Financing presidential and state races

Every Thursday we speak with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week it’s all about campaign finance. Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White discusses the money behind presidential and state races.

President Obama was fundraising in metro Detroit yesterday. This week’s campaign finance reports show Mitt Romney leading Obama as of February. Demas says, “Right now the Obama campaign is touting the fact that it has 10 offices open in Michigan whereas Romney doesn’t have any at the moment. We’ll see if that organization translates into money or if Romney continues his really impressive fundraising pattern.”

In the Michigan Senate race, the numbers show incumbent Debbie Stabenow far ahead of her Republican contenders and the difference amounts to millions of dollars. Will Republicans be able to make up ground for this?

Sikkema remarks, “The only way for Republicans to be competitive financially with Governor Stabenow is if this becomes a targeted race nationally from the senatorial campaign committee…and then it’s all outside money.”

Ruth Johnson, Michigan’s Secretary of State, announced a new Michigan campaign finance search application for iPhones and iPads. Demas argues, “If we want to increase transparency maybe we should look at reforming our system for campaign finance where reporting is way behind other states….It’s nice that we can access information on our phones, but the information we can get is pretty limited.

Sikkema is also skeptical of the new application: “I don’t think it has a whole lot of value here to improve the political process.”

- Arielle Mellen, Michigan Radio Newsroom