(Record-Eagle, The (Traverse City, MI) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 03--TRAVERSE CITY -- State Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, spent nearly $250,000 on his bid for a state Senate seat.
Schmidt raised far more money than his Republican primary rival, Rep. Greg MacMaster, R-Kewadin, who collected $60,452 as of July 20, the cutoff for the most recent campaign finance report.
The two square off Tuesday in the primary to earn their party's nomination for the 37th Senate seat, which includes Grand Traverse and Antrim counties. The primary winner go up against a Democrat, either Phil Bellfy or Jimmy Schmidt, in the November general election.
Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by the libertarian Koch brothers, has spent on MacMaster's behalf. But murky campaign finance laws make it impossible to discern how much that group will spend for MacMaster.
Candidates that have the most money tend to win, said Rich Robinson, the executive director for the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. MacMaster's Americans for Prosperity supporters make it hard to tell exactly how much of a financial advantage Schmidt has.
"It's a bit of a wild card; we don't have any idea at all how much they're spending throughout the mail because there's no public file where you can tell how much is being spent," Robinson said. "At this point, I think it reverts back to the general rule that most of the time, money wins."
There's no way to track exactly how much money Americans for Prosperity spent on the race.
Schmidt's campaign received about $312,700 throughout the course of the election. It received another $14,500 worth of non-financial contributions, which include loans from Schmidt himself.
Schmidt garnered support from many industry political action committees, which can collect money from individual members and spend it on their behalf. He received more than $10,000 from the Realtors PAC and CMS Energy PAC. He also garnered support from the Auto Dealers of MI PAC, MI Chamber PAC, Business Leaders for Michigan PAC, MI Paving and Materials PAC, and others.
His campaign spent $240,865 as of July 20, according to his campaign finance report. It still had $71,866 left to spend by that date.
Schmidt's campaign paid about $75,000 to downstate public relations firm Lambert, Edwards and Associates for media and media ads since the beginning of 2014, according to his campaign finance report. His campaign also spent more than $44,000 on a Florida-based public relations firm, Majority Strategies, for mailings. The firm's website boasts of its work on many high-profile national Republican campaigns.
MacMaster's campaign spent about $49,000 throughout the election cycle and still had over $11,000 left over as of July 20. No single group or individual gave his campaign more than $2,000, according to his campaign finance report.
MacMaster 's campaign spent nearly $4,000 in December at Greystone Mansion in the Benzie County community of Honor for a fundraiser, Greystone owner Bob Sika said. He also spent about $7,400 with an Iowa-based company that makes campaign signs, and more than $9,000 at Okemos-based Republican consulting firm, Murray Communications.
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