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2008 Election Costs Headed Toward Forecasted $1 Billion

March 1, 2008
By WAYNE SHEETS, Contributing Business Writer
Campaigning for this year’s primary and general election began, as we are so acutely aware, barely a few weeks after the mid-term elections of 2006 were over. At that time, political pundits forecast that costs for the presidential election of 2008 would reach and possibly surpass the $1 billion mark. It’s beginning to look like that unprecedented benchmark will be reached, if not surpassed.

According to the latest statistics published by the Federal Elections Commission, total expenditures have reached $691.5 million, and we still have eight months to go. This figure includes money spent by those who have fallen by the way side.

Here are some numbers for the three candidates still in the race:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., has received $138,048,906 since she began her campaign. From Feb. 5, 2007, through Feb. 3, 2008, she received $99,133,232 — $5 million of that from herself. Individuals have contributed $117.3 million and PACs have given her campaign more than $1.04 million. She has spent more than $108.8 million and has $29,186,342 million in her war chest.

West Virginia residents have donated $295,249 to her campaign — $89,829 came from the northern half of the state, and $205,420 was donated by supporters in the southern half of the state. News media on Thursday morning said that her campaign fundraisers raked in $35 million last month alone. That should boost her war chest considerably.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., whose popularity seems to be on a meteoric rise, is slightly ahead of Clinton, but not by much. He has garnered a total of $114,576,914 since beginning his campaign. From Feb. 5, 2007, through Feb. 3, 2008, his fundraisers brought in $99,772,643. He has contributed nothing from himself nor has he received anything from the Democratic Party. Political Action Committees have given him a total of $25. Yes, that’s right, $25. Obama has spent $115,636,752 and has a war chest of $24,940,160.

West Virginia residents have donated a total of $67,743 — $21,000 from the northern half of the state and $46,743 from the southern half. CNN Headline News reported Thursday morning that he raised $50 million last month. Could these numbers be a precursor of what we can expect from the election? Where’s Nostradamus when we need him?

Arizona’s favorite son, Republican Sen. John McCain, has established himself as his party’s sole candidate for the presidency, and he’s done it on far less money — nearly two-thirds less in fact. Having nearly had to drop out of the race earlier for both a lack of money and popularity, he has experienced a Phoenix-like rise, in popularity. The party’s conservative right is still struggling with some of his philosophies, but he will moderate those, and being the good Republicans they are — that’s not to say that Democrats are bad, mind you — will fall in line at the appropriate time.

Sen. McCain has received a total of $54,848,606 during his campaign. From Feb. 5, 2007, through Feb. 3, 2008, he received the paltry sum of just $38,298,129. All of his money has come from individual contributions except for $2,500 from the Republican Party and $579,424 from PACs. He has spent $49,650,185 and has $5,198,422 on hand.

West Virginians have given him $24,656, with $7,318 coming from the northern half of West Virginia and $17,338 from the southern half of the state. As of this writing, McCain had not yet reported last month’s numbers to the election commission.

Compare these numbers with the $300,000 that Abraham Lincoln spent on his campaign in 1859. I have asked several people in the financial world what $300,000 in Lincoln’s day would be worth today and no one has been able to make the conversion for me. If anyone out there knows how it’s done, please give me a call and let me know.

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Monday’s attendees at the weekly Rotary meeting heard Rotarian Becky Poe give a summation of the Randolph County Senior Center. Apparently, when they began raising money for the center, fundraisers sold local residents space in the building. Poe told us that more than 4,000 people own at least one square foot of the building. According to Poe, when the new center at the corner of Fifth Street and Railroad Avenue opened in December 1982, it was the largest Senior Center in West Virginia. The county’s first center was located in the old Memorial General Hospital and opened in March 1968. A 40th anniversary celebration is planned for Wednesday.

Dr. Sandra Vanin, commissioner of the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services, will attend the celebration. There will be a short program at 11:30 a.m. before lunch. The center boasts a membership of 4,873 and has a staff of 111. Randolph County also has senior center/nutrition sites in Harman and Mill Creek. I hope I got all the numbers right because I’ll have to face Becky on Monday morning.

If you’re older than age 50 and looking for a place to spend a few hours a week shooting pool, playing cards, visiting with friends or just relaxing, the senior center seems to be a great place to do it. Poe said the place “buzzes with activity in the afternoons — more so than most I’ve seen.”

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Here’s an enviable milestone for one of our Rotarians, Roy Stalnaker and his wife, Margaret. They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary today from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church. Congratulations to both of you. May you have many more celebrations in the coming years.

 
 
 

 

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