Case in point: The recent U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Cassidy defeated the three-term incumbent by a margin of 56-44% to earn his first six-year term in the U.S. Senate.
It was one of the most expensive races in the country and one of the most expensive in Louisiana history.
A total of $64.8 million was spent on the race with the candidates spending $37.9 million and outside PACs and Super PACS spending $26.9 million. All of this moula for a job which pays $174,000 a year. But the cost of power? Priceless.
Let’s break the race down further. Landrieu raised $20 million during the election cycle while Cassidy raised $15.5 million.
Landrieu spent $19.9 million in a losing cause, and Cassidy spent $14.7 million in a winning cause.
But that is just the tip of the political iceberg. Outside forces, separate from the candidates’campaign committees, played a major role in determining the outcome of the election.
Fax-Net research of figures provided by the Center for Responsive Politics reveals that PACs, Super PACs, and independent groups ran ads favoring Cassidy to the tune of $2.3 million. Ads ran against Cassidy totaled $10.9 million.
Landrieu, on the other hand, saw $13 million spent on negative ads against her and only $1.1 million in ads in her favor.
To put it another way, ads for Cassidy and against Landrieu totaled $15.3 million. Ads for Landrieu and against Cassidy totaled $12 million. The amounts have been rounded off for clarity.
The race, some government watchers say, shows how big money has taken control of the political landscape, while cries for campaign finance reform fall on death ears.
Polls indicate that a majority of voters are increasingly concerned about the amount of money being spent on federal elections, the number of millionaires in Congress, and the lack of clout of the small contributor.
The question is what can they do about it. Not much, apparently.
Hey brother, can you spare a...
No, gubernatorial hopefuls are not looking for a dime...think in terms of $5,000. That’s the maximum contribution an individual can give. And many are indeed giving.
The latest campaign finance reports for potential candidates for governor of the Pelican State show that the race is already well underway and that a lot more fundraising is ahead.
Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, considered the frontrunner among potential candidates, raised $1.5 million through a third-party Super PAC, The Fund for Louisiana’s Future, in the last reporting period.
Vitter cannot use his federal U.S. Senate campaign funds to run for a state office. But he can give it to the PAC to support his candidacy. However, he cannot coordinate campaign activities with the PAC.
The Center for Responsive Politics reports that the PAC, which also supports other candidates, has raised of total of about $2.1 million.
Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who says he is running for governor, reported having $1.2 million in his campaign fund.
Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, who announced he will be a candidate for governor, has raised $1.5 million so far.
Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards, also an announced candidate for governor, had $475,000 cash on hand at the end of 2013. His report for 2014 was not available at press time.
Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy, who seems to be shopping around for another statewide office, perhaps governor, has nearly $3.5 million on hand in his campaign fund as of Dec. 31, 2014.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The 2015 governor’s race promises to be an expensive one, perhaps the most expensive in state history. So keep those checkbooks at the ready.
Qualifying for governor is Sept. 8-10, and the primary is scheduled for October 24.
Hot AG’s race predicted
All statewide offices will be on the ballot in October. One race is being touted as a “barnburner” by some political analysts.
It is the state Attorney General’s race where incumbent Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, who switched from Democrat to Republican in 2011, is seeking a third term as the state’s top legal officer.
But the re-election road for Caldwell will not be an easy one. So far, he has two announced opponents, and there could be others.
Considered his chief challenger at this time is former U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, a Republican from New Iberia. He has the support of U.S. Sen. David Vitter, and likely will be the candidate of the Louisiana Republican Party.
Landry, a Tea Party favorite, had $1 million in his campaign fund as of Dec. 31, 2014. Caldwell, on the other hand, had only $302,000.
Another challenger is Marty Maley, a Republican from Baton Rouge. As of Dec. 31, he had $45,000 in his camapaign fund.
But there is a long way to go as far as fundraising is concerned. We’ll know more when the first reports of 2014 are filed. They wll cover the period Jan. 1, 2014 through April 17 and are due at the Louisiana Ethics Administration on April 27.
Some politicos contend that Caldwell is in big trouble. But others say don’t be too quick to write him off. Caldwell is a tireless campaigner and a spellbinding speaker, who has many loyal supporters throughout the state.