The Money Chase: Legislative Campaign Fundraising Totals

Earlier today, we gave you a look at the AG and SOS campaign fundraising totals. Now, let's examine the race to control the legislature.

As the Associated Press reported yesterday:

Democrats are steaming into 2008. The political action committee run by the Oregon House Democrats, Future PAC, has nearly $300,000 to spend in the new year.

The political action committee controlled by the Republican House caucus, by contrast, has about $20,000 on hand, even though the PAC reported raising about $242,000 this year.

To be sure, individual candidates are also raising money for their upcoming campaigns. More from the AP:

As many as a dozen seats could be closely contested in the state House — and in most, but not all, Democratic contenders are off to a faster fundraising start than their Republican counterparts. ...

Brent Barton, a young lawyer hoping to challenge Republican Rep. Linda Flores of Clackamas has a staggering $71,000 to spend — Flores has just shy of $10,000 on hand.

That's not to say that there are no bright spots for the Republicans.

Democrats would love the symbolism of taking the seat of retiring House Minority Leader Wayne Scott, R-Canby, who has been the public face of GOP opposition in Salem for years.

But Clackamas County Commissioner Bill Kennemer, a Republican, is off to a clear fund-raising lead, with almost $20,000 to spend. The candidate the Democrats are talking up, Oregon City Chamber of Commerce President Toby Forsberg, has just $2,300 on hand.

But enough of that. Take a look at the charts and box scores for the House and Senate campaign committees. [Editor's note: We've added a methodology clarification below.]

 Senate DemsSenate GOPHouse DemsHouse GOP
last updated12-30-200712-20-200712-14-200712-20-2007
2007 starting balance$47,883$30,321$104,542$79,910
current total$274,569$177,154$463,928$317,815
cash contributions15382180112
average contribution$1,432$1,650$1,954$1,872
daily pace (last 90)$829$737$3,338$1,300
daily pace (last 30)$1,131$982$4,440$1,376



[A few technical notes: We retrieved this data from ORESTAR on January 1, 2008. Because campaigns can choose to delay their reporting up to 30 days, some recent data isn't available yet. The "daily pace" is based on the last 30 or 90 days for which we do have data. Our chart starts in July 2007 because most campaigns didn't raise money during the legislative session. The "average contribution" is based on actual cash contributions since January 1, 2007 - while the "current total" includes in-kind contributions, sold items, interest income, and the starting balance. Also, some campaigns lump together under-$100 contributions into a single line item - so the number of contributions may be slightly understated and the average contribution slightly overstated. The official names of the committees here are Senate Democratic Leadership Fund, The Leadership Fund (Senate GOP), Future PAC (House Dems), and Promote Oregon Leadership PAC (House GOP).]

Update: A brief note on our methodology... These numbers include the initial cash-on-hand on January 1, 2007 plus all funds raised since then. We're attempting to measure campaign strength, and it matters whether you start at zero or $100k. The graph reflects this reality, and we've added a "starting balance" line to the box score for additional clarity.

2008 looks to be off to a great start for the Democrats. Discuss.

  • Emil (unverified)

    Special interest money is bad only when it's given to Republicans.

  • LT (unverified)

    With that amount of money, will FP still plead "we have to target due to limited resources", or will the possibly venture to help candidates who might just be the 2008 version of Gilbertson, Peralta, etc.?
    What is more important: getting to 36 seats or proving they are good at creating statistical models ("R to D ratio" implies NAV don't vote in legislative races) which tell them early in the year which candidates are "serious" and which aren't?

  • Ten to One (unverified)

    When you take into account that Brent Barton has raised $70,000 virtually out of no where and subtract that from the total lead of the House Democrats then really the Oregon House Dems and Republicans are relatively close.

    It is great news to see that Democrats are out raising Republicans, but I wonder how much of that has to do with grassroots support vs. the Lobby money going to those who are incumbents/in control currently and Brent Barton being an amazing fund raiser.

  • a nerd (unverified)

    Regarding "Take a look at the charts and box scores for the House and Senate campaign committees":

    Which 'campaign committees" are we talking about here? The actual candidate's committee, or those of the caucuses? If for candidates, are these only for candidates up for reelection (for Senate members, does this include those running for SOS)? Or are these totals a reflection upon both?

    A little more explanation on the methodology would be helpful. Thanks!

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    Emil is mostly right, though I know he was trying to be sarcastic. The special interests that donate to Democrats are largely groups that share our values -- living wages, healthy environment, adequate healthcare and education. The special interests that contribute to Reppublicans are largely group that seek their own interests -- tax cuts for the wealthy, corporate welfare, etc.

  • (Show?)

    Mr. Nerd... read the post.

    The official names of the committees here are Senate Democratic Leadership Fund, The Leadership Fund (Senate GOP), Future PAC (House Dems), and Promote Oregon Leadership PAC (House GOP).

    And Mr. Ten... given the above, Brent Barton's $70k isn't included in the totals.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Great news. Democrats may have rough parity with Republicans in the next election cycle.

    Unfortunately, the more money Democrats raise from sources that usually bankroll Republicans, the more Democrats behave like Republicans. It happens over and over at all levels of government. The pop-psych definition of insanity fits well: repeating a behavior over and over while expecting a different outcome.

    Yep, it's a big problem. Here's something easy you can do about it. Head over to the Rebooting Democracy site and vote to put Pete Sorenson's Voter Owned Elections initiative on the conference agenda. Voter Owned Elections, you know, it's what all you folks who opposed Measure 46 and 47 said you supported. Go support it. Stop acting like a disturbed dog chasing its own tale.

  • (Show?)

    Editor's note: We've added a clarification on our methodology above. We added a "starting balance" line to the box score, so that it's clear how much money campaigns started 2007 with and how much they've raised since then. The numbers are unchanged.

  • LT (unverified)

    This was just on the Oregonian Politics Updates website:

    House members campaigning this election year would not be allowed to raise money during next month's supplemental session under an agreement reached this week between House Majority Leader Dave Hunt, D-Gladstone, and House Minority Leader Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg.

    The two men want to ban members from taking checks from unions, corporations, and other political action committees while they are in Salem. That also goes for the caucus PACs, which aren't controlled by House rules, Hunt said.

    Here is my question: if caucus PACs aren't controlled by House rules, what controls them? Just the laws involving C & E reports by any campaign committee? No other oversight? Those of us who remember back almost 20 years ago remember Dix and Wiederanders and the mess they made of caucus finances have a right to ask that question. Some believe it was Dix and his actions which cost the Democrats the majority in the 1990 election. Even assuming that the current leadership does more than legally required, what is to prevent such a problem in a future session?

    One reason I favor a discussion of nonpartisan legislature is that it seems caucus offices are a world unto themselves. I doubt Democrats would be that stupid, but I have heard during the Minnis years a Republican state rep. could be given a scolding for even having lunch or otherwise socializing with a member of the "other party"--just not done!

    I do recall a friend running for state senate in the 1990s was told that if he were supporting a ballot measure to the point of being at the ceremony to turn in the signatures, he should be aware that the caucus didn't support the measure.

    I know all the arguments for partisan caucuses, from organizational to truth in labeling. But it seems to me that legislators acting as individuals (as they did in previous decades) creates a better legislative process. Wasn't it Snodgrass who announced from the Speaker's podium "our caucus has decided on a number for school funding" implying that wasn't a decision to be debated in open committee? Did her caucus members have the right to openly disagree?

    If there were a nonpartisan legislature, would there really be 31 people who organized themselves together to make behind the scenes budget or other decisions?

    Even in the current system there is the possibility of a power bloc. The "5 under 35" state reps in a 31 majority could support or block legislation because without them there would be no majority. In the early 1970s, women members in both parties passed legislation for women including economic legislation like fair credit reporting. One year, 10 women across the political spectrum exercised power that way.

open discussion

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