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Wayne's Words: Running for office not for the poor

Wayne Horne | 7/23/2015, 11:53 a.m.
Local elected officials and candidates are accruing -- spending -- a lot these to win office based on campaign fund ...

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Wayne Horne

The economics of government is almost always the topic of debate before, during, and after elections. Government officials at every level almost always claim expenses are greater than the revenues being produced. Finding solutions often takes an entire term of office.

Campaigning for elected office usually costs money. Often those running for election, particularly at the federal level, can only consider doing so because they are wealthy or have the ability to raise large sums of money. Large, large sums of money.

Depending on which expert you believe, the current candidates running for U.S. president will collectively raise and spend $3 billion to $5 billion on their various campaigns. That’s big league.

It is still possible for an average citizen, even with limited resources, to run for political office at the county level or below but even that is getting difficult without substantial dollars or political party support. Municipal elections attract a lot of attention and tend to cost more than school board elections, for instance.

Campaign spending reports were filed last week by all of the elected officials in Illinois with campaign funds. The reports reflect spending for municipal elections held in April this year.

It comes as no surprise that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spent a lot of campaign cash getting elected. He raised and spent more than $22 million, according to his quarterly D-2 campaign finance report.

What is surprising, though, is he spent almost all of the money on his successful election for mayor of Chicago. The fund shows only $15,767 remaining for the next election. The money collected for campaign expenses was spent on campaign expenses.

No doubt more money will be raised over the next few months and years to increase resources needed for re-election. Most big city elections have had a money focus for the last 100 years. Until this last April election, Joliet campaigns have been largely financed by local employee unions and a few fundraisers.

During the 2011 mayoral campaign, the top three vote-getters for mayor of Joliet (Tom Giarrante, Warren Dorris and Jan Quillman) spent a combined total of $88,052. About half of the campaign contributions were from small donations or the candidates' own money, according to campaign D-2 reports.

The 2015 mayoral campaign, by contrast, had total expenditures by the two major candidates of $256,335 and less than 18 percent of the campaign contributions were from small donations to the candidates. The D-2 reports break down how much was raised and spent by the respective campaigns.

For the record, Giarrante spent about $17,000 more on his campaign than did new Mayor Bob O’Dekirk. Giarrante has funds available in his campaign fund of $3,700.

O’Dekirk has $25,332 left, but his campaign fund still owes him $30,000 of the $40,000 he loaned his campaign. He’s having a golf outing July 29 to add funds to his campaign.

The leading campaign fundraiser among all mayors in Will County is still Bolingbrook’s Mayor Roger Claar. According to his D-2 filings with the State Board of Elections, he has more than $700,000 available for future campaigns.

Over the last 12 months Claar raised almost $232,000 and spent more than $253,000. Less than $1,200 was from small contributions.

By the way. Claar wasn’t up for election in 2015. According to campaign finance reports over the last 10 years he has raised in excess of $6 million and spent $5 million. It’s an enviable fundraising record among his peers.

To put some of these numbers in perspective here’s a synopsis of some campaign funds of people you may be voting for in future elections:

  • Will County Executive Larry Walsh, $165,768;
  • State Sen. Pat McGuire, holding $194,936;
  • State Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., $102,321;
  • Romeoville Mayor John Noak, $32,314;
  • Frankfort Mayor Jim Holland, $77,846;
  • New Lenox Mayor Tim Balderman, $1,500.

If you want to see who gives to campaigns and how they spend the money, go to the Illinois State Board of Elections web site at www.elections.state.il.us and do a search.

Funny, candidates seem to always find the money for campaign funding but often collectively struggle to find the money to pay for government.

Stay tuned…