WSW: The Trend Of More Money In Politics Continues

Aug 3, 2017

State Capitol Rotunda - file photo
Credit Cheyna Roth, Michigan Public Radio Network / Michigan Public Radio Network

Michigan Campaign Finance Network Director Craig Mauger says the trend in politics is that every election is more expensive than the last cycle. He says the most recent campaign finance reports indicate that will continue next year.

Mauger says the money raised and spent by the candidates for governor far outpaces the 2014 election cycle and 2010, the last time that no incumbent was running for governor. He says the increase this time is driven in part by candidates on both sides contributing most of the money to their own campaigns.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network included fundraising totals for Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley. Both men are expected to run for governor, although they haven’t formally started a campaign yet. Mauger says both Schuette and Calley have been raising money since the last election even though they can’t run for their current offices again due to term limits. Money from those accounts can be transferred to a campaign for governor if and when it’s launched.

The Republican and Democratic caucus committees for both that support candidates for state House and Senate are raising more money for those races than at this point in previous election cycles. Mauger says it’s an early test of how much money may flow into state legislative races. He says that money will show up in television ads and other forms of campaigning in competitive races. Mauger says people who live in districts that are considered competitive, like the state Senate district which includes Kalamazoo County, and the state House district that included Battle Creek will likely see many of those ads.

Large sums of money are also being raised for ballot campaigns next year. The network examined six campaigns that are raising money. Mauger says three of them have raised more than $800,000 so far. One would make Michigan’s legislature part-time, another repeals the state’s prevailing wage, and a marijuana legalization has also topped $800,000 raised so far. Other ballot campaigns have raised far less money.

Mauger says those campaigns need to raise a lot of money just to get on the ballot. He says hundreds of thousands of signatures have to be gathered in a 180 day window. Mauger says the marijuana campaign seems like most likely to get on the ballot. The prevailing wage could be sent to legislature and approved without the governor’s signature, so it would not have to go to the ballot. The part-time legislature proposal has run into problems with ballot language. Mauger says the next few months should show how serious each of the ballot campaigns are.