Wealthy candidates pour millions into 2022 campaigns
In Ohio alone, four self-funded candidates have already combined to contribute nearly $30 million to their U.S. Senate campaigns.
Bernie Moreno, a car dealer turned technical director, loaned his campaign about $3.75 million before he suspended his offer this month. And former GOP chairwoman Jane Timken, whose family owns a Canton-based steel company, loaned her campaign about $3.5 million.
And Ohio isn’t the only state where self-funded candidates are influencing major Senate primaries.
Self-financing in 2022 is not a strictly partisan phenomenon. In Wisconsin, Democratic Senate hopeful Alex Lasry, whose family owns the Milwaukee Bucks NBA franchise, loaned his campaign nearly $2.4 million. State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, who is also seeking the green light from the Wisconsin Democratic Senate, has invested nearly $1.8 million in her bid.
The ability to pour millions directly into one’s own campaign is a significant advantage for these self-funded candidates. Candidates’ campaigns enjoy preferential television advertising rates over outside groups like super PACs, which means the money goes further when it comes from a campaign than an outside group.
“While money doesn’t buy results, it certainly buys ads, and the primary consumer of those ads doesn’t know who is paying for the ad,” said Sarah Bryner, strategist at watchdog group OpenSecrets.
The proliferation of self-financiers can hurt lesser-known candidates who aren’t independently wealthy, Bryner added. While these self-financiers may not win their respective contests, they can blunt the momentum of their rivals early on by crowding out the field.
“I use my own money. I don’t use lobbyists. I don’t use donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich,” the former president said when he announced his candidacy for the White House. Trump ultimately contributed or loaned more than $66 million to his 2016 campaign, but contributed nothing to his 2020 re-election coffers.
Some resounding failures
“They come in. They make a splash, buy a lot of publicity. It’s all paid for with their own money. And that doesn’t really change the needle with the polls,” Bryner said.
Whether self-financiers win or lose, their ability to pump money into elections can have detrimental effects on less wealthy candidates – crowding out candidates, increasing advertising costs and raising the barrier to entry for those who lack millions of dollars to spend on politics. .
“Our small donors across the state more than make up for the fact that I can’t afford to self-fund this race,” he said.