Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): Campaign finance reports are in

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Campaign finance reports are in

And, as always, the amount of money flowing to candidates and campaigns is shocking to me. Startling even.

In the majority of races, he with the most cash wins. At least, that's the conventional wisdom. Kansas Watchdog typically does a very thorough job of parsing through the reports as they become available. (The Watchdog website has changed, so I'm having trouble finding the information, but you can also check out the reports themselves online at the Kansas Ethics Commission or for a 140-word summary of many races, check out Kansas Watchdog's Twitter feed.)

I have yet to dig through the campaign finance reports, because a) I am helping with some campaigns and b) I have a life outside of this politics junk. BUT, I fully intend to spend some time with a calculator once this primary is over to truly determine how much needs to be spent per voter in order to draw a win.

A political consultant told me that in order to win a Kansas House primary this year, candidates should spend a minimum of $10,000. This seems insane to me considering the newly-drawn districts contain 22,700 people. That's 44 cents per man, woman and child in a House district. Remove Democrats, unregistered adults and children and we're talking about a candidate spending easily more than 50 cents per voter. And in reality, it's much, much more, because even all registered voters won't make it to the polls on Aug. 7.

Those racing for the Senate will spend quite a bit more. I anticipate about 7500-9000 voters in some of the sharply contested Senate races. I'm thinking Tim Owens vs. Jim Denning; Jeff Melcher vs. Pat Colloton; Charlotte O'Hara vs. Pat Apple.

As of July 26, Sen. Pat Apple has spent the most of the bunch -- clocking in expenditures of $60,872. This is crazy. That's nearly $7 per voter, assuming 9,000 people actually vote in the 37th District. (Side note: My aunt who lives in that district said she is receiving almost a postcard a day from Apple and one or two a week from O'Hara.)

O'Hara has spent $18,492 in this campaign, according to her report. That's a little more than $2.05 per voter assuming 9,000 people vote. ( I think it's obvious which of these two candidates is the fiscal conservative.)

Over in the 11th District, Colloton has outspent Jeff Melcher, but not by much. She's spent $44,805, or almost $5 per voter. ($4.98). Melcher has spent $40,909, or $4.55 per voter. (And I take that back about the TV commercials -- apparently Melcher has purchased $7,000-plus worth.)

In what I would call the headline race of Johnson County, Jim Denning has to date been outspent by incumbent Tim Owens. I'm shocked SHOCKED that these two bitter candidates haven't outspent everyone in the state, but like I've said before, I'm no insider. In the 8th District, Owens has spent $40,451, or about $4.50 per voter. Denning has spent $27,396, or about $3.04 per voter.

All of these figures, again, are per voter. Per vote, the numbers are even higher, because we can absolutely assume that no candidate will win every single vote cast.

Most pundits and reporters will spend the next few days trying to figure out who donated how much to whom. Very little of that information will be surprising. The "traditional" Republican PACs will have funneled large sums to the mods. The Kansas Chamber and conservative groups will have funneled money to the conservatives.

What will be more interesting to note when it's all over is, just how much does a candidate need to spend per voter to win in Kansas? And how much cash can be made up by grassroots door-to-door campaigns? Or can money simply buy an election?

I guess we'll find out on Aug. 7.

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