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Campaign Costs Are Skyrocketing Out of Control:

The average person is being priced out of elections in Southeast.

The rise in campaign costs for state races in the South, where elections and voting rights have been most difficult to achieve historically, are escalating at such an enormous rate that most people can't even consider running for elected office. In 1998, campaign contributions to state races in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia totaled nearly a quarter of a billion dollars ($245,712,859). Campaign costs for these "citizen legislatures," where many people gain much needed experience in order to run for higher office, are beyond the means of most citizens. The campaign system is awash in money and forces candidates into a vicious fundraising cycle. This constant fundraising alienates voters - who are cynical about elected officials taking money from the industries they regulate and from a small, elite circle of wealthy donors.

Breakdown of Contributions By State*:

State (1998) Total Contributions for State Politics (non-federal)
Alabama $54,124,101
Florida $56,557,811
Georgia $71,308,589
Kentucky $6,308,802
North Carolina $17,055,735
South Carolina $18,810,388
Tennessee $15,196,116
West Virginia $6,351,317

According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, Tennessee legislative candidates raised more than $13 million in the 2000 election. Winning candidates in the Tennessee Senate raised, on average, $272,801, while their general election opponents raised just 48 percent of that amount - $130,158, on average. Losing candidates in the Senate primary election raised just $13,846.

In Kentucky, the average amount raised by House candidates increased from $17,283 in 1998 to $22,870 in 2000, a 33 percent jump. The average raised by Kentucky's Senate candidates more than doubled between 1998 and 2000, from $51,822 to $107,602.

In North Carolina the cost for winning a seat in the state senate went from $25,800 in 1994 to $134,500 in the 2000 election. While the cost of running for the state legislature skyrocketed between 1994-2000, the number of candidates running for office in North plummeted by 44. Sadly, more and more people are opting not to run for public office because of the daunting money chase.

Print out a graph on the Skyrocketing Costs of Elections in North Carolina.

*The National Institute on Money in State Politics compiled much of this data.



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