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Recent columns in various newspapers have reprimanded the governor for how much he spent on several legislative races. I’m not condoning the governor’s actions, nor am I condemning him for taking an active part as a private citizen in our legislative races, especially since he is using his own money. Individual candidates can spend their own money to get elected, but generally that is not looked upon favorably by the voters. It is much better to fund a campaign with small donations from your constituents. Unfortunately, the amount of money which is needed to run a successful campaign can be larger than what can be raised by those small individual contributions from within a legislative district. I thought it would be interesting to bring to your attention the amount of money that is contributed to candidates for the legislature by political action committees, or PAC’s. These top 10 donors probably exceed 50% of all the contributions made by PAC’s to candidates for Nebraska legislative races. All of this is public information that can be found on the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure web site www.nadc.nebraska.gov.
According to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure web site the top 10 PAC contributors were:
1. Nebraska School Education Association-$322,407.09
2. AGC PAC (Highway Improvement PAC)-$166,361.76
3. Nebraska Realtors-$162,348.77
4. Nebraska State Chamber-$103,685.50
5. Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys-$87,622.50
6. Mutual of Omaha-$84,325
7. Firefighters for Better Government-$73.930.95
8. Nebraska Bankers-$68,054.67
9. Associated Beverage-$62,065.00
10. Citizens for a Better Tomorrow-$57,364.70
These figures are as of the last reporting period, through October 24. I’m sure these numbers will increase even further once the final reporting period of December 31 has passed. Those final figures will be made public on January 17, 2017.
In one particular race during this last election, a candidate spent almost 3 times as much as his opponent and still lost. Clearly, money doesn’t necessarily translate into a successful campaign. Generally the message is the most important thing, and being able to get that message out to the voters is critical. There are only so many doors which can be knocked on, and only so many phone calls which can be make, in the short time leading up to the election. Fliers, phones for volunteers to make calls, radio ads, and billboards all cost money. These are all part of the reason why such large amounts of money are required for campaigns.