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GOP outspent in six contests for state posts

Democrats had cash edge, still lost, final reports show by Claudia Lauer, Spencer Willems | December 31, 2014 at 3:37 a.m.

In several races for statewide office, the candidates with the most money didn't end up with the most votes on Election Day.

The deadline for filing final campaign-finance reports with the Arkansas secretary of state's office was Tuesday.

The reports showed Democrats outspent Republicans in the races for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, land commissioner and auditor. But Republicans won anyway, taking all seven constitutional offices for the first time.

"I have always believed that you need enough financial resources to be able to effectively communicate your message to a wide audience," said Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, who won the race for lieutenant governor in November.

"Beyond that amount -- whatever that particular amount is in a particular race -- there are historical examples that show extra money doesn't really do that much for you."

Griffin, who reported total contributions of $1,165,230 and no loans, spent $1,122,915.

His Democratic opponent John Burkhalter reported total contributions of $1,062,777 and lent himself another $2,014,000. He outspent Griffin by an almost 3-to-1 ratio, with $3,076,782 in expenses and an ending debt of $1,954,985.

Burkhalter did not return phone calls for comment Tuesday.

Democrats also handily outspent Republicans in the race for governor.

Republican Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson reported total contributions of $4,440,630 and a personal loan of $62,000. He reported expenditures of $4,415,752 and a surplus of $86,890.

Democratic candidate Mike Ross had not filed his final report as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, but a report filed at the end of October showed he had spent more than $6.1 million.

"I think that has a lot to do with the governor-elect and how he ran the campaign. It was very efficient," said J.R. Davis, Hutchinson's spokesman. "We worked hard and I'm sure the other side did, too. But it comes down to being efficient, the way the budget was spent and how we got our message across."

State Rep. Nate Steel, D-Nashville, who made an unsuccessful bid for Arkansas attorney general, reported raising $1,018,276. He lent himself $100,000 and reported spending $1,110,109.

Steel reported a campaign deficit of $100,000.

Steel said that figure should be closer to $92,000 and that he is still waiting for a number of refunds from advertising buys at television stations while he considers his options for retiring the debt.

He said he knew putting $100,000 of his own money into the campaign was a gamble, but at the time, he anticipated that his race would come down to the wire and was told every dollar could make a difference in the final stretch.

"I figured, I was busy raising money from all my friends and twisting arms so it was only fair to put my money where my mouth was," Steel said. "If it came down close to a thousand votes, and we could have done a few extra ads with [the money] ... I didn't want to live with that regret."

Republican Attorney General-elect Leslie Rutledge also ended her campaign in debt.

Rutledge reported in an electronic filing late Tuesday total contributions of $683,028 and a personal loan of $62,438. She reported expenses of $824,721 and an ending debt of about $42,752.

Incumbent Secretary of State Mark Martin, who won his re-election bid, reported total contributions of $77,715 and expenses of $69,037, leaving him with $8,678 in carry-over funds.

Democratic challenger Susan Inman reported in an electronic filing Tuesday total contributions of $131,804 and expenses of $131,804.

Auditor-elect Rep. Andrea Lea, R-Russellville, reported total contributions of $61,550 and expenses of $41,256. She reported a balance of about $6,223.

Democratic auditor candidate Regina Stewart Hampton reported total contributions of $93,258 and expenses of $134,155. She reported no campaign debt.

Incumbent Republican Land Commissioner John Thurston of Bigelow reported total contributions of $59,255, loans from himself of $1,142 and expenses of $38,487. He reported a balance of $21,910.

Thurston's campaign treasurer, Christopher Mayland, said he and Thurston were pleased to come out ahead at the end of the campaign.

At the end of Thurston's 2010 run, he finished slightly in debt but finished this election with money in the bank.

"He said, 'I got a little name recognition so I hope it'd be easier,'... it was," Mayland said. "He was nervous though ... he's pretty pleased with the response he got."

His Democratic opponent Mark Robertson reported contributions totaling $93,303 and a personal loan of $6,100. He reported $102,635 in expenses and debt of $6,030.

Treasurer-elect Dennis Milligan was the only Republican running for constitutional office to outspend his Democratic opponent. He reported total contributions of $157,451 and a personal loan of $50,469.

Milligan reported expenditures of $207,920 and said he still owes himself $50,246.

Democratic candidate Karen Sealy Garcia reported total contributions of $95,205 and expenses of $117,078. She also reported a personal loan of $21,873, which was also the amount of outstanding debt listed on her form.

Metro on 12/31/2014

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