By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog
ST. LOUIS – Less than four weeks before Missouri’s Aug. 7 primary election, some of the races for congressional seats are seeing an influx of campaign contributions, including a hearty helping of special interest money.
Most eyes are on the state’s U.S. Senate race, with incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill waiting to see whom in a field of eight Republicans will challenge her in November.
A wealth of campaign finances are here, as the candidates collectively have reported to the Federal Elections Commission nearly $15 million in contributions, a Missouri Watchdog study found.
Leading the way is McCaskill, who has built a nearly $10 million war chest since being elected in 2006. OpenSecrets.org says she has more than $6 million cash on hand for the general election. She is unopposed in the primary.
Mary Boyle, spokeswoman for voter advocacy group Common Cause, said 2012 in the United States will be “the most monied election in our history.”
Her group says the influence of political action committees continues to grow at the expense of John Q. Public.
“We’re concerned about special interest and huge corporate money that drowns out the voices of voters,” she told Watchdog. “Certainly, we know money buys influence in politics. They’re serving the special interests rather than the public interest.”
About $2.1 million of McCaskill’s campaign money, or 22 percent, comes from PACs.
Todd Akin’s PAC total of $325,000 represents 17 percent of his reported $1.9 million in contributions.
to no campaign contributions, as does Libertarian Jonathan Dine.
House District 1
The House District 1 race pits two Democratic incumbents, thanks to redistricting by the Republican-controlled Missouri General Assembly after the 2010 Census.
U.S. Reps. Russ Carnahan and William Lacy Clay will battle for this St. Louis-area seat. Clay has been in Congress since 2001; Carnahan since 2005. Carnahan has raised nearly $1 million, more than double that of Clay, though each has about a half million in cash on hand as the primary approaches.
This appears to be a two-man race, as the other three names on the ballot report no gifts.
House District 2 is a runaway – at least contribution wise. That’s a surprise, considering it’s the seat Akin is leaving to run for a Senate post.
Republican Ann Wagner has raised nearly $2 million — about 10 percent from PACs — and still has more than half of that on hand for the stretch drive. Her primary challenger, Randy Jotte, is the only other candidate in the 10-person race to report contributions to the FEC, with less than $200,000 in donations.
House District 3
House District 3 is Carnahan’s old seat, and Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer looks to score one for the GOP. The seat has been under Democratic control since 1949. Luetkemeyer was elected to the state’s House District 9 in 2008, but a shifting population has Missouri losing a House member, and much of District 9 becomes part of District 3.
Special interests have accounted for more than 60 percent of Luetkemeyer’s funds, coming from such groups as the American Bankers Association and Jones Financial Companies. He’s raised about $620,000.
House District 4
Incumbent Republican Vicky Hartzler leads the fundraising effort in House District 4, with nearly $675,000. PACS — including The Larson Group and Every Republican is Crucial PAC — are responsible for 45 percent of her campain money,
Democrat Teresa Hensley has raised more than $250,000, while the other three competitors in the race haven’t reported donations.
House District 5
The incumbent Democrat in House District 5, Emanuel Cleaver, has received 72 percent of his nearly $700,000 from PACs,
House District 7
The House District 7 incumbent, Republican Billy Long, gets more than a third of his $575,000 campaign from PACs. The biggest contributors include Every Republican is Crucial PAC and Crawford Group.
Long’s opponents have no reports on record with the FEC.
House District 8
Her fellow candidates in that House District 8 race have yet to put up much of a fiscal fight.