The amount of money being spent these days to win an elected office at the local, state, and national levels just boggles the mind. Obtaining power certainly does not come cheap.
Case in point: The recent U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Cassidy defeated the three-term incumbent by a margin of 56-44% to earn his first six-year term in the U.S. Senate.
It was one of the most expensive races in the country and one of the most expensive in Louisiana history.
A total of $64.8 million was spent on the race with the candidates spending $37.9 million and outside PACs and Super PACS spending $26.9 million. All of this moula for a job which pays $174,000 a year. But the cost of power? Priceless.
Let’s break the race down further. Landrieu raised $20 million during the election cycle while Cassidy raised $15.5 million.
Landrieu spent $19.9 million in a losing cause, and Cassidy spent $14.7 million in a winning cause.
But that is just the tip of the political iceberg. Outside forces, separate from the candidates’campaign committees, played a major role in determining the outcome of the election.
Fax-Net research of figures provided by the Center for Responsive Politics reveals that PACs, Super PACs, and independent groups ran ads favoring Cassidy to the tune of $2.3 million. Ads ran against Cassidy totaled $10.9 million.
Landrieu, on the other hand, saw $13 million spent on negative ads against her and only $1.1 million in ads in her favor.
To put it another way, ads for Cassidy and against Landrieu totaled $15.3 million. Ads for Landrieu and against Cassidy totaled $12 million. The amounts have been rounded off for clarity.
The race, some government watchers say, shows how big money has taken control of the political landscape, while cries for campaign finance reform fall on deaf ears.
Hot AG’s race predicted
All statewide offices will be on the ballot in October. One race is being touted as a “barnburner” by some political analysts.
It is the state Attorney General’s race where incumbent Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, who switched from Democrat to Republican in 2011, is seeking a third term as the state’s top legal officer.
But the re-election road for Caldwell will not be an easy one. So far, he has two announced opponents, and there could be others.
Considered his chief challenger at this time is former U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, a Republican from New Iberia. He has the support of U.S. Sen. David Vitter, and likely will be the candidate of the Louisiana Republican Party.
Landry, a Tea Party favorite, had $1 million in his campaign fund as of Dec. 31, 2014. Caldwell, on the other hand, had only $302,000.
Another challenger is Marty Maley, a Republican from Baton Rouge. As of Dec. 31, he had $45,000 in his camapaign fund.
But there is a long way to go as far as fundraising is concerned. We’ll know more when the first reports of 2014 are filed.
Some politicos contend that Caldwell is in big trouble. But others say don’t be too quick to write him off. Caldwell is a tireless campaigner and a spellbinding speaker, who has many loyal supporters throughout the state.
Getting an early start
Republican state Rep. Henry Burns, who represents House District 9, want to move up to the Upper Body of the Louisiana Legislature.
Burns officially announced last week that he will seek the state Senate District 36 seat, which is being vacated by Republican state Sen. Robert Adley, who is term-limited.
In declaring in Minden for the state Senate seat, Burns said, “With over 26 years in the military, 15 years on the Bossier Parish School Board, and 22 years as the owner of a local small business as well as my many years struggling and enjoying the oil field, I know I have the experience to understand the many challenges that we all face on a daily basis.”
Burns was elected state representative in House District 9 in the 2007 election. He defeated Republican Richey Jackson by 87 votes our of 10,363 cast. He was unopposed in 2011.
He retired from the Army as a Lt. Colonel. He owned the Wooden Spoon, where he became known as the “Cookie Man.” He recently sold the business. He is a thoroughbred horse owner and breeder.
BESE Board member Jane Smith is the scheduled speaker at the Republican Women of Bossier’s Tuesday, February 24 meeting. She will speak on Common Core and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The meeting is held in Azalea Hall, 2171 Airline Drive, Bossier City. Social hour begins at 5:30 p.m. and dinner is served at 6 p.m. For more information, call 318-965-5001.
Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.