April 18, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

The Most Expensive House and Senate Races of 2012

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
In their race for the Massachusetts Senate seat, Brown (above) and Warren spent more combined than in any other race in the country.

Ultimately, the conservative West was unable to overcome the even partisan split of the redrawn district and Obama’s strong performance statewide. That helped Murphy, who, despite spending more than $4 million himself, was vastly outspent in the coastal district.

Minnesota’s 6th District: Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann vs. Democrat Jim Graves

Candidates: $17,292,662

Outside: $190,340

Total: $17,483,002

After an unsuccessful bid for president, Bachmann found herself in a re-election campaign far more competitive than she could have anticipated. The third-term incumbent ended up topping Graves, a Minnesota hotelier, by a single point.

There was very little outside spending here, despite the closeness of the race. The vast majority of expenditures came from Bachmann, whose national fundraising network allowed her to spend more than $14 million — a mind-boggling sum for a House member, especially in a media market outside of New York or California.

California’s 52nd District: Republican Rep. Brian P. Bilbray vs. Democrat Scott Peters

Candidates: $8,109,616

Outside: $8,765,970

Total: $16,875,586

The self-described “best surfer in Congress” will now have plenty of time to hang loose in his beloved Pacific Ocean after falling just short of re-election. Peters, a San Diego port commissioner, defeated Bilbray by less than 7,000 votes and 1 point.

The redrawn San Diego-based district got tougher for Bilbray to defend, and he couldn’t hold on amid a barrage of outside spending targeting both candidates. Among House races, it ranked fifth in the nation in outside spending. The two House campaign committee arms each spent just less than $2.5 million, with $1.4 million from the GOP-aligned Americans for Tax Reform and $900,000 from Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC.

California’s 30th District: Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman vs. Democratic Rep. Howard L. Berman

Candidates: $11,405,112

Outside: $4,554,561

Total: $15,959,673

There may never again be a congressional race like this one. For the most part, the race was decided the day the new maps were approved. The two longtime members were drawn into the same San Fernando Valley district, but Sherman already represented about 60 percent of it, matching the percentage of the vote he took last month.

Still, Berman’s popularity on Capitol Hill contrasted with Sherman’s reputation for working the district and resulted in a tension-filled race — one that bubbled over at an October debate in front of a community college audience filled with political science students. Talk about a lesson in politics.

Both candidates spent about $6 million, while Sherman received big help from a national Realtors’ group and a California super PAC.

Illinois’ 11th District: Republican Rep. Judy Biggert vs. Democrat Bill Foster

Candidates: $6,809,739

Outside: $8,572,109

Total: $15,381,848

Democrats did Biggert no favors in redistricting, and she ended up being one of four Illinois Republican incumbents to lose last month. Despite the challenging district and worthy foe in Foster, a former congressman, the race still looked competitive. However, Foster won by a surprisingly high 16-point margin.

Both candidates easily eclipsed $3 million in spending, but the outside spending poured in as well. The NRCC spent more than $2 million, and the DCCC approached $1.5 million. Other groups supporting both candidates exceeded $1 million in spending as well — a lot of force for a race that turned out to be not close at all.

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