WSW: Early Indicators Of An Expensive Race For Congress In Southwest Michigan

Jun 11, 2018

Credit Tom Arthur/Wikicommons

Michigan Campaign Finance Network Director Craig Mauger says not much is known about two groups running issue ads in Southwest Michigan’s 6th Congressional District. But he says it shows early interest in the race.


Michigan Families for Economic Prosperity is the sponsor of the ads that criticize Congressman Fred Upton for his vote on taxes and health care. Mauger says they seem to work with progressive groups. American Future Fund has run ads praising Upton for protecting Internet privacy. Mauger says the group based in Iowa, and has taken money from groups connected to Koch family. He says American Future Fund has been active in races across the country, but he says not often in Michigan.

Mauger says the ads targeting Upton are early indicators of what could be a very competitive race. He says ads coming from both sides show that some interest groups want to get an early start. Mauger says a lot more money could be spent later, depending on how competitive the race appears. Upton is seeking his 17th term in the House. Democrats George Franklin, David Benac, Matt Longjohn and Rich Eichholz are on the primary ballot. Paul Clements, the Democrat who challenged Upton in 2014 and 2016 is suing for a spot on the August ballot. The state ruled that Clements was nine short of the 1,000 valid signatures needed to qualify.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network finds a total of $4-million spent on political advertising so far this year in Michigan. Mauger says that only includes broadcast television ads, not cable or Internet advertising. Mauger says most of the money is being spent on the governor’s race and the campaign for U.S. Seante. He says a lot of the money is coming from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar and Republican Senate candidate Sandy Penslar. Both men are contributing large amounts of their own money to their campaigns.

Mauger says Political Action Committees are raising more money than they ever have at this point in the election cycle. He says it shows the high stakes of statewide offices, a U.S. Senate seat, Congress and all 148 seats in the state Legislature being on the ballot. Mauger says right now Republicans have a big fundraising advantage over their Democratic counterparts for the PACs that will help fund races for state House and Senate.

One proposal will definitely appear on the statewide ballot in November. The initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana will be decided by voters because the Legislature did not act on the voter initiated law before last week’s deadline. Mauger says the question of legalizing marijuana will likely to attract a lot of money on both sides. Other proposals could also be approved for the ballot. Mauger says some of those, including one that would change Michigan’s process of drawing legislative districts would also be very expensive.

The question of whether the redistricting proposal put forth by Voters Not Politicians will get on the ballot is headed to the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Campaign Finance Network in collaboration with Bridge examines how interested parties have contributed to the campaigns of justices on the Michigan Supreme Court.