And the two are spending their money on traditional campaign activities, according to an analysis of their campaign expenses through Sept. 30. For both, advertising — on the air and through the mail — has been a dominant expense.
Mullin, who is running his first political race, has spent far more than Wallace on outside consultants, both for strategy and fundraising help. Wallace’s campaign has devoted much more money than Mullin to payroll.
The winner of the hotly contested race may someday be in the same situation as Lucas — as a popular incumbent who doesn’t draw strong opponents.
Lucas has held his seat since 1994 and has typically coasted to re-election while raising far less money than the average House seat winner. His Democratic opponent this year, Tim Murray, has reported raising $374.
But since becoming, first, the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, and, last year, the chairman, Lucas has had more responsibility for helping other Republican candidates. He told The Oklahoman last year that his increased activity on the fundraising circuit was attributable to his leadership position.
For most of the past two years, his House campaign functioned as a national fundraising machine: It spent nearly $200,000 just on fundraising consultants and food. And through Sept. 30, Lucas had given $580,000 to GOP causes, primarily the National Republican Congressional Committee.
That changed this month, as Lucas dropped more than $200,000 on broadcast and newspaper ads about himself.
Lucas is certainly not the only House leader who has become a fundraiser for party candidates; he’s just one of many.
In fact, House Speaker John Boehner, who doesn’t even have a Democratic opponent, had spent $20 million in campaign funds through Sept. 30 — more than any other House candidate — with about $12 million going to Republican campaign organizations and candidates.