What does it cost to run for office in Rhode Island? That’s one of the questions that will be raised at a campaign school for new candidates scheduled for this Saturday. In the General Assembly, this summary of what every candidate raised and spent during the 2006 elections offers a good idea of what kind of fundraising is involved. Minus the leadership, the average House member raised $12,160 in 2006 and spent $15,366 to win. In the Senate (again, less the leadership), the average winner raised $19,621 during the election year and spent $24,090.
Not surprisingly, winning is a little more expensive for newcomers. The four Senate first-termers spent $29,000, $39,000, $40,000 and $50,000 respectively to win. Of the eight House first time winners, four spent between $20-$25,000 and two spent about $10,000. Another, who had held a different office before, spent $8,700. Finally, a first-timer with no opponent spent only $1,265.
Every candidate will tell you that fundraising is the most onerous part of the job. But the numbers – particularly in the state Senate – show that it’s a must, if you’re serious about winning.