In the Senate race incumbent Cory Booker (D) during the election cycle by October 15 had receipts of almost $18 million. His challenger Jeff Bell (R) raised $518,000. Today we have not only income inequality but electability inequality. In our federal elections only the financially endowed can succeed. Like a high stakes game of poker, even the better players don’t sit at the table if they can’t raise the money.
In the three races where Democratic challengers put up a strong fight but lost – CD 2, CD 3, and CD 5 – the Democrats were substantially out-funded by the Republican winners. By September 15 in CD 2 Incumbent Frank LoBiondo (R) had $1,018,417 and William Hughes (D) had $93,031. In CD 3 Aimee Belgard (D) had $368,115 and Tom MacArthur (R) who had loaned himself $5 million had $1,102,847. In CD 5 incumbent Scott Garrett (R) had $2,829,026 and Roy Cho (D) had $78,552. In three other races, CD 8, CD 9, and CD 10, where Democratic incumbents were dominant the Republican challengers by September 30 had submitted no financial reports presumably because their receipts did not exceed the $17,300 threshold. In every single Senatorial and Congressional race the candidate who raised the most won the contest.
While there has been discussion but no resolution about publicly financed campaigns, we are now in the world of Citizens United which has raised the problem to a whole new level. This Electability Inequality favors the wealthy, incumbents on key committees, and those supported by independent funders, corporations and other big spenders. Small donations from individuals are welcome but don’t cut the mustard. Pity the ten congressional candidates (Democrats and Republicans) who by September 30 had raised less than $150,000. They never stood a chance.