There were only a few competitive State Senate races in 2010. The Republicans won all of the close races with the exception of the 44th LD and 26th LD, where conservative Dems won by outspending their Republican opponents more than two to one. The following campaign spending figures are from the Public Disclosure Commission. (The figures do not include Koch brother spending in the 2010 WA elections, which has been estimated to have been over $300K against Oemig, Gordon and Kauffman. Much of the spending was on last-minute attack ads. Interesting how the Koch brothers do not target corporate Democrats.)
Two Progressive Dems Senate races (Dems lost both)
In the 45th LD, $290,000 Eric Oemig (progressive D) versus Hill (R) $411,000. Republican won.
In the 41st LD, Randy Gordon (progressive D) 260 Versus Litzow 400. Republican won.
Total 2 progressive Dems: $550,000 average = $275,000 each
Total 2 opponents of progressive Dems $811,000 = $405,000 each
R’s outspent progressive Dems $130,000 per race.
By comparison, four conservative Democratic Senator races (Dems won three and lost only one)
In the 6th LD, Chris Marr got 557 versus Baumgartner 450K Republicans won
In the 26th LD Derek Kilmer got 366 versus his opponent only getting 35
In the 44th Steve Hobbs 366 versus an R opponent at $188
In the 43rd Ed Murray $180K versus no opponent at all
Total 4 conservative Dems: $1.5 million average = $367,000 each
Total 4 conservative Dems opponents: $673,000 average = $168,000 each
Conservative Dems outspent R’s by $200,000 per race.
Middle of the road Dem Incumbent Senate Race: (Dems lost)
In the 47th, Kauffman 400K versus Fain $380 – Republicans won.
Total of all 7 Senate races described above: Dems lost four and won three.
But keep in mind that all seven races had Democratic Incumbents.
Pre-2010 election: 2 progressive Dems, 1 middle of the road dem, 4 corporate Dems. 0 Republicans
After 2010 election: 0 progressive Dems, 0 middle of the road dems, 3 corporate Dems, 4 Republicans!
Funding was PLUS $200,000 for conservative Dems per race to MINUS $130,000 for progressive Dems per race… for a total difference of $330,000 per race!!!
It is amazing what $330,000 per race will get you.
Progressive Dems lost in the 41st and 45th by just a handful of votes. On a votes per dollar spent basis, both Eric and Randy did far better than their Republican opponents and far better than any corporate Democrats running in competitive races. Had the funds been more fairly or evenly distributed, for example by moving $100 K each from Murray and Kilmer to Gordon and Oemig, we rank and file Democrats would not have been at the mercy of the “centrist” Road Kill Caucus in 2011 and we would not be in danger of losing the majority in the Senate in the 2012 General Election.
One Reply to “How money bought State Senate seats in the 2010 election”
This article is an example of the benefits of disclosure laws. Even better would be public financing of elections, so the winner doesn’t depend on who has the deepest pockets.
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