There is a difference between votes and money.
Or at least there should be.
The overlap has existed forever, which is unsurprising. When the country was founded, it wasn’t just that white men where the only ones who could vote. They also had to be rich enough to own land, meaning most of the common people were in the same unrepresented boat.
But that changed over the years. More people were given the right to a ballot. As the number of votes grew, the importance of money in campaigning grew.
Today’s issues aren’t like the blatant corruption of Tammany Hall in the 19th century. Instead, the intersection of money and votes is about access and advertising. The dollars raked into a campaign’s coffers are what buy the signs along the road, the messaging on the radio, the pop-ups online and the visuals on TV and streaming services.
In Pennsylvania, that advertising is unavoidable. As one of the most coveted prizes Nov. 8, Pennsylvania has the potential to swing a seat to the Democrats or maintain the seesaw balance in the U.S. Senate. It may be even more critical in Harrisburg. A win one way or the other could see the government solidly GOP or the first back-to-back Democrats in the Governor’s Mansion since David Lawrence left office in 1966.
The race between Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano is heated. Shapiro is polling ahead, according to RealClear Politics, but Mastriano has a dedicated and vocal constituency, especially in the more rural areas that make up the majority of the state’s geography.
And speaking of geography, Spotlight PA has done a deep dive into where the money behind this year’s gubernatorial campaigns has originated, complete with detailed maps. They show massive differences in the number of donors. Since January 2021 through mid-September, Shapiro raised just shy of $51 million. Mastriano drew only a tenth of that, slightly under $5 million.
When it comes to individual donors, Shapiro pulled funds from about 37,000 people. There were 62.75% from Pennsylvania, but the other 37.25% were from out of state — mostly California (2,969), New York (1,733) and New Jersey (851).
Mastriano had just about 9,000 donors. The senator picked up 83% of his donations in state, with the others coming predominantly from California (212), Florida (197) and Texas (143).
The problem is not that donations are being sought or given. It is legal for both parties and all candidates.
That is the issue. Pennsylvania voices should not be diluted, much less drowned out, by money from other states that should be focusing on their own races.
This is a problem for the state Legislature to take up. Maybe whoever wins the governor’s race could encourage that.
— Pittsburgh Tribune-Review