Campaign cash dash: Outside money may total $2 Billion nationwide

By KBJR News 1

July 31, 2014 Updated Jul 31, 2014 at 4:33 PM CDT

DULUTH, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) --- Four years after a landmark Supreme Court decision, the amount of money being spent in elections by outside groups has skyrocketed.

Super PAC's and third party groups are expected to raise and spend $2 billion this election season, according to a New York Times election analysis.

The 2014 midterm elections is on pace to dwarf all previous midterm elections in terms of campaign cash. This means congressional campaigns will have presidential-like budgets going into primaries across the country and ultimately the election this November.

Despite the television battle field of attack ads, candidates are pressing the mute button and pounding the pavement to bring their message to voters.

Democrat Jennifer Schultz is running to represent Duluth in House District 7–A. Schultz says she enjoys interacting with voters, but the influx of outside dollars makes it difficult for candidates like her to control their campaigns' message.

AFSCME and House Majority PAC spent $150,000 to air an attack ad against Republican candidate, Stewart Mills, in Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District race.

However, that sum is a small portion of the $124 million spent so far by the top four Super PAC's in the country.

According to a Northland's News Center analysis of campaign finance reports in Minnesota, the top 25 third party groups in the state have raised more than $15 million to spend on issue advocacy and supporting various candidates in local races.

At the state level in Minnesota, Democratic leaning third party groups have the cash advantage going into November, according to recent campaign finance reports released Tuesday.

Alisa Von Hagel, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin Superior says there is an uproar of political dissatisfaction over how much money outside groups are spending to attack candidates.

"There is a general outcry among the public and many people in Washington and in state governments across the country to limit the amount of money involved," Von Hagel said.

According to the New York Times, political advertising is up 70% and is accelerating the rise of moneyed interest. Some say attack ads from outside groups may contribute to an increasingly negative political tone.

"These attacks aren't coming from a candidate's campaign, it's coming from the outside," Von Hagel said. "So in a way that could perhaps protect or buffer candidates from claims they are engaging in this very negative political atmosphere."

DFL Majority Leader, Erin Murphy, said in certain ways she is "happy" third party groups are running more advertisements, but she wants to make sure candidates like Schultz are able to effectively communicate with voters.

"We did raise the spending limit – what people can spend on their campaigns – so we have a better opportunity to communicate directly with Minnesotans about what we stand for," Murphy said.

We will continue to analyze the rise in political contributions on NNCNOW.com

Nick Minock
nminock@kbjr.com