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                                                               May 24, 2017
Illinois 2018 Gubernatorial Election Could
Be the Most Expensive in U.S. History
Last week, Ken Griffin donated $20 million to Governor Bruce Rauner's re-election campaign, marking the second highest political contribution in Illinois' history. His contribution is second only to Rauner's $50 million contribution to his own campaign in December of 2016. With over $81 million raised by candidates, the race for Illinois Governor has already seen enough money to exceed the cost of of an average gubernatorial election - with over 19 months until Election Day in November 2018.

To put Illinois' campaign contributions in a national context, the ICPR research team compiled spending data on gubernatorial races in highly populated states.
Gubernatorial Races in Illinois
On ICPR's Illinois Sunshine, total contribution figures for each gubernatorial candidate are updated daily, and are freely available to the public. The total funds raised by all candidates in the 2018 race for Governor of Illinois currently tops $81 million. This figure includes a $50 million contribution from Governor Rauner to his own committee, as well as last week's $20 million contribution from Ken Griffin. 
Funds Raised by 2018 Illinois Gubernatorial Candidates
As of May 22, 2017
For active races, ICPR uses contribution data to calculate the total funds raised in the race, as that data is much more consistently available throughout an election cycle. For past races, expenditures, not contributions, are used to calculate the total cost of a race, to ensure that any money left over in a candidate's committee is not included.

Illinois' most expensive gubernatorial race was in 2014, when Primary and General Election candidates spent nearly $112 million. Governor Pat Quinn spent $31 million in the election, Governor Rauner (then-challenger) spent about $65 million, and nearly $12 million was spent by outside groups. Comparatively, Illinois' 2010 gubernatorial election cost about $58 million.
Funds Spent in the 2014 Race for Illinois Governor
Most Expensive Gubernatorial Races in U.S. History
#1: California's 2010 gubernatorial race currently holds the title as the nation's most expensive. Former eBay executive Meg Whitman self-funded her campaign to the tune of $144 million, which made up the majority of her total expenditures of $178 million. In contrast, Jerry Brown, her General Election opponent, spent $36 million. All told, the race cost about $280 million. However, at this point in the 2010 California race, candidates had only raised about $17 million.

#2: The second most expensive gubernatorial election in the U.S. was in New York in 2002, which cost about $147 million. Independent candidate Tom Golisano led spending with $75 million, while the winner of that race, George Pataki, spent $45 million. A major third party candidate and primary challengers spent about $25 million.

#3*: Florida's 2014 gubernatorial race set a state record for total spending, estimated at about $115 million. Candidates spent $22 million, with Charlie Crist spending about $11 million, and Governor Rick Scott spending $10 million. This race broke state records, however, because of an unprecedented amount of independent expenditures made by non-candidate groups. Political parties and outside groups spent at least $92 million to either support or oppose the candidates through TV ads, according to the Center for Public Integrity. 

*Author's note: The Florida division of Elections does not have complete data on independent spending in this race. Numbers were compiled using data from the Center for Public Integrity, but have been reported as even higher by some news outlets. The most expensive races listed for Texas and Ohio are according to the Houston Chronicle and the Dayton Daily News, respectively.
How You Can Fight the Rising Cost of Illinois Elections
SB 1424, which would establish a Small Donor Matching System in Illinois, has a committee hearing today in the Illinois House of Representatives at 10:30am.

You can show you support by clicking here and filing a witness slip in favor of this bill!

A Small Donor Matching System will use a small amount of public funds to match grassroots, local donations to candidates for office in Illinois. For more information, click here.
Although many of the most expensive gubernatorial elections have occurred recently—either in 2010 or 2014—spending has since gone down in some states, including California and New York. In the top two most expensive races in the nation, fundraising was driven by self-funding candidates Meg Whitman of California and Tom Golisano of New York. Non-candidate groups who spend money through independent expenditures have also been major players in some of those races. 

Recent trends in Illinois shows that the state's gubernatorial campaigns are becoming increasingly expensive. Illinois faces the possibility of having two self-funded candidates running for governor in 2018, which could result in a historically expensive race. With over $81 million in the race so far, and a year and a half to go until the General Election in 2018, this could be the costliest gubernatorial election in U.S. history—surpassing California's record of $280 million in 2010.
Research contributed by Political Data Director Colin Williams, Policy & Communications Coordinator Sara Birchler and Emily Melbye, Research & Data Analyst Jessica Ditmars, and Data & Policy Analyst Clare Fisher.

Copyright © 2017 Reform for Illinois, All rights reserved.

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