LANSING – Competition for control of the Michigan House of Representatives is nearly dead-even in campaign finance terms. However, in the contest for control of the Michigan Senate, Republicans have raised twice as much money as Democrats, they’ve already spent 60 percent more money than Democrats, they have twice as much cash on hand as Democrats, and party support favors Republicans by a wide margin.
There are 35 incumbent Democrats and 23 incumbent Republicans among the contestants for 110 House seats. Including in-kind contributions, Democrats have raised $5,039,182, compared to $4,832,806 for Republicans. So far Democratic candidates have outspent their Republican counterparts by $190,000, and they have the advantage in cash on hand: $1,712,504 to $1,398,157. Republican candidates have incurred $1.3 million more in debt than their Democratic opponents.
Party independent expenditures have favored Republican House candidates, so far, $1,380,937 to $67,680. Between the caucuses’ PACs, the Democrats have a wide advantage in cash on hand: $1,306,385 to $206,638.
The $9,871,988 raised by House candidates, overall, is down by 15 percent compared to both 2006 and 2008, when candidates had raised $11.7 million at a corresponding point in the campaign.
In the Senate there are five incumbent Republicans and four incumbent Democrats among those running to fill the 38-seat chamber. Including in-kind contributions, Republicans have raised $8,017,315, compared to $3,807,708 for the Democrats. Republicans have outspent Democrats, so far, $4,631,765 to $2,916,972, and they have nearly twice as much cash on hand, $1,635,549 to $879,584. Republican candidates have incurred twice as much debt as the Democrats, $871,000 to $431,000.
As in the House, party independent expenditures have favored Republicans by a wide margin, $689,516 to $107,247. The Senate Republican Campaign Committee has a cash balance of $225,371, while the Senate Democratic Fund has a balance of $763,633.
Overall, Senate candidates' fund-raising of $11,825,023 is down by 8.8 percent compared to 2006.
RGA: The Source of MRP Independent Expenditures
The RGA Michigan PAC, a creation of the Republican Governors Association, has given the Michigan Republican Party $4,036,000 since August 31st, which has, in turn, been spent as independent expenditures supporting Republicans and opposing Democrats. The Michigan RGA PAC has taken in $8.4 million this year, a record for a Michigan PAC, and it reports a cash balance of $1.3 million. The political parties are not required to file any form of balance sheet, so it is impossible to determine what sort of cash reserves the MRP has.
The Michigan RGA PAC’s second greatest beneficiary this fall, after the Michigan Republican Party, was the campaign committee of Texas governor Rick Perry, which received $3 million. RGA MI PAC’s biggest named contributor this reporting period was Bob Perry, owner of Houston-based Perry Homes.
MCFN has already reported that the Michigan Chamber of Commerce has given the Republican Governors Association $5.4 million this year. Of that total, $1.6 million was routed to the Florida RGA PAC. MCFN has not been able to account for the other beneficiaries of the Michigan Chamber’s largess through the RGA, so far.
“Michigan has become a sandbox for the Ubermensch of Republican political donors,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “David Koch, Bob Perry, Boone Pickens, Paul Singer – they all get credit for putting money in the RGA Michigan PAC. I wonder if they know their money landed here.”
Of the $8.4 million given to the Michigan RGA PAC this year, just two percent came from donors with Michigan addresses.