$8.25M to win your vote for Congress
Records show what it took for Wild to beat Nothstein, Silfies.
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.