Reader’s contributions set record for local campaign

By Bill Felber

The nearly $75,000 raised by Bob Reader to run his campaign for the 22nd District Senate seat may look paltry compared with some of the totals in other Senate races this year. But it almost certainly sets a record for a Riley County campaign.

Reader’s contributions totals became public along with those of other candidates for state and local offices at Monday’s deadline for filing campaign expense reports. His report showed $74,105 in contributions, more than twice the $33,280 reported by his Democratic opponent, Tom Hawk.

A records check conducted by The Mercury establishes that it is also higher than any Manhattan Senate campaign since at least 2000, topping the previous high of $69,335 raised by Rusty Wilson in his failed bid to unseat Roger Reitz in 2008. That year Reitz raised $61,136.

One notable aspect was where Reader’s money came from. In 2008, Wilson raised 84 percent of his total within the 22nd District, loaning much of that total to himself. In his reports this week, Reader documented that 57 percent of his funds — more than $31,000 — came from outside the district, including 15 percent ($10,700) from out of state.

That sourcing differential may reflect the varying approaches between parties. In 2008, Reitz drew 81 percent of his cash from outside the district, 24 percent from out of state.

The $107,000 combined total for Reader and Hawk did not surpass the $130,000 raised by Reitz and Wilson in 2008. But it underscored the ratcheting up of spending on Senate races that began that year. In 2004, when Reitz defeated Democratic Julie Govert-Walter, the two candidates only raised a combined $57,000. In 2000, Sen. Lana Oleen was uncontested for re-election.

Reader’s total may be large by area standards, but it paled in comparison with some other Senate races. In the Topeka-based 18th District, incumbent Democrat Laura Kelly collected $124,000 for her race against Dick Barta, who collected $62,000.

In the 19th Senate District, incumbent Democrat Anthony Hensley raised $93,00.

Democratic Sen. Tom Holland of Baldwin City, spent more than $100,000 on his re-election over the past three months and still had enough money to repay a personal loan of $52,000 to his campaign. His conservative GOP opponent is state Rep. Anthony Brown of Eudora, who spent about $61,000.

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