Topeka Democratic incumbent Steve Six has spent twice as much money as his Republican challenger for Kansas attorney general, but outside groups appear to be spending more than the candidates to influence the race.
Finance records available Tuesday showed Six had spent more than $1.1 million through Thursday. GOP nominee Derek Schmidt, the Kansas Senate’s majority leader, had spent less than $474,000.
In the governor’s race, GOP nominee and U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, had a large fundraising advantage, as expected, over Democratic candidate and state Sen. Tom Holland. Secretary of State Chris Biggs and State Treasurer Dennis McKinney, both Democrats, have outspent their opponents. Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, a Republican, has no opponent in the Nov. 2 election.
The attorney general’s race is notable because of outside groups’ attempts to influence voters. Six spokesman Gavin Young said the Democrat has had to raise more money than Schmidt to counter groups supporting the Republican, including one with commitments for television time approaching $1 million.
“He’s not generating his own support, but he’s getting plenty of support from special interests,” Young said of Schmidt.
But Six is getting outside help, too. A political action committee funded largely by the Democratic Attorneys General Association spent $889,000 from late August through mid-October to help Six, records showed. Most of the money went for radio and television advertising time in October.
Schmidt spokeswoman Jackie McClaskey said she expects the figure to rise because, “I’m guessing they’re not going to invest that kind of money and quit.”
Statewide candidates were required to file their latest finance reports electronically by midnight Monday, disclosing contributions and spending from July 23 through Oct. 21.
The records also showed Six had raised nearly $1.2 million for the race compared with $506,000 for Schmidt.
But Six has been raising money longer. He started in March 2008, shortly after Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appointed him to replace Paul Morrison, who resigned over a sex scandal. Six previously had been a Douglas County trial judge.
Schmidt didn’t start raising money until November 2009.
He has had help from the Iowa-based American Future Fund, which paid for TV ads criticizing Six because he won’t join court challenges to the federal health care reform law. Six has said there’s no need to spend Kansas’ resources on such challenges.
American Future Fund officials didn’t return a telephone message. The group doesn’t have to file reports in Kansas because the ads don’t “expressly advocate” the election or defeat of a candidate but simply criticize Six.
McClaskey initially said the group is expected to spend between $300,000 and $400,000 but later updated the figure to $678,000, based on her campaign’s research.
Six’s campaign produced a report, based on its review of data from television stations, showing $959,000 worth of time for the Iowa group from Oct. 5 through the election. The figures didn’t include radio time or other expenses, such as polling or consulting.
The Kansas Republican Party also purchased $40,000 worth of television advertising, executive director Ashley McMillan said. Young noted that Six’s campaign saw it listed as “KS GOP for Schmidt” in stations’ reports.
Meanwhile, the Washington-based Committee for Justice and Fairness, which is backing Six, reported raising $3.3 million from July 23 through Oct. 21, all but $20,000 of it from the Democratic Attorneys General Association.
It spent $833,000 on radio and television time for ads specifically for Six, plus money on polling and consulting.
Young said the difference is that the committee is reporting its activities, while American Future Fund is working anonymously. McMillan countered that the committee’s name hides its Democratic ties in a GOP-leaning state.
In the governor’s race, Brownback had spent nearly $2.3 million through Thursday and had almost $634,000 in cash left, finance records showed. Holland had spent about $574,000 and had about $74,000 left.
In the secretary of state’s race, Biggs spent $241,000 from July 23 through Oct. 21, emerging from a contested Aug. 3 primary. The GOP nominee, Kansas City-area law professor Kris Kobach also had a primary race and spent about $95,000 during the same three-month period.
But Kobach ended the period with almost $131,000 in cash, compared with less than $11,000 for Biggs.
In the treasurer’s race, McKinney spent almost $325,000 through Thursday. That’s six times as much as Republican and Sedgwick County Treasurer Ron Estes, whose total was about $54,000.