s Thompson said they will show continued strong fundraising and spending levels.

Despite being outgunned, the DGA has increased its early spending, in part, to help counteract the RGA’s fatter wallet by increasing awareness of their candidates earlier in the race.

“We find that a lot of times early spending is an effective investment,” said DGA spokesman Danny Kanner.

Kondik suggested the early spending may be inspired by President Barack Obama and his campaign’s early focus on attacking GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

“People looked at the Obama 2012 campaign and thought that early ad spending was effective,” he said. “They’d like for these races to not be competitive.”

However RGA spokesman Thompson said that his group’s early spending isn’t just a front-loaded push. Instead, he said, it plans to continue to spend heavily throughout the year.

That doesn’t mean Republicans gubernatorial candidates can necessarily count on more outside spending support than their Democratic counterparts.

The Center’s analysis of 2012 outside spending showed that a coalition of Democratic groups, including the DGA, and labor unions actually outspent pro-Republican groups in state races.

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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

thomas alessi
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thomas alessi

I am for Trump

Martin Shellabarger
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J. Stevenson, what are you drinking? Trump has more lobbyists in his administration than probably any other president. Trump is totally “for sale”, and the corporations know it. Grow a brain!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.