Top Spending House Candidates Meet Mixed Fate

by Nathan L. Gonzales August 1, 2008 · 12:05 AM EDT

Spending the most money in a race doesn’t guarantee you a seat in Congress.

In California’s 4th district, former Rep. Doug Ose (R) spent $6.9 million, making him the top spending House candidate this cycle to date, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Ose lost in the June Republican primary, derailing his comeback bid.

GOP businessman Jim Oberweis, who lost the special election in Illinois’ 14th district, spent more than $4.1 million through June 30. He is the GOP nominee once again in the fall general election, but is the underdog.

Businessman Dan Meuser lost the GOP primary in Pennsylvania’s 10th district after spending almost $3.5 million.

Internet entrepreneur Jared Polis will try to buck the trend on Aug. 12, when he faces a competitive three-way Democratic primary in Colorado’s 2nd district. He spent almost $4 million through June 30, with weeks left to spend more of his personal money.

Businessman and scientist Bill Foster (D) has spent almost $3.5 million this cycle, winning, and trying to hold, the Illinois 14th district seat. Another special election winner, Niki Tsongas (D), spent almost $3 million through June 30 in Massachusetts’ 5th district. Both candidates are heavy favorites in November.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who spent $2.6 million, and House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), who spent $2.5 million, also made the top 10 list, but their seats aren’t in jeopardy either. Their money is doled out primarily to other candidates instead of their own re-election races.

Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young is in the political fight of his life and has to survive in both the primary and general elections. Young has already spent more than $2.3 million this cycle, through June 30, although a chunk of that has gone to legal fees and not necessarily his re-election.

The most curious House candidate to crack the top 10 is physician Deborah Honeycutt (R) in Georgia’s 13th district. She ran unopposed in the primary, but spent more than $2.4 million through June 25 in her long-shot race against Rep. David Scott (D).

Honeycutt raised more than $1.3 million last cycle, when she lost to Scott 69 percent to 31 percent. After raising money from direct mail targeted at values voters, less than 10 percent of her campaign money was spent on media and campaign materials, according to the Center for Responsive Politics Web site.