2014 Looms as Most Expensive Midterm Election

Friday, 02 Aug 2013 10:26 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The 2014 midterm election is shaping up to be the most expensive ever, given the current pace of the campaign fundraising activities by incumbents from both parties.

According to the Federal Election Commission, the 27 incumbents seeking re-election already have raised about $125 million, as House and Senate members work to keep pace with super PACs and outside groups that are expected to spend millions of dollars on TV ads that target them.

According to Politico, the figure raised so far is $30 million more than at this point last year just a few months before the November general election, and it's about the same that was raised in 2010 when expensive races in California and New York drove spending sky high.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, is on top of the fundraising game, raising more than $15 million so far in his race against tea party candidate Matt Bevin in the Republican primary and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in the general election.

Two other prominent Republican senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas, each has more than $8 million each in his war chest. Democrats Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana have raised $4 million to $7 million each for their Senate re-election efforts.

"You have to do it because the other side is going to do it," said Pryor. “I don’t like fundraising very much. It’s the least-favorite part of running for an election to me. But it’s just the way it is now."

The candidates' campaign money will go primarily to counter attacks from their general- election opponents and independent groups working to defeat them. But many Republicans will be spending millions just to survive primary challenges from more conservative tea party challengers and the PACs backing them.

In Kentucky, for example, the powerful Madison Project on Thursday announced support for Bevin in his effort to unseat McConnell, who has fallen out of favor with many conservative tea party members in his state.

Likewise, another Republican, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, has drawn the wrath of many tea party followers back home and could face a primary challenge. He told Politico he plans to be ready for anything.

"I’m an old Boy Scout, and the Boy Scout Motto is 'Be Prepared'," Alexander said."So I’m prepared. I want to make absolutely sure that I have a good, strong re-election campaign, so I started early. I’ve already got $3 million in the bank, and I’m ready for whatever comes. Any senator running for re-election in this day and age does the same thing."

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