Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Electioneering costs reach all new highs

Candidates spent over half a million 
dollars on three local and regional races

J-E News Editor
They say that the price of everything is going up, and running for political office is no exception. The astronomical cost of running for national political offices is old news, but 2014 saw the cost of some local and regional campaigns reach all-time highs.

Candidates running for office in 2014 racked up what just might be the most expensive election in the history or Webster County. According to data from the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance (KREF) the office of District 12 of the Kentucky House of Representatives, Webster County Jailer and Family Court Judge totaled $626,935.43. With a total number of 32,420 votes cast in those three races, the average cost of running for office was about $19.34 per vote in 2014.
The most expensive of the three races was that for Family Court Judge, which cost candidates a total of $317,611.12 for the May Primary and November General Election combined. That race included all of Crittenden, Union and Webster Counties.
The top spender was Webster County’s Ben Leonard, who KREF reports as spending a total of $183,988.89 ($88,951.63 in May and $95,037.26 in November). Crittenden’s Brandi Hagen Rogers came in a little lower at $107,973.02 ($37,805.09 in May and $70,167.93 in November).
The third candidate, Laura Alvey Peak of Union County spent $25,649.21 in the primary before being eliminated.
With 12,336 votes cast, that brings the cost of that election to about $25.75 per vote.
The second most expensive race in Webster County was that of 12th District State Representative, which encompassed parts of Daviess, Hopkins, McLean and Webster Counties. State Representative Jim Gooch (DEM) and opponent Dianne Mackey (REP) of Daviess County spent a combined $282,831.03 according to KREF.
Although both candidates ran unopposed in their respective primaries, Gooch spent $38,349.52 in May and Mackey dropped $64,880.17. For the general election those numbers rose to $70,763.62 and $113,837.72.
With 15,785 votes cast in that election in November, that breaks down to about $17.92 per vote.
The election for Webster County Jailer was also an expensive one, although not on the same level as the others. Jailer Terry Elder ($8,332.50) and opponent Jason Branson ($13,160.78) spent a combined $21,493.28 on the election.  A total of 4,299 voters voted in that election in November. That’s about $5.00 per vote.
Gooch and Elder, both incumbents in their respective positions, spent more money in 2014 than any of their previous campaigns.

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