Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Elections and Campaign Cash: Cost to run creeping up even in local races

Madeline Rogero needed about $6,800 in campaign cash when she successfully unseated then-2nd District Knox County Commissioner Jesse Cawood in 1990.

More than two decades later, she’d end of spending 70 times that amount to win the city’s mayoral seat.

When her current term is up in four years, local experts expect that race to cost even more.

It’s a trend, they said, and one that isn’t going away.

“Yes, it’s an unfortunate one and I don’t see it tapering off,” said Victor Ashe, who served as Knoxville’s mayor for 16 years and is now a local political columnist. “Certainly someone with the shoe leather can still prevail even if you’re outspent three-to-one, but in a larger race for city or county it becomes more difficult. You can’t meet all the voters.”

Ashe knows a thing or two about raising money.

Mark O'Gorman
As a state representative and state senator in the 1970s and 1980s, he routinely brought in $30,000 to $40,000 per campaign. But it wasn’t until 1987 when he decided to run for mayor that he truly needed the big bucks: at least $350,000.

“The money was no guarantee to win, but it sure helped,” Ashe said. “It gets you an ability to communicate directly to potential voters. It certainly enables you to be front and center in the voter’s mind.”

Mark O’Gorman, a political science professor at Maryville College, agreed.

“Money does two or three things,” he said. “It’s a strong indicator in terms of support of candidates. It shows that you can get money (and) it shows you have people who are willing to put their money where their mouth is. It’s a good pre-voting indicator.”

Experts note that each race is different and the amount raised is tied to the number of candidates and just how much effort those running put into the race. Those who spoke with WBIR 10News said there is no average amount or threshold per contest that someone seeking office needs to hit, and that money is certainly no guarantee to win. But, they said it’s getting more and more expensive to seek office, even in smaller contests like school board seats.

Rest of story RIGHT HERE.

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