Mar 28, 2022 - Politics & Policy

The Senate candidates getting the most special interest money

Special-interest group spending on Senate candidates, 2022
Data: OpenSecrets; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Republican Senate campaigns in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Alabama are among those attracting the most spending from special-interest groups and political actions committees this cycle, according to financial data compiled by OpenSecrets.

Why it matters: Super PACs, nonprofits and party committees can pump unlimited sums into key states and districts to boost a candidate or wound an opponent.

  • While outside money has influenced politics and campaigns for decades, this year's midterms could feature the most spending yet.
  • The New York Times has written: "The 2022 midterm elections were awash in political money even before the year began."

Between the lines: The numbers reflect the total amount of money, so far, special-interest groups have spent both in support of or against these 10 candidates whose campaigns have received the most outside attention.

  • For example, while most of the $7.8 million spent on Republican J.D. Vance in Ohio has been in support of his campaign, over $1.5 million has been spent against it.
  • Outside groups have spent more than $8 million attacking Mehmet Oz in his bid to be Pennsylvania's newest U.S. senator. Pat McCrory, another Republican running in North Carolina, is the only other candidate in the group that's received all negative spending, OpenSecrets found.
  • These groups don't give directly to the candidates; instead, they spend their money on communications, ads and other independent expenditures that indirectly help or hurt a candidate.

Go deeper: Even some who aren’t up for re-election this cycle made the list, like Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.).

  • The money spent on his campaign is actually from the 2021 special election — not toward the 2022 elections.
  • His colleague, Sen. Raphael Warnock, is running for re-election this cycle.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that the total money spent on Sen. Jon Ossoff’s campaign was from the 2021 special election and not toward the 2022 cycle.

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