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Michigan governor's race on pace to break spending record

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

New campaign finance reportssuggest this year’s governor’s race may end up being the most expensive in Michigan history.

The August primary will select the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian party nominees for governor.

As of Friday, the seven Republican and Democratic candidates have raised more than $30 million. By comparison, in 2010, which was the last time there were competitive races in both the major party primaries, candidates raised less than $20 million leading up to the party primaries.

Democrat Shri Thanedar has invested millions of his own money to his campaign. Fellow Democrats Gretchen Whitmer and Dr. Abdul El-Sayedhave raised more than $10 million combined.  

On the Republican side, Attorney General Bill Schuette has raised $5 million. Lt. Gov. Brian Calleyand Dr. Jim Hines have each raised around $3 million dollars. State Sen. Patrick Colbeckhas raised less than a million dollars.

Added to that, outside groups have spent an additional $9 million trying to sway voters in the governor’s race.

“Of course, the general election is where the real money comes in and you really see a lot of spending,” says Craig Mauger,  the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “By the end of the election, from what we’ve seen in recent races, the outside money will certainly be more than the candidates.”

Michigan’s most expensive governor’s race occurred in 2006. $79 million was spent on the race of then Gov. Jennifer Granholm and businessman Dick DeVos combined. DeVos and his wife (Betsy DeVos is currently the U.S. Secretary of Education), spent $35 million on his successful run for the Republican nomination and unsuccessful run in the general election.    

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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