As Jessie Unruh said, money is the mother's milk of politics.
Well, mommy sure has been pumping it out this year.
To date, the candidates for congress, governor and U.S. Senate have spent a total of $73 million
But wait, there's more.
They had $38 million left to spend in the final weeks of the 2006 fall campaign.
By Nov. 7th, election spending by these candidates should exceed $111 million.
And that doesn't include the money being spent on behalf of candidates by party committees and various soft-money groups, a figure which I expect will total another $10 million, most of it going directly into television.
Nor does it include the millions being spent for state House and state Senate races, which I estimate will top $12 million this year.
Estimated grand total, when all is said and done, probably $130 to $140 million
. It will average out to about $35 for each voter who shows up on Election Day. And that's a conservative estimate.
The most expensive race, not surprisingly, is the contest between U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum
and Bob Casey Jr.
The two candidate have spent $31 million so far, and had a total of $7 million on hand as of Sept. 30th. As of that same date, Santorum had outspent Casey $18.8 million to $11.2 million, but the yield on the extra $7.7 million Santorum spent has been poor. He has yet to break 40% in most of the head-to-head public opinion polls.
The most lopsided race, in terms of money and (most likely)in votes, is the race for governor. As of Sept. 18th, the two candidates had spent a total of $16.7 million and they had $17 million on hand to spend in the final seven weeks. But those totals are deceptive. Incumbent Gov. Ed Rendell
($12.6 million) has outspent Republican Lynn Swann
($4.1 million) by a margin of 3-1. Rendell has enough on hand to continue that pace. As of the latest report, he had $13.7 million in his campaign account, compared to $3.7 million for Swann. Another spending report is due next Friday.
The most expensive Congressional race so far has been in PA6, the Montco-Bucks-Chesco-Berks district where incumbent Republican Jim Gerlach
faces Democrat Lois Murphy
. The two had spent a total of $3.7 million as of 9-30, and had $2 million left. This is one race where the spending is even: Murphy has matched Gerlach dollar for dollar. This is also a race where the party committees are likely to match candidate spending in the final weeks. Here is OpenSecret.org's PA6 summary
Close behind, we have the race in the Bucks-centered PA8 between incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick
and challenger Pat Murphy
. They had spent $3.2 million as of 9-30. This is one district where the challenger had the money edge going into the final weeks. Democrat Murphy had $632,000 on hand on 9-30, compared to Fitzpatrick's $446,000. Here is a PA8 summary
Finally, we have the Delco-centered PA7, where incumbent U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon
faces Democrat Joe Sestak
. As of 9-30, the two had spent $2. million and had $2.6 million left, with a slight edge to Sestak. One must wonder, though, whether word of the federal investigation into Weldon's daughter and political associate Charlie Sexton will make who spends what in the final weeks irrelevant. Here is a PA7 summary.
In PA10, which spreads across a multitude of counties in the state's northeast tier, incumbent U.S. Rep Don Sherwood
($1.2 million) has outspent his Democratic opponent Chris Carney
(660,000) by a margin of 2-1. But this may be another example of where money cannot buy happiness. Sherwood is being dragged down by his (admitted) extra-marital affair and his (denied) abuse of his mistress. Here is the PA10 summary.
Two other races of note:--
In PA12, in the state's southwest, warhorse U.S. Rep. John Murtha
is facing a challenge from Republican warhawk Diana Irey
. Conervative Republicans hope to punish Murtha for his outspoken criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq War. But, it will be hard for Orey to gain traction without more money. So far, Murtha has outspent her 5-1. Here is a PA12 summary
-- In PA13, which straddles Northeast Philly and Montco, freshman U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz
faces the unitentionally hilarious Raj Bhakta
. It's no content when he comes to money. Schwartz ($1.7 million) has outspent Bhatka ($352,000) by a margin of 5-1. Here is the latest PA13 summary
If your favorite congressional race was omitted, go to OpenSecrets.org