It takes money to run for office, and when campaign donations come up short, candidates often tap into their own funds. In 2010, Peter Shumlin memorably dipped into his then-$900,000 annual income to loan his gubernatorial campaign $275,000. This year, Shumlin’s Republican challenger, retired Fidelity executive and state Sen. Randy Brock, loaned his campaign $300,000 — 43 percent of all the money he’s taken in. In 2011, Brock reported income totaling $268,000.
Sometimes campaign loans are paid back with future contributions, but often wealthy candidates end up “forgiving” the money they loan their campaigns — making them, in essence, high-dollar gifts. That can give well-heeled candidates with money a distinct advantage, which directly affects the demographic makeup of state government.
Who else is self-funding their campaigns this year — either with loans or direct contributions? Seven Days analyzed the most recent fundraising reports for candidates running for statewide office and state Senate — the races that require the most money to win. One theme jumped out immediately: Most self-funders are candidates challenging incumbents or those battling for open seats without name recognition or easy access to donations from political action committees, businesses and lobbyists.
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