Candidates on the ballot Tuesday for the Oklahoma House and Senate have raised a total of $5.2 million, an average of $60,000 per campaign for the general election, according to data pulled Wednesday from the Ethics Commission.
“It seems like it's getting more expensive every election cycle,” said Matt Pinnell, chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. “Candidates are having to raise more money, and most of that money is going to direct mail, to radio — you even have now these days, which I don't think was the case a decade ago — you have state House and state Senate candidates running TV ads now.”
Republican candidates have raised $2.9 million for the legislative seats, while Democrats have raised $2.3 million. The data does not include contributions that were less than $50.
Trav Robertson, executive director for the Oklahoma Democratic Party, said those close numbers are due in part to being underestimated as a political party this campaign season.
“While everyone is talking about how poorly Obama is doing in Oklahoma, it doesn't seem to have an overall impact on Democrats' ability to raise money,” Robertson said. “We have fielded candidates who not only have the drive to win, but also took it upon themselves to make sure they were in the financial position to win.”
By the numbers
The most expensive race for state office has surpassed $300,000 in the Tulsa rematch for House District 71 between Republican Katie Henke and Democrat Dan Arthrell.
When the two candidates met last in a special election, fewer than four votes separated them. After an inconclusive recount and newly discovered ballots, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled there was no winner in the race.
Henke leads the fundraising efforts with $161,000, and Arthrell has raised $142,000. Both candidates also carried over about $32,000 each from their special election campaigns that essentially ended in a tie.
The second-most expensive campaign is for House District 22 in southern Oklahoma, including the cities of Sulphur and Atoka.
Charles McCall, a Republican, has raised $179,000, which is the third-highest amount in the state. Doris Row, a Democrat, has raised $88,000. There is no incumbent in the race.
Both Pinnell and Robertson said the House and Senate races in southeastern Oklahoma have become a focal point for their political parties.
Voters in southeast Oklahoma, however, are predominately registered Democrats, so Republicans are working uphill to win the contested seats.
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Dataset - 2012 Campaign Contributions
CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE - Campaign contribution filings for 2012 Oklahoma campaigns. Data was compiled from information provided by the Oklahoma Ethic Commission. Reports include a full list of contributors, top campaigns, and top contributors as well as break downs by party.