WASHINGTON — Arizona candidates — and their allies and opponents — spent more than $43.5 million on Tuesday’s primary election, a “staggering” amount for the state, according to one political expert.
“It’s a lot of money,” said longtime Arizona pollster Bruce Merrill. “Keep in mind, Arizona is a relatively small state.”
More than half the total, $23.65 million, went for statewide races, according to the most recent campaign finance reports, with spending driven by a bitter six-way contest for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
The number is likely higher, as the last state and federal spending reports were filed several days to several weeks before Tuesday’s primary. And experts expect millions more to be spent in the 10 weeks between now and the Nov. 4 general election, which features several high-profile congressional races in addition to state offices.
In races for statewide office, like governor and state treasurer, the candidates and independent expenditure committees spent a total of $23.65 million as of Friday, according to reports from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office. A total of $7.15 million was spent on primary election campaigns for the Legislature, the reports showed.
Spending in the state’s nine congressional districts totaled $12.7 million, according to Federal Election Commission reports from earlier this month.
Merrill and other pros pointed to several factors that drove this year’s primary spending, including the gubernatorial primary as well as a flood of cash from sources independent of the candidates themselves.
“The gubernatorial race is the one that’s breaking the bank,” said KTAR political analyst Mike O’Neil.
The preprimary campaign filings show the major GOP gubernatorial candidates and their allies spent more than $15.2 million reaching out to voters.
Tucson Republican pollster Margaret Kenski said she was not surprised by the spending but she is troubled by the amount of money that came from independent expenditure committees.
“People do tell lies,” she said. “What bothers me is not knowing the sources. I don’t see how that advances democracy.”
Arizona’s 2014 primary election has been awash in cash from so-called “dark money” groups that are not required to disclose their donors. Kenski said the state’s relatively strict reporting requirements for candidates, ends up empowering outside groups.
Of the money spent on statewide races, $6.6 million came from such independent expenditure committees, while those outside groups spent slightly more than $2.3 million to aid legislative hopefuls and hammer opponents.
On the federal level, independent groups spent $1.57 million on Arizona’s congressional primaries, according to the FEC.
In the hotly contested Democratic primary for south Phoenix’s 7th District congressional seat, state Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, reported on Aug. 6 that he had spent $486,502 in his successful campaign against former Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. She reported spending more than $427,000. Independent committees also reported spending $246,000 in support of Gallego’s candidacy.
And in eastern Arizona, outgoing state House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, spent close to $520,000 and rancher Gary Kiehne spent just over $600,000 in a race for the GOP nomination in the 1st District. As of Wednesday, however, the race was still too close to call.
The winner will face Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Flagstaff, who announced Wednesday that she has already committed $1.75 million for television ads in the general election.
Merrill predicted total Arizona election-year spending could reach $60 million by the time general election spending is tabulated.
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon