Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Cost of a Campaign

Chapter XIX of Part One of Political Reform in Wisconsin (1910) by Emanuel L. Philipp (see Introduction and Contents)

It cost candidates in the city of Milwaukee $50,479.49 to run for office in 1908 with the primary election law in operation. It cost but $8,280.93 in 1898 when the primary law was not in operation. The difference, $42,198.56, it will be conceded, is a heavy tax to place upon candidates for office. It is true there were more candidates running for office in 1908 than in 1898, but that is merely another illustration of the operations of the new statute. So far as the operations of the corrupt practices act are concerned it may be said that when that law was new it was respected and obeyed by a large percentage of the candidates for office. The only material change made in the law since 1897 has been to require the district attorney to demand statements from candidates who have failed to comply with its provisions after a certain period.


As an indication of the effect of the primary election law on the expenses of candidates for office the following tables compiled from the records in the offices of the city clerk of Milwaukee, the county clerk of Milwaukee county, and the secretary of state, will serve. The year 1904 was the last convention year in which candidates were nominated under the old Milwaukee primary law in both city and county, and 1906 was the first primary election year. It should be explained that one important statement, that of Mayor Rose, has been lost from the files for the year 1904, although there is little doubt that such a statement was rendered at the time.

CITY OF MILWAUKEE.

All           Admininstrative
The same abnormal increase in the expenses of candidates, is shown in the statements filed with the county clerk, from which the following table is made up:

ALL COUNTY OFFICERS.

1898 103 statements  $14,887.91
1900  67 statements   24,952.58
1902  53 statements   27,792.14
1904  57 statements   18,456.85
1906  95 statements   69,873.03
1908  87 statements   46,308.87
The excess of the amount expended in 1906 over that of 1908 is explained by two statements, those of Francis McGovern and F. X. Boden, candidates for district attorney. Mr. McGovern rendered an account amounting to $16,699,85, and Mr. Boden's statement placed his expenses at $15,252.58. In 1904, Mr. McGovern, running for the same office, spent $1,086.90. Deducting these two statements from the total, there still remains $37,920.45, as the expenses of the other candidates in the first primary year.

One of the most important offices of the county is that of sheriff, and it is one that is much sought after. In the last three campaigns the candidates for that office expended the following amounts in their attempts to secure the nomination and election:
1904, the last convention year, $3,075.00; 1906, the first primary year, $6,715.58; 1908, $9,011,86.

That the increase in the amount expended is not always due to a multiplication of candidates is shown by the abstract of statements of candidates for mayor filed with the city clerk which follows. David S. Rose, for instance, has been a candidate for that office at each election during the entire ten year period, and he has been the successful candidate each time except in 1906, when he was defeated by Sherman M. Becker. Mayor Rose's statement for 1906, the last convention year, can not he found, although he says he filed it according to law, but the fact that this veteran candidate, one who is acknowledged to have a large personal following in the city, found it necessary to increase his expenses under the primary law is clearly shown and it is significant. Another significant fact is that so many candidatcs have entered the race in 1906 and 1908 with ample funds and a willingness to spend liberally. Here is a list of the mayoralty candidates for ten years with the amounts expended by each:

FOR MAYOR.

1898
David S. Rose (D)       $933.25
William Geuder (R)       578.25
H. J. Baumgaertner (R)    63.10
H. H. Steinmnan (D)     nothing            
[total]               $1,574.00

1900
David S. Rose (D)      $1,877.55
H. J. Baumgaertner (R)  1,197.35
Frederic Heath (S. D.)      6.50
[total]                $3,081.40

1902
David S. Rose (D)      $1,291.65
Charles Anson (R)         675.00
[total]                $1,966.65

1904
David S. Rose (D)   no statement                  
Guy D. Goff (R)           $600.00
A. A. Clas, by petition     27.25
Victor L. Berger (S. D.)  nothing                  
[total]                   $627.25


1906
David S. Rose (D)       $2,027.10
W. G. Bruce (D)          1,662.03
S. M. Becker             9,207.91
J. Vierthaler (S.L.)     1,784.62
W. A. Arnold (S.L.)       nothing
[total]                $14,735.21

1908
David S. Rose (D)       $5,223.89
W. H. Graebner (D)       2,488.23
Louis A. Dahlman         7,900.69
T. J. Pringle            6,141.02
John T. Kelly (R)        3,205.80
G. A. Zilgitt (D)          535.00
Emil Seidel (S.D.)           5.50
Thomas Gardner (Pro.)     nothing
[total]                $25,500.13
Turning now to the expense statements filed with the secretary of state since the corrupt practices act went into effect in 1898, the same climb of expenses upward is noticed. No account is taken of the few candidates for the legislature who are required by law to file their statements at Madison, the examination being communed to state officers, members of congress, and United States senators.

1898
Governor               $5,821.04
Lieutenant Governor     1,216.75
Secretary of State      2,327.72
Treasurer               1,472.80
Attorney General          815.50
Insurance Commissioner    169.87
[total] State ticket  $11,823.71
Congressional ticket  $19,437.75
1899
United States senate   $6,760.60

1900
Governor               $6,780.93
Lieutenant Governor       795.00
Secretary of State      1,166.04
Treasurer                 704.49
Attorney General          648.26
Insurance Commissioner  1,176.53
[total] State ticket  $11,271.07
Congressional ticket  $19,834.88

1902
Governor               $7,184.61
Lieutenant Governor     1,073.53
Secretary of State      3,738.28
Treasurer               2,402.75
Attorney General        1,181.15
Insurance Commissioner  2,026.74
[total] State ticket  $17,607.06
Congressional ticket  $24,276.20
1903
United States senate     nothing

1904
Governor               $8,061.74
Lieutenant Governor     1,258.60
Secretary of State      4,106.20
Treasurer               3,375.50
Attorney General        1,015.85
Insurance Commissioner  4,583.78
[total] State ticket  $22,601.67
Congressional ticket  $23,538.46
1905
United States senate     $262.87

1906
Governor              $17,407.25
Lieutenant Governor    15,031.46
Secretary of State      3,317.07
Treasurer               8,792.35
Attorney General        4,801.58
Insurance Commissioner  1,838.33
[total] State ticket  $51,188.04
Congressional ticket  $43,327.78
1907
United States senate   $6,187.89

1908
Governor              $10,854.70
Lieutenant Governor     4,006.42
Secretary of State        907.35
Treasurer               1,659.70
Attorney General        1,023.92
Insurance Commissioner  4,561.09
[total] State ticket  $23,013.19
Congressional ticket  $50,417.79
1909
United States senate $192,977.59
The decrease in the cost to candidates for state offices in the campaign of 1908 when compared with 1906 is explained by the fact that the state officers were all in the field for renomination and re-election, and, as it has bean customary in this state to recognize the right to a second term, there was little opposition to the old officers with the single exception of the candidate for insurance commissioner. Still, the expenses that year were more than double the amount reported in 1902.