GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS


Rhode Island Politics, by the Numbers

With the campaign season looming, the Society’s government relations counsel asked – and answered – two important questions:

First, what does it cost to run for the General Assembly in Rhode Island? Second, how engaged is the business community in getting pro-business candidates elected to office?

New Harbor Group, longstanding consultants to the Society, recently completed their bi-annual survey of what every candidate for the General Assembly raised and spent on their campaign in 2012. This year, for the first time, they also produced a review of political contributions in Rhode Island by business leaders, as well. Both surveys are available online - here are some highlights:

Historically, the leadership of both chambers raises and spends the most money and that proved to be the case again in 2012. The Speaker of the House raised $151,470, an increase of nearly $10,000 over 2010, and spent $150,627 last year. The Senate President raised $121,649, also an increase of $10,000, and spent $99,761.

The typical winner in either chamber spent significantly less than the leaders, however. In the Senate the median winner spent $20,546, while in the House the figure was $12,918.

But even those figures are high in a surprising number of races. For instance, in the House, 31 of 75 members spent less than $10,000 to get elected. Meanwhile, seven of 38 Senators spent less than $10,000 to get elected, despite running in districts twice as populous as their counterparts in the House. Half of the Senate, or 19 Senators, spent less than $20,000 on their winning campaigns.

To read this survey and learn more, click here.

Rhode Island Business Community

The business survey took a look at the campaign activities of the 251 people who made up the governing bodies of the state’s four largest chambers of commerce and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council. Here are some highlights of that survey:

  • The group of 251 business people combined to contribute nearly $147,000 to candidates for state and local office in 2012.
  • However, a majority of the group’s members made no recordable contributions to candidates at the state and local level in 2012.
  • In fact, the Top 20 contributors, or 8% of the business leaders, made a majority of the contributions.
  • Of the $2.87 million raised by all candidates for the General Assembly in 2012, 1.34% of that amount came from the 251 business leaders. More than half of that amount was contributed to the Assembly leadership.

It should be noted that state law does not require contributions of $100 or less to be recorded by name on a candidate’s campaign finance report, although many do so. This means that it is possible that contributions at that level might not show up in the public record and therefore might not be recorded in the survey.

To read this survey and learn more, Click here.

The Numbers

  • The 75 successful candidates for the R.I. House of Representatives spent $1.3 million on their campaigns in 2012, and raised $1.21 million.
  • The 37 unsuccessful candidates for the R.I. House of Representatives spent $460,000 on their campaigns in 2012, and raised $322,000.
  • The 38 successful candidates for the R.I. State Senate spent $1.12 million on their campaigns in 2012, and raised $982,000.
  • The 41 unsuccessful candidates for the R.I. State Senate spent $472,000 on their campaigns in 2012, and raised $350,000.