WSW: Money Flows To Handful Of Michigan's Congressional Races

Apr 25, 2016

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More than $3-million was raised in the first quarter for candidates running for Congress in the state. But five of the 14 races stood out for the amount of money flowing in. 


Michigan Campaign Finance Network Director Craig Mauger examined the campaign finance reports and joined WMUK’s Gordon Evans.

Mauger says the 6th Congressional District is one of the five where at least $500,000 has been raised for all of the candidates running. Republican Fred Upton raised over $386,000 in the first quarter for his re-election campaign. Mauger says more than $300,000 came from political action committees.

Upton’s Democratic opponent Paul Clements raised 143-thousand dollars in the first three months of the year. Mauger says while that’s much less than Upton raised, it’s an impressive number for a challenger trying to unseat a long-term incumbent member of Congress. Mauger says about $15,000 came from political action committees. He says it’s normal for challengers and incumbents usually have different strategies for raising money.

Four other Congressional races in Michigan have seen half a million dollars in contributions. That includes two open seats, where Republicans Candace Miller and Dan Benishek have decided not to seek re-election. Mauger says most of the money is Miller’s district on the east side of the state is in a very competitive Republican primary. Benishek’s seat, which includes the Upper Peninsula is considered a competitive race and has attracted large donations for candidates of both parties.

Two other races with incumbent Republicans have attracted large sums of money. 7th District Congressman Tim Walberg is being challenged by Democratic State Representative Gretchen Driskell. Mauger says both candidates are raising large sums of money. He says the 7th District race is more competitive financially. Driskell raised slightly more money than Walberg in the first quarter. 

The 8th district race features Democrat Melissa Gilbert challenging first term Republican Congressman Mike Bishop. Mauger says Gilbert’s campaign is being helped by the actress’ ties to Hollywood. Contributors to her campaign include celebrities such as Ben Affleck and Leonard DiCaprio. But Mauger says Bishop is also known for his fund-raising ability, and that is likely to be an expensive race.

Mauger says the current fund raising numbers are a signal that candidates are serious. But he says as the race heats up closer to the November election, more outside money will come in. Mauger says where the money goes at that point will indicate where large donors believe a race is close, and where funding can have more influence in deciding an election.