Legislative candidates have raised $22.9 million

LANSING - Candidates for the Michigan legislature have raised $22.9 million so far this election cycle: $12,386,054 by candidates for the Michigan House and $10,556,850 by Michigan Senate candidates.

Those figures were compiled by the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network from post-primary campaign finance reports filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections.

Michigan House summary

Among the 220 House candidates who advance from the August primary to the November general election, 41 had filing waivers which mean they do not intend to raise or spend more than $1,000.

The average amount raised by the 179 primary winners who raised money was $50,223. The average amount raised by the 68 incumbents who won was $67,224. The average amount raised by the 111 winning non-incumbents who raised money was $38,853.

Overall, the House candidates who are advancing to the general election have raised $8,990,015.

Sixty-eight of the 69 incumbents who ran in the August primary were successful. The only incumbent to lose his primary was Rep. Frank Foster (R-Petoskey).

Among the 187 candidates who lost in the August primary, 45 had filing waivers. The 142 unsuccessful candidates who raised money took in an average of $23,916 and a total of $3,396,039.

Thirty-three candidates have failed to file complete records as of September 8th, including three incumbents: Reps. Brian Banks and Harvey Santana of Detroit and John Kivela of Marquette. All three are Democrats.

The three most expensive primary elections were in the 36th District Republican primary, where Peter Lucido defeated Stan Grot (candidates spent $411,000); the 107th District Republican primary, where Lee Chatfield defeated Frank Foster (candidates spent $338,000); and the 98th District Republican primary, where Gary Glenn defeated Karl Ieuter (candidates spent $305,000).

Independent expenditures that have been reported so far added another $27,000 to the Chatfield/Foster total and $45,000 to the Glenn/Ieuter contest.

Twelve candidates were able to win their primary against an opponent with more financial resources. They were Artina Tinsley Talabi (D-2nd Dist.), LaTanya Garrett (D-7th Dist.), Leslie Love (D-10th Dist.), Frank Liberati (D-13th Dist.), David Haener (D-23rd Dist.), Beth Foster (R-28th Dist.), Sheldon Neely (D-34th Dist.), Aaron Miller (R-59th Dist.), Cindy Gamrat (R-8oth Dist.), Todd Courser (R-82nd Dist.), Robert Kennedy (D-105th Dist.) and Lee Chatfield (R-107th Dist.).

Michigan Senate summary

Seventy-six Senate candidates advance from the August primary to the November general election. Fifteen of those candidates had reporting waivers.

Of the 61 candidates who advance and raised money, 28 are incumbents and 33 are non-incumbents. The average amount raised by incumbents was $209,276, and the total amount raised was $5,859,725. The average amount by the non-incumbents was $98,190 and the total they raised was $3,240,286.

Seventeen of the 37 unsuccessful Senate primary candidates had filing waivers. The 20 unsuccessful candidates who raised money took in an average of $72,842 and a total of $1,456,840.

Three Senate primaries topped $400,000 in candidate spending. They were the 37th District Republican primary, where Rep. Wayne Schmidt defeated Rep. Greg MacMaster (candidates spent $463,000); the 15th District Republican primary, where incumbent Sen. Mike Kowall defeated Matt Maddock (candidates spent $432,000); and the 4th District Democratic primary, where incumbent Sen. Virgil Smith defeated Rep. Rashida Tlaib (candidates spent $409,000).

Reported independent expenditures added $54,000 to the spending total in the Schmidt/MacMaster contest.

Four winners defeated an opponent with more financial resources. They were Sen Virgil Smith (D-4th Dist.), incumbent Sen. Vincent Gregory (D-11th Dist.), Marty Knollenberg (R-13th Dist.) and Cyndi Peltonen (D-13th Dist.).

Independent Expenditures: Better Disclosure Is Needed

While several significant independent expenditures that were made to influence the August primaries were reported, it is a certainty that many more have not yet been disclosed. Unlike federal campaigns, where independent expenditures must be reported within 24 hours, Michigan campaign finance law does not require independent expenditures to be reported once books have been closed for pre-election reports. As a result, a substantial amount of spending that was meant to influence the primaries won't be disclosed until October. That can, and should, be corrected by requiring 24-hour reporting of all independent expenditures that occur after books have been closed for PACs' pre-election reports.

Still other independent spending never will be disclosed. Gongwer News Service has reported that Americans for Prosperity - Michigan spent $1 million for direct mail into legislative districts across the state that passes as "issue" advocacy. Those communications omit explicit instructions on whom to vote for, but no discerning reader could possibly miss the point. Michigan voters deserve to know who is behind those messages in a timely manner.

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