WSW: Early Signs Of An Expensive Battle For The Michigan House

Jun 5, 2016

State Capitol - file photo
Credit Melissa Benmark / WKAR

Fundraising by Political Action Committees in Michigan is on a record-setting pace for a Presidential election year. That could mean very expensive races for state House this fall. 


The Michigan Campaign Finance Network examined reports through April 20th. Director Craig Mauger says the second quarter filings showed the top 150 PACs in Michigan raised $26-million, a 17% increase over 2012. 

"The expectation around Lansing from people that I talk to is that this will be an expensive battle for the state House"

$32-million had been raised by state PACs at this point in 2014. But Mauger says the dynamics of elections are different in so-called “off year.” In 2014 races for governor and other statewide offices drew lots of money from outside of Michigan.

This year Mauger says the money raised by PACs in Michigan will primarily be spent on state House races. He says

“the expectation around Lansing from people that I talk to is that this will be an expensive battle for the state House… the majority of the chamber is very much in play.”

Mauger says there is an expectation that Democrats will pick up seats, but it’s not clear if they will pick up the nine needed to take control of the state House.

While PACs are busy raising money, some state lawmakers are trying to put more limits on how much they can contribute to candidate committees. Legislation was introduced last month with a bi-partisan list of co-sponsors, including Kalamazoo Democrat Jon Hoadley. It would cut in half the amount that PACs can give to candidates. Right now PAC’s can give ten times the amount that individual contributors can give. Mauger says it’s an interesting proposal, but it’s not likely to get much traction in the Legislature.

Mauger says there aren’t many things that would unite all of the interest groups in Lansing, but he says this could be one bill they can all agree to oppose. Mauger says there hasn’t been any major effort to Lansing to address campaign finance issues so “it looks like an uphill battle.”