Outside Money Flows Into Two State House Races

CHICAGO (CBS) — Early voting set records in Cook County and in key races, so did campaign spending.

CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley takes a look at the sky-high money that’s being spent on two races for low-level offices.

The state rep showdown between maverick Democrat Ken Dunkin and union-funded challenger Juliana Stratton is now the most expensive in Illinois history, with much of the cash flowing in from outside.

“A lot of the donors to these super PACs are from outside the district and that means that the influence of what we would consider outside money in these local races has reached new heights,” said Sarah Brune of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

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Dunkin, helped by an influx of Republican cash, has raised $2.6 million. Stratton, largely funded by labor unions, has raised $2.8 million. That makes for a combined total of more than $5.4 million.

“When the stakes are high, the money flows and that’s what we’re seeing in this race,” said Alden Loury, senior policy analyst with the Better Government Association.

Money is flowing to the race because it’s a proxy battle between Governor Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Mike Madigan for legislative control.

Meantime, Madigan’s spending big to defend his own district, the 22nd, which surrounds Midway Airport. He’s raised a whopping $3.3 million while challenger Jason Gonzales, hand-picked by forces friendly to Governor Rauner, has taken in little more than $600,000. That’s more than $3.9 million in all, again, overwhelmingly from outside the district.

“I believe it’s detrimental to local voters because it diminishes their voice and it strengthens the voice of wealthy donors from outside the district who are able to pump money in and buy as many ads as they want,” Brune said.

For comparison sake, a typical state rep’s race can often be funded for as little as $100,000.

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