The invaluable (and recent Capital NY hire) Bill Mahoney published an excellent district-by-district analysis of spending in this year's state senate races and the numbers are completely off-the-charts bonkers.
Over $60 million dollars was spent in the battle for control of New York's upper chamber this year. Just one race, the race for the open 40th district seat in Putnam County, was more expensive than almost 400 of this cycle's races for the US House of Representatives. That's 91% of all House elections this year.
It is now cheaper to run for the United States House of Representatives that to run for a Putnam County seat in the New York State Senate. According to a Capital analysis, spending in the 40th Senate district came to $7.5 million, seemingly shattering existing records. This was more than was spent in 91 percent of congressional districts in this year's midterm elections.
Throughout the state, $60,195,708 was spent by and on the behalf of candidates on the ballot in either the primary or general. $15.05 million of this was spent in the form of independent expenditures by outside groups (almost exactly a quarter of the total); $8.82 million was spent by political parties; and the remaining $36.3 million, just more than 60 percent of the total, was spent directly by candidates' campaign committees.
The candidates that spent the most (and had the most spent on their behalf) won a staggering 60 of 63 contests. Only Jack Martins (R-Strong Island), George Latimer (D-IDC Curious) and Tony Avella (D-Openly IDC) won their races while being outspent.
As expected, the most expensive races were in those targeted districts in the Hudson Valley where the Republicans ran the table and ousted two first term incumbent Democrats and picked up the open seat vacated by Greg Ball (R-Polo).
That race in the 40th was the most expensive in the state with all parties spending a mind-blowing $7.8 million.
This election also appears to have shattered existing state records for the most expensive senate campaign, though it is impossible to say this definitively. The Latimer-Cohen race, the most expensive of 2012, barely topped $3 million. However, most independent expenditures did not need to be disclosed before this year, so previous outside spending efforts are unknowable.
This does not even include the $316,949 that was spent by candidates from this district who were not on the ballot this year, most notably retiring Senator Greg Ball. He still has three active committees – New Yorkers on the Ball, The Victory Cup, and The Pink Tide Project. If this money were included, the total would be $7,801,096.
The second and third most expensive races were the 46th ($6.8 million) and the 41st ($5.3 million). Republicans handily won all three of those contests.
Other notable races were the 34th ($2.8 million) where weapons grade asshole Jeff Klein outspent challenger Oliver Koppell by $2.5 million to just $316,000 and the 52nd ($1.3 million) where (the currently under indictment) Tom Libous outspent challenger Anndrea Starzak by $1.2 million to just $90K.
Numbers like this would've seemed completely absurd just a few cycles ago and they'll continue to grow in the post Citizens United world we live in.
As we've discussed before, there were plenty of incentives for deep pocketed donors to write those big checks this year. The fate of issues with enormous amounts of money at stake like rent control in NYC and mayoral control of schools will be decided in the senate next year. $15 million in independent expenditures to elect pols friendly to your concerns is nothing compared to the potential payoff for these donors. It's less than nothing. It's pocket change.
(image via brrybnds)