Congressional incumbents dominate money chase

They hold 96% of the cash with five weeks to go

LANSING – Michigan’s incumbent members of the U.S. House of Representatives maintain a wide fundraising advantage over the candidates who are challenging them this November. Campaign finance reports filed this weekend show that the incumbents who will appear on the November ballot have raised $12.3 million this election cycle through September 30th, while non-incumbents have raised $1.9 million. The 14 incumbent members of Congress have fund balances that total $7.3 million, while the challengers have $290,000 on hand for the last five weeks of the campaign.

Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-9th District) is the top fundraiser, having taken in $2.2 million. Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-3rd District) has raised the least among incumbents this election cycle, $399,000, but he has more than $430,000 in cash on hand.

Former state representative Tim Walberg, who defeated incumbent Rep. Joe Schwarz in the 7th District Republican primary, has raised $897,000, almost half the total raised by non-incumbents. More than two-thirds of Walberg’s total was raised as ear-marked contributions by the anti-tax Club for Growth, almost entirely from out-of-state contributors.

Three incumbents - Reps. Sander Levin (D-12th District), Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-13th District) and John Dingell (D-15th District) - will face challengers who have not raised any money. Reps. Bart Stupak (D-1st District), Peter Hoekstra (R-2nd District), Ehlers and John Conyers (D-14th District) face challengers who have fund balances of less than $500.

After Walberg, top fundraisers among the challengers are: Jim Marcinkowski (D-8th District): $409,000; Nancy Skinner (D-9th District): $280,000; and Kim L. Clark (D-6th District): $99,000.

Rep. Mike Rogers’ (R-8th District) fundraising advantage of 3.4-to-one over Marcinkowski is the narrowest ratio between an incumbent and a challenger.

“Between Michigan’s blatantly partisan redistricting process and the incumbents’ fundraising advantage, it’s small wonder that we have so few competitive congressional elections,” said Rich Robinson of the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “The best way to achieve a genuine contest of ideas and curb the influence of special interests in Congress would be to move to public financing of campaigns.”

Press Release 2006 News