Tom Kacich: Money almost as close as the vote in 13th District

Post-election fundraising totals for 13th Congressional District candidates Rodney Davis and David Gill were almost as close as the election results, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Republican Davis defeated Gill by 1,002 votes out of the 294,385 cast, or 46.5 percent to 46.2 percent.

And, as of Nov. 26, Davis had net contributions of $1.33 million to $1.3 million for Gill. Both candidates also reported some campaign debt ($98,021 for Davis and $10,081 for Gill) and a small amount of cash on hand ($2,278 for Davis and $6,038 for Gill).

Those candidate fundraising totals don't tell the real campaign spending story in the 13th District race, however.

The big money in the race came from 20 independent groups, not formally affiliated with either campaign, that poured $6.89 million into the race, most of it benefiting Davis, although the biggest spender was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that spent $3 million on negative ads against Davis.

Overall spending on the 13th District race, including the independent groups, and the campaigns of Davis, Gill and independent candidate John Hartman, now totals $9.53 million.

By comparison, total spending in the 2010 race between Gill and retiring U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, in the old, heavily Republican 15th Congressional District, totalled $487,165.

Davis' campaign, according to the website Opensecrets.org, got 54 percent of its funds from individual donors and 45 percent from political action committees. More than 90 percent of his contributions came from Illinois, including $96,700 from the Chicago area, $83,196 from the Springfield area and $40,266 from metro St. Louis. Davis got $40,263 from the Decatur area and $37,608 from Champaign-Urbana. His top ZIP code for contributions, however, was his hometown of Taylorville ($61,812).

During the period Oct. 18 to Nov. 26, Davis got nearly $135,000 in PAC contributions and $79,697 from individuals.

His big PAC donors during the period included: Capital One, Chesapeake Energy, Ernst & Young, the American Council of Engineering Companies and Alliance Coal LLC, each $5,000; the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, $3,500; the National Mining Association and Home Depot, each $3,000.

Also, the Altria Group (formerly Philip Morris), the Freedom PAC (affiliated with Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga.), the International Warehouse Logistics Association, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, Many Individual Conservatives Helping Elect Leaders Everywhere (affiliated with Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.), the National Association of Health Underwriters, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the National Restaurant Association, the New Pioneers (affiliated with Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.), the Wendy's Co., and the United Services Automobile Assn., each $2,500.

Gill got 77 percent of his campaign money from individual donors and 22 percent from PACs. Two-thirds of his contributions came from within Illinois. His fundraising base — by far — was Champaign-Urbana, from which he got $118,705 (including $54,314 from the 61801 Zip Code in Urbana). Gill also got $91,008 from the Chicago area, $27,994 from Bloomington-Normal (where he lives), $27,719 from Springfield and $16,486 from St. Louis.

During the Oct. 18 to Nov. 26 period, Gill got $158,799 from individuals and $102,322 from PACs.

Gill's big PAC contributors just before the election included: Building Relationships in Diverse Geographic Environments (affiliated with U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.), the National Association of Letter Carriers, the DRIVE Committee (affiliated with the Teamsters Union), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, the Midwest Region Laborers, each $5,000; the Sierra Club, $4,500; and MoveOn.org, $3,500.

A centerpiece of Gill's campaign was that he would not "accept a penny from Wall Street banking interests or corporate PACs." But he did indirectly as, for example, Clyburn's PAC received contributions from Goldman Sachs, the American Bankers Assn., Microsoft, Pfizer, and JPMorgan Chase.

PACs that gave $2,500 to the Gill campaign during the period included: the American Nurses Assn., the National Treasury Employees Union, the Progressives United, the Service Employees International Union, the National Education Assn., United Auto Worker Region 4 in Detroit, and the United Mine Workers.

Davis getting settled in D.C. Davis, who will be sworn in to his 13th Congressional District seat on Jan. 3, finally has an office in Washington.

His Capitol Hill office will be at 1740 Longworth, the same House office building where retiring U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, has had his office.

More importantly, Davis has been appointed to both the agriculture and the transportation and infrastructure committees, coincidentally the same committees on which Johnson sits. Those were among the three committees (also including education) that Davis said he wanted to serve on.

By the way, here's how Washington journalists will view Davis for a while, courtesy of this brief biography published in The Hill, a Washington-based publication that focuses on government and politics:

"Rodney Davis defeated Democrat David Gill to retain the GOP's seat in Illinois's 13th congressional district, which was up for grabs when Rep. Timothy Johnson (R) decided against running for re-election. Johnson decided to retire after the GOP primary, so party leaders picked the Republican nominee.

"They selected Davis, a former projects director for long-serving Rep. John Shimkus (R) of Illinois's 19th congressional district, over two dozen other interested parties, partly because they believed he would be able to fundraise quickly. He also had experience as acting executive director of the Illinois Republican Party, where he managed the party's finances and paid off $300,000 in debt that the party owed. In addition, Davis secured support from Shimkus, who did not seek re-election."

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at kacich@news-gazette.com.

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