Campaign spending for House race expected to break records

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(Host) Campaign spending in this year’s U.S. House race in Vermont is expected to break all existing records for this office.

That means the candidates will have to rely more heavily on money from PAC groups and the national political parties.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) There was a time when campaigns for federal office in Vermont were much less expensive than in many other states – but not any more.

This year there are open seats for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House and the result is that most candidates running for these offices are preparing to spend a lot of money.

In the U.S. House contest, Democrat Peter Welch has raised more than $738,000. About a third of it was raised in the first 3 months of this year.

Republican Martha Rainville raised slightly less than Welch over the last 3 months and trails him in overall fundraising because she joined the race at a later date.

One of Rainville’s Republican primary opponents, Bennington Senator Mark Shepard, raised slightly more than $37,000 in the first 3 months of this year.

Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis thinks the leading candidates will need to raise between $1.5 and $2 million to win this race.

Davis says most of the money will be spent buying media time because these candidates aren’t very well known to many voters.

(Davis) “So one of the things candidates need to do with this money is simply get their face and something about their background and their issue positions in front of the voters primarily through television and radio ads.”

Davis says the next 3 months will be critical for Martha Rainville because she needs to close the gap with Peter Welch – she trails him by roughly $400,000.

(Davis) “In order to close the gap she’ll look to Washington and contributions from political party and political action committee groups in D.C.”

Davis says Republican Mark Shepard also faces fundraising challenges in the next 3 months if he wants to be seen as a credible challenger to Rainville.

(Davis) “The needs to have enough money top advertise in the 4 to 6 weeks before the primary which means from August 1st on so I would say if he hasn’t raised $100,000 by the end of June his campaign is going to be in great difficulty.”

A third GOP candidate in this race, former Burlington restaurant owner Dennis Morriseau, hasn’t reached the spending threshold to file reports with federal election officials.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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