LANSING, Mich. — The race to represent Michigan's newly redrawn 7th Congressional District is well underway and that means fundraising.
In the last quarter of 2021, Democratic U.S Rep. Elissa Slotkin raised over $950,000 and Republican state Senator Tom Barrett raised more than $300,000.
"I think we find, just broadly speaking in terms of congressional elections, that generally the candidate who spends the most money tends to win elections," said Simon Schuster, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
But Schuster says there are plenty of cases in Michigan's history where the biggest spender still loses. So in this race, it's too early to tell.
Although Slotkin has raised more than twice as much as Barrett, he says he entered the race later and is still pleased to have surpassed his first funding goal.
“I did not get into this race for Congress until just a little bit before Thanksgiving. Normally, most campaigns, you would have a full quarter of time, three full months to raise funds for your first campaign finance report," he said. " I set a pretty aggressive goal to raise a quarter million dollars in this first period to just show the strength that we have in our campaign going forward. And I'm proud to report that we were able to raise more than $300,000 in just a few week's time.”
Austin Cook, a spokesman for Slotkin, says she has refused funding from corporate PACs and that, "This is going to be a tough race, but Elissa Slotkin knows what it takes to win in competitive districts and, in 2022, we're building a campaign to do just that."
The money raised in political campaigns is typically used in a few ways.
“I would say that generally it's held true that the bulk of political spending and advertising has remained on TV," Schuster said. "But as the amount of money we see flowing into our campaigns increases, they become increasingly complex.”
Money also goes towards supporting campaign staff, consultants and additional advertising, he said, and "we're seeing more and more advertising on social media."