Campaign Spending Dropped 25 Percent

Posted January 3, 2003 at 5:02pm

While overall spending in Senate campaigns was down nearly 25 percent in the 2002 elections, according to the Federal Election Commission’s latest tally of fundraising activity, at least 45 Senate candidates still spent upwards of $2 million on their respective bids last year.

North Carolina’s newest GOP Senator, Elizabeth Dole, led all candidates in the money chase, raising nearly $13.7 million and spending $13.6 million on her successful bid to replace retired Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.).

Her opponent, Democrat Erskine Bowles, came in a close second, raising $13.3 million and spending $13.2 million on his unsuccessful campaign.

The FEC study, which was released last week, is based on data provided by campaign committees through Nov. 25, 2002.

Those top-dollar races, however, were still a far cry from the more than $60 million and $30 million that folks like Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) spent on their contests in 2000.

Despite coming in third and fourth, respectively, in the 2002 money chase, outgoing Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-Mo.) and New Jersey Republican Doug Forrester could not pull out wins in their races. Carnahan raised and spent around $12 million, while Forrester raised and spent more than $10.5 million.

At the same time, all House candidates raised $539.5 million, a mere 1 percent increase from the 2000 campaign cycle.

By way of comparison, between 1998 and 2000, House financial activity jumped by about 30 percent, according to the FEC.

Jim Humphreys, a wealthy Democrat who made his second unsuccessful run for Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-W.Va.) seat, amassed a war chest of $8 million, while former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) raked in a whopping $5.7 million and spent about $3.2 million, though much of it went to help other Democratic candidates.

Moreover, the $2.6 million cash on hand that Gephardt still listed in his coffers as of Nov. 25 could come in handy as he explores a run for the hotly contested Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.

At least four Democratic House candidates topping the fundraising charts lost their Congressional races.

Democrat Wayne Hogan raised $4.6 million in Florida’s 7th district, making him the third-biggest fundraiser among House candidates, but still lost to Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.).

Likewise, Democrat Harry Jacobs raised $4 million in Florida’s 24th district but nevertheless lost to Republican Tom Feeney, who won with 62 percent of the vote and about $1.9 million in expenditures.

In Georgia, Democrat Roger Kahn lost his race to GOP candidate Phil Gingrey despite raising $3.6 million to Gingrey’s $1.9 million, and New Hampshire Democrat Martha Fuller Clark lost her race after pulling in $3.5 million in contributions.

At least six Senate and a dozen House candidates posted at least $1 million in debts after Election Day, almost all of it money loaned to their own campaigns.