Campaigns for Oregon Legislature are Most Expensive in America (except for New Jersey)

Oregon's expensive legislative campaigns
By Jeff Mapes, The Oregonian
April 06, 2010

The National Institute on Money in State Politics has a new report confirming what I've heard several times before: Oregon has among the most expensive legislative races in the country.

The non-partisan group issued a new report on the 2008 elections around the country, where fundraising for the first time topped $1 billion for legislative races. Oregon legislative candidates raised an average of nearly $250,000 - almost three times the national average of about $87,000.

Even that figure is deceptively low. Oregon didn't have any real competitive Senate races in 2008, so races in that chamber were unusually inexpensive that year.

If you just look at the House races, candidates in Oregon overall raised more than their counterparts in all but six much larger states: California, Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and Virginia.

When you figure the cost of a House campaign per resident, Oregon is second in the nation. Here's my back-of-the-envelope calculations based on the report:

1. New Jersey.....$4.41 per resident
2. Oregon...........$4.16 per resident
3. Virginia...........$4.00 per resident
4. Illinois.............$3.06 per resident
5. Nevada...........$2.97 per resident
6. Ohio...............$2.88 per resident

It's no mystery why Oregon legislative campaigns are so much more expensive than most states. Oregon is one of just six states with no limits on contributions - and no limits on direct corporate and union giving to campaigns.

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