Bill Knight column for Mon., Tues. or Wed., April 15, 16 or 17
Five months after the November election, campaign-finance reports finally show that three contested races in downstate Illinois last fall were some of the most expensive in the campaign, according to data compiled by the nonpartisan Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, which says that, together, they spent more than $3.7 million.
Two of the races attracted outside money and so-called “uncoordinated spending” by groups supposedly not affiliated with the campaigns.
The race for State Senate District 46 (parts of Fulton, Peoria and Tazewell counties) with incumbent Democrat David Koehler fending off challenger Pat Sullivan, a Peoria Republican, was the 3rd priciest race in the state Senate, says the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR), together totaling $1,722,684.12.
The campaign for State Senate District 47 (stretching from south of Quincy to northwest of Galesburg), with incumbent Democrat John Sullivan challenged by the GOP’s Randy Frese, was the 6th most expensive, at $1,415,247.67 including both candidates.
In the General Assembly’s House of Representatives, District 91 (parts of Tazewell, Fulton and Peoria counties), pitting incumbent Republican Mike Unes against newcomer Jennifer Groves Allison, a Peoria Democrat, was the 15th costliest race in the Illinois House, altogether spending $636.284.88.
There are 59 seats in the Illinois Senate; 118 seats in the Illinois House.
Financially, the Koehler-Sullivan showdown was fairly even, with both campaigns starting with more than $100,000 and receiving more than $700,000. Koehler’s total was $916,000; Pat Sullivan’s total was $806,000.
In John Sullivan’s District 47, the largest geographically in Illinois, the incumbent began the campaign with a better than 3-to-1 advantage, starting with $435,000 to Frese’s $127,000, and Sullivan then out-raised the Republican, generating $547,000 in contributions compared to Frese’s $305,000. Frese’s total was $432,000; John Sullivan’s was $982,519.
Unes’ advantage over Allison was even more pronounced, as the one-term Republican began the race with a balance of $301,000 compared to Allison’s $39,000. Likewise, Unes raised more than $200,000 as Allison raised slightly more than $84,000. Unes ended up totaling $512,000; Allison $123,000.
Outside interests were involved, too, reported the ICPR, which said the JOBS PAC committee paid Xpress Professional Services $15,000 in “uncoordinated spending” for voter outreach and calls supporting Republican Pat Sullivan in the Senate District 46 race.
Xpress Professional Services, which runs a polling group called We Ask America, is reportedly a for-profit subsidiary of the Illinois Manufacturers Association (IMA). The IMA, founded in 1893 to oppose the 8-hour day and in the 1930s opposed Social Security, has thousands of members, including Archer Daniels Midland, Caterpillar, Deere & Company, and State Farm Insurance.
In Senate District 47’s race, Frese separately benefited from $173,707 in “uncoordinated spending,” including advertising opposing John Sullivan paid for by Illinois Tea Party figure Adam Andrzejewski and his For the Good of Illinois PAC, and similar expenditures by Citizens for a Better Quincy, a political action committee formed by a majority of Quincy’s Republican aldermen. Citizens for a Better Quincy reportedly received tens of thousands of dollars from Chicago GOP interests to underwrite TV ads opposing John Sullivan.
Formed in 2010, the Citizens for a Better Quincy PAC is “a way to show we are serious about a long-term conservative vision for Quincy,” said Alderman Kyle A. Moore, quoted in the online Quincy Journal news site.
Moore last week defeated incumbent Mayor John Spring for mayor of Quincy.)
Broken down by vote, Republican Pat Sullivan lost in Fulton and Peoria Counties and won in Tazewell, spending $19 per ballot cast for him. Koehler spent $20 per vote.
In Senate District 47, John Sullivan won 10 of 11 counties, spending $19 per vote, and Frese, who won only Adams County, spent $10 per vote.
In House District 91, Allison lost in Fulton, Peoria and Tazewell (coming within 151 votes in Fulton) and spent just $6.40 per vote. Unes spent $21 per vote.
[PICTURED: Illustration from Allvoices.com]