By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog
ST. LOUIS – Fundraising is the engine that makes a campaign run.
You can’t pay to print campaign signs, put gas in tour buses or buy television advertisements without money.
Going by that logic, if recent campaign finance reports are any indication, Missouri can expect plenty of one-sided congressional races next week.
In the eight races for U.S. House, the money leaders – all incumbents running for re-election – have raised slightly more than $10.2 million as of Sunday, while challengers have collectively received just more than $1.1 million for their coffers.
Put another way, the incumbents, which consist of six Republicans and two Democrats, have raised 89 percent of the total in these races reported to the Federal Election Commission, while challengers have 11 percent of the campaign funds.
A Libertarian is in every race, but not one of them has reported receiving campaign funding.
Nadia Brown, a political science professor at St. Louis University, said not only do incumbents have the chance to build up large “war chests” during their time in office, but they also have other advantages.
“It’s not only the money,” she told Missouri Watchdog. “It’s the advantage of the name recognition and the ability to speak on your existing platform.”
Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill is running away with the U.S. Senate money tally, too, with about $18 million to less than $4 million for Todd Akin, but most pundits still expect a close race as the Republican has gained momentum after being shunned for his comments about “legitimate rape.”
The only semi-close race in campaign funds is in District 4, where Republican Vicky Hartzler has outraised Democrat Teresa Hensley, $1.36 million to $790,000.
In the District 3 race, Democrat Eric C. Mayer hasn’t put up a fight against Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer, reporting zero contributions to $944,000 for the incumbent.
Republican Robyn Hamlin has only raised $6,583 in District 1 in going up against longtime Democrat William Lacy Clay, Jr., who has $820,000 in contributions.
Ann Wagner, the Republican trying to take control of Akin’s old House seat in District 2, has outraised Democrat Glenn Koenen — $2.56 million to $36,000.
Brown said Missouri’s congressional races appear to heavily favor those already in office.
“I don’t think there will be much turnover,” she said.
Bob Biersack, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, which operates campaign finance tracking website
OpenSecrets.gov, said about 60 of 435 House races are competitive this year.
But, he said, it’s not always about who has the biggest pot of campaign cash.
“Almost every challenger who beats an incumbent in Congress spends less than the person they beat,” he said.
Biersack said as long as challengers can raise enough to get their name out there so voters know who they are and what they stand for, they can compete in a race. He said the amount needed is not a standard figure, and can vary by district with how the congressional lines are drawn and the political persuasion of voters being contributing factors.
Glancing at the Missouri races, Biersack said, the only challenger who might meet his criteria is Hensley, the Cass County prosecutor who has raised half as much as Hartzler in District 4.
“It’s not as much the fundraising gap as it is that the challenger has enough to be visible,” he said.