If any of the challengers in House elections need a little financial help in the last week before the election, they might want to give Reps. Mel Levine (D-Calif.) or Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.) a call. The two incumbents between them had nearly $3.4 million in their campaign accounts as of Sept. 30 -- more than all 331 challengers combined, according to a Common Cause analysis.
The huge fund-raising advantage that incumbents have over challengers prevails in most races this year, even those that were close in 1988. Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) won narrowly as a challenger two years ago. This cycle she has raised more than $1 million more than her challenger.
Likewise, Rep. Peter Hoagland (D-Neb.) barely won in 1988. This time around, his opponent has raised $468,289. But Hoagland has raised more than that just in political action committee (PAC) funds -- $544,768, third most of any candidate -- and more than $800,000 overall.
Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) and minority whip Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) are among the spending leaders. Gephardt has spent more than $1 million against an opponent who has spent less than $53,000. Gingrich spent more than $886,000, his foe less than $200,000.
Overall, House incumbents have had $204 million to spend on 1990 elections, including $146 million raised since 1988 elections and $58 million left over in campaign accounts, Common Cause said. That total is nine times more than the $24 million raised by challengers, up from a sevenfold advantage held by incumbents in 1988. PACs have given House incumbents 19 times more money than they have given challengers -- nearly $69 million compared with $3.7 million. In 1988, incumbents had a 12-1 advantage in PAC funding.