House Candidates Ramp up Spending Ahead of 2010 Election

Cantor, Rangel, and Boehner top the list of incumbents.

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There are now fewer than 100 days left until Election Day 2010, and many congressional candidates are ramping up their spending in a fight that some think could end in a Republican takeover of the House. The newest data shows that Republicans are the biggest spenders among challengers, as they attempt to defeat newer Democratic House members, while the biggest-spending incumbents are spending to maintain their seats and are giving money to their national party committees, as well as fellow party members.

The three incumbents who have spent the most on their campaigns this cycle are all prominent: Republican Whip Eric Cantor, former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, and House Minority Leader John Boehner. As well-known party leaders, Cantor and Boehner have the ability to amass and spend large campaign funds though they are not threatened in their races. Rangel, however, may be forced to ramp up his spending if he seeks reelection. He is currently facing 13 ethics charges in the House, and some are calling for his resignation. [See a slide show of 10 Reasons Rangel Is in Trouble.]

In addition to spending money on their own campaigns, these top-spending incumbents have also given significant amounts money to national party committees or other candidates. Disbursement data shows that Boehner's campaign, for example, has given over $600,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, in addition to contributions to other Republican candidates. [See who gives the most to Boehner.]

Cantor, likewise, has given over $80,000 to the NRCC, and Rangel has given over $135,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The FEC allows a federal candidate to make unlimited transfers of funds to national party committees, as well as contributions of up to $2,000 per election to the committees of other federal candidates. [See which industries give the most to Cantor.]

Also among the top five incumbent spenders are South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson and New York Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy. However, many of Murphy's disbursements in this election cycle were made in the run-up to his victory in the March 2009 special election. Murphy only officially kicked off his reelection campaign on July 25.

INCUMBENTS

Name State District Party Net Operating Expenditures*
Eric Cantor VA 7 R $3,345,134
Charles Rangel NY 15 D $2,717,140
John Boehner OH 8 R $2,676,728
Scott Murphy NY 20 D $2,494,686
Joe Wilson SC 2 R $2,225,178

*Operating expenditures do not include candidate transfers to party committees or federal candidates.

There are a few notable similarities among the five highest-spending challengers: all are Republicans, all are facing incumbents who have been in office for fewer than four years, and all have outspent the incumbents they hope to unseat. New York Republican candidate Doug Hoffman is the top spender among challengers, competing in what is sure to be a tough race for New York's 23rd District. Hoffman is challenging Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, who defeated Hoffman in a November 2009 special election in which Hoffman ran as a member of the Conservative Party. Pennsylvania's Tim Burns is also running against a familiar opponent: Mark Critz, who defeated him in the May 2010 special election for the seat vacated after the death of Rep. John Murtha.

CHALLENGERS

Name State District Party Operating Expenses Incumbent Opponent 
Doug Hoffman NY 23 R 1,702,865 Bill Owens
Tim Burns PA 12 R 1,500,052 Mark Critz
Scott Rigell VA 2 R 1,427,194 Glenn Nye
David Jeffrey Harmer CA 11 R 1,391,404 Jerry McNerney
Allen West FL 22 R 1,318,648 Ron Klein