It’s likely many readers had the same thought cross their mind when they read the headline in The Union last week stating Heidi Hall had announced her 2016 run for Congress.
At least Hall, a Grass Valley resident, waited a few weeks to kick off her campaign. Less than 24 hours after President Obama was declared the winner of a second term, cable news shows were already sizing up a “dream matchup” of Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton in 2016.
While the TV pundits pressed on to the next election in order to simply have something to talk about after Election Day, Hall said she had to turn the page toward 2016 in order to ensure she’d have a legitimate shot at actually contending for a congressional seat.
“Money in politics has changed the entire game,” Hall told The Union Staff Writer Matthew Renda. “If you want to have enough money to do a thorough job (of running a campaign), you need to start early … So my assessment was I needed to get my name out there, my voice out there and my issues out there.”
Considering the kind of campaign cash her opponent — yet-to-be-sworn-in incumbent Doug LaMalfa — had at hand in his campaign for Wally Herger’s seat in 2012, it’s easy to understand Hall’s assessment.
According to the Federal Election Commission, through Oct. 17, LaMalfa had spent about $618,000 to win the District 1 seat. Of the $803,000 he raised, $287,000 (more than one-third) came from political action committees — or PACs. In terms of campaign finance, the former Republican state senator easily out-raised his opponent in the general election, Democrat Jim Reed, who spent about $160,000 of the $167,000 he’d raised in the same span. Reed’s PAC contributions amounted to $7,250 or about 4 percent of his total campaign funding.
In fact, according to the FEC, LaMalfa’s closest competitor in terms of fundraising was Grass Valley’s Sam Aanestad, our former state senator who squared off with LaMalfa in June’s primary. Although, it should be noted that of the $269,000 Aanestad had raised in the primary, $180,000 was in his own personal loans to the campaign.
Of course, even LaMalfa’s seemingly largesse 2012 fundraising pales in comparison with other congressional campaigns across the country and in California, where nearly $129 million was spent in House of Representatives races. In the 30th District alone, where a pair of Democratic incumbents squared off in the general election, FEC reports show through October that Howard Berman and Brad Sherman had spent about $5 million — each — in the bid to represent the greater Los Angeles area.
Nationwide, the FEC shows $1.05 billion was raised and $926 million spent on House races through mid-October. Rough estimates on the 2012 election in total have in excess of $6 billion spent by candidates — nearly $1.5 billion between the two presidential campaigns alone — most of whom, ironically enough, professed to be focused on finding a way to help the middle class or Americans most in need.
Wouldn’t it be something to put our money where their mouths were, as opposed to their campaign coffers?
So now that we’re officially onto Election 2016, don’t blame Heidi Hall, or soon-to-be-sworn-in Congressman Doug LaMalfa, for the kind of perpetual campaigning we face these days.
We, as a nation, through the representatives we elect, have created that.
But hopefully, at some point, the people we do elect can find enough time off the infinite campaign trail to actually address the issues on which they have run.
To contact Managing Editor Brian Hamilton, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4249.
Wouldn’t it be something to put our money where their mouths were, as opposed to their campaign coffers.