At $40M, Michigan’s 2018 Senate race didn’t crack top 10 nationwide

    Debbie Stabenow | Susan J. Demas

    The 2018 battle between U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) and Republican businessman John James cost a pretty penny — $40 million to be exact.

    But the race didn’t even break into the top 10 most expensive races across the country, the nonprofit Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN) reported on Thursday.

    “Michigan’s U.S. Senate race was among the 10 closest nationally, but it wasn’t among the 10 most expensive. The 10 most expensive races all attracted at least $66 million in total independent spending and general election and primary candidate spending,” MCFN Executive Director Craig Mauger wrote.

    Those figures are according to tracking by the Center for Responsive Politics. The most expensive U.S. Senate race was in Florida, which topped $200 million. Then-U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, lost to Republican then-Gov. Rick Scott. That’s the most expensive U.S. Senate race in U.S. history, according to the organization.

    The $40 million in Michigan includes spending by outside groups. Stabenow spent about $17 million and James shelled out roughly $11 million.

    John James at the Detroit Regional Chamber conference, Feb. 28, 2019 |Ken Coleman

    The incumbent defeated James by 6 points. He’s currently mulling another U.S. Senate bid in 2020, this time against U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.).

    Peters won an open seat in 2014 against GOP former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in a pricier race than the 2018 election, MCFN notes. The 2014 election cost about $58.5 million overall, including $36.3 million in independent expenditures. Peters won by 13 points.

    There was no U.S. Senate election in Michigan in 2016.

    Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.


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