$8.25M to win your vote for Congress

Records show what it took for Wild to beat Noth­stein, Sil­fies.

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By Laura Ol­son

WASH­ING­TON – The Le­high Val­ley’s three con­gres­sional fi­nal­ists spent nearly $4.2 mil­lion on their cam­paigns, fed­eral records show.

That boils down to $21 per vote by win­ner Su­san Wild, a Demo­crat; $7 per vote by Re­pub­li­can Marty Noth­stein; and $6 per vote by Lib­er­tar­ian Tim Sil­fies.

Com­bin­ing that with $2 mil­lion from out­side groups, plus money spent by other can­di­dates in the May pri­mary, puts an $8.25 mil­lion price tag on the fight to suc­ceed long­time Con­gress­man Char­lie Dent in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

That’s $24.20 for each of the 341,047 votes cast in the pri­mary and gen­eral elec­tions for the 7th District, which cov­ers Le­high, Northamp­ton and part of south­ern Mon­roe coun­ties.

But it’s nowhere near the most ex­pen­sive House race in the coun­try. In Cal­i­for­nia’s 39th District, just east of Los An­ge­les, the can­di­dates and out­side groups spent nearly $37 mil­lion, mak­ing it the most costly gen­eral elec­tion race of the cy­cle, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics.

The Bucks County-based 1st District race made the na­tion’s Top 10 list. Re­pub­li­can U.S. Rep. Brian Fitz­patrick won a se­cond term amid a $31 mil­lion bliz­zard of money spent by him, his chal­lengers and out­side groups.

In the Le­high Val­ley race, the high cost of cam­paigns and the sources of con­tri­bu­tions arose dur­ing sev­eral can­di­date fo­rums. Wild pledged not to ac­cept cam­paign money from po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees rep­re­sent­ing

cor­po­ra­tions, de­scrib­ing such do­na­tions as “an in­her­ent con­flict of in­ter­est” for fed­eral law­mak­ers.

Noth­stein and Sil­fies ques­tioned that stance, say­ing she ac­cepted do­na­tions from other po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees that ac­cepted money from cor­po­rate donors. Sil­fies also crit­i­cized both his op­po­nents as “very well-fi­nanced.”

Wild de­fended her cam­paign fundrais­ing, high­light­ing what she de­scribed as con­tri­bu­tions from “value-based PACs” that re­ceive small do­na­tions from in­di­vid­u­als.

She also re­ceived sig­nif­i­cant sup­port from lead­er­ship PACs for in­cum­bent House Democrats, in­clud­ing the cau­cus’ speaker nom­i­nee, Nancy Pelosi, as well as from joint fundrais­ing com­mit­tees or­ga­nized by ma­jor Demo­cratic donors, like the House Vic­tory Project.

Wild has em­pha­sized her sup­port for a mea­sure that House Democrats in­tend to make their first leg­isla­tive act next year. The pro­posal, based on a mea­sure from Mary­land Rep. John Sar­banes, would over­haul vot­ing ac­cess, cam­paign fi­nance and ethics is­sues. Among its ex­pected pro­vi­sions are of­fer­ing match­ing fed­eral funds for small-dol­lar do­na­tions and re­quir­ing su­per PACs to dis­close their donors.

Wild’s fi­nance re­ports show her cam­paign spent $3.26 mil­lion, widely sur­pass­ing the $855,000 spent by Marty Noth­stein. Wild also spent more per vote: her spend­ing equates to $20.89 for each of her pri­mary and gen­eral elec­tion votes. Di­vid­ing Noth­stein’s spend­ing by his vote to­tals works out to $6.54 per vote.

Sil­fies spent $49,574, a tally that in­cludes $32,250 he re­funded him­self to mostly cover the $34,000 he con­trib­uted to his own cam­paign. His to­tal spend­ing was $6.19 for each gen­eral elec­tion vote.

While all three can­di­dates also were on the bal­lot for a spe­cial elec­tion in the 15th District to com­plete Dent’s term this year, their cam­paign ef­forts were fo­cused on the full two-year term in the 7th District, not the six-week post that Wild also won.

Over­all, Wild raised $3.27 mil­lion, in­clud­ing a $35,000 per­sonal loan she has par­tially re­paid. She had a lit­tle more than $12,000 in her cam­paign ac­count as of Nov. 26, Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion records show.

Noth­stein re­ported hav­ing just shy of $131,000 in his cam­paign ac­count. He has not re­paid a $145,000 loan he made to his cam­paign.

Sil­fies filed ter­mi­na­tion pa­pers to close his fed­eral cam­paign ac­count, which was empty at the end of the re­port­ing pe­riod.




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