LANSING - Spending by outside groups is already nearly twice what the candidate committees have raised in Michigan's most hotly contested congressional race. Through the pre-general campaign finance reports, incumbent Republican Rep. Dan Benishek had total receipts of $1,889,740 and Democratic challenger Gary McDowell had total receipts of $1,391,121 in the contest to represent Michigan's 1st Congressional District. Meanwhile, outside groups have spent $6,021,435.
The spending by outside committees has favored Mr. McDowell, $3,695,346 to $2,326,089, giving the challenger an overall financial advantage so far.
Leading independent spenders supporting Mr. Benishek and opposing Mr. McDowell are the National Republican Campaign Committee, $1,642,601, and the nonprofit Crossroads GPS, $498,198.
Leading independent spenders that are helping Mr. McDowell include: the League of Conservation Voters, $900,059; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $706,954; House Majority PAC, $511,640; AFSCME, $310,338; and SEIU, $293,322.
A complete list of independent spenders has been compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics from reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
A relatively modest amount of independent spending has occurred in two other Michigan congressional races that appear to be competitive from a campaign finance perspective. They are the 3rd and 11th Districts.
In the 3rd District, overall fundraising has been close between Republican incumbent Justin Amash, $1,221,274, and Democratic challenger Steve Pestka, $1,471,265. As of October 17th, Mr. Amash had $437,940 cash on hand, while Mr. Pestka had $90,777. The SuperPAC FreedomWorks for America has spent $128,830 assisting Mr. Amash.
In the open 11th District, Democrat Syed Taj has raised $627,900, and had $63,577 cash on hand on October 17th. Republican Kerry Bentivolio has raised $430,041 and had $82,890 cash on hand. The American Medical Association spent $250,011 doing research to assist Mr. Taj. The PAC Freedom's Defense Fund has spent $135,270 assisting Mr. Bentivolio, with a collection of other nonprofits kicking in $90,000.
No other Michigan congressional races appear competitive from a campaign finance perspective.
Michigan's U.S. Senate race has very lopsided campaign finances. Through the end of September, incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow had raised $13,659,034 since her last election, while Republican challenger Pete Hoekstra had raised $4,898,442. Mr. Hoekstra's financial disadvantage was made worse by a competitive primary where he spent $2.5 million. The notable independent spender in the campaign is the SuperPAC Hardworking Americans. It has spent $1 million for attack television advertising but its donors have not been reported yet.