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.
“Those are good opportunities that we see,” Pinnell said. “They are great pickup opportunities for us. Charles McCall has been very involved in the community there for years, and is a good fundraiser.”
The campaign for Senate District 7 in McAlester has raised $158,000. Republican candidate Larry Boggs raised $114,000 of campaign funds raised in the district. J. Paul Lane, the Democrat in the race, has raised $44,000.
In Adair County, candidates for Senate District 3 have raised $182,000.
District 13 Sen. Susan Paddack, D-Ada, has raised more than $211,000 this election cycle, more than any other candidate for legislative office. That does not include donations of less than $50 or the $147,000 she carried over from other campaigns, including her unsuccessful 2010 bid for state schools superintendent.
Paddack's opponent is Fred Smith, who spent time in Pontotoc County jail in July for failing to pay child support and other fines. Smith, a Republican, has raised roughly $1,600.
“At that time, when she was raising her resources, she didn't necessarily know about the troubles or the troubled past of her opponent. She was just focusing on the race and the task at hand,” Robertson said. “She's not only a great senator, but she's a prolific fundraiser.”
District 41 Sen. Clark Jolley raised $182,000, the second-highest amount. But adding the $217,000 Jolley raised in 2010, then transferred to his new campaign fund, moves him to the top position.
His opponent in the primary was tea party conservative Paul Blair, who lost by about 1,000 votes. However, his general election opponent Richard Prawdzienski, an independent, filed an affidavit of minimal activity and has spent little to nothing on his campaign.
Third on the list is Rob Standridge, a Norman Republican vying for the Senate District 15 seat. Standridge has raised $147,000, including a $21,000 personal loan, and a number of donations from pharmacists and pharmaceutical political action committees.
His opponent Claudia Griffith, a Democrat, has raised $59,000.
Most of the money poured into the 93 candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot for legislative offices come from individuals who contributed a total of $2.8 million.
Political action committees gave another almost $2 million, while businesses and tribes account for roughly $400,000 in donations.
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.