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Record Spending This Election Season

By aaroncynic in News on Oct 27, 2010 8:40PM

2010_10_27_Barrels_cash.jpg This election season has been one of the most expensive in history in Illinois, in nearly every race for office. Last week, Fox News Chicago estimated that candidates in the Chicago area spent at least $61.1 million on television campaign advertisements alone. The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform reported that ten legislative races hit $1 million in campaign spending, with more than 60% of funds coming from legislative leaders. Even holding onto a Supreme Court seat shattered spending records. The ICPR reported this week $3.1 million dollars raised in the one-candidate retention contest of Justice Thomas Kilbride.

Thanks to the Citizens United decision, plenty of the money spent on campaign ads could be coming from any number of other sources as well. In many cases however, it’s difficult to track exactly what corporation or union is spending what dollars on which candidates. Thankfully, groups like the Sunlight Foundation are attempting to follow the outside money. In the race between Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias, independent interests paid more than $15 million so far in ads supporting or opposing the respective candidates.

With candidates of all political stripes and other organizations practically firing money out of cannons in order to secure a victory, we’re left wondering how budgets would shape up if that kind of cash could be raised to actually run things, instead of simply secure a seat. Since most ads and debates we’ve seen have been little more than schoolyard attacks, all of the money poured into the mid-term elections gets us nothing but expensive hot air.