The first campaign for governor under the contribution limits imposed by voters in 2016 is less expensive than it was four years ago, but following the money requires additional steps to determine the original source of the dollars.
Through Wednesday, the official campaign committees of incumbent Republican Gov. Mike Parson and his Democratic challenger, State Auditor Nicole Galloway, had raised a combined $9.1 million, with Parson accounting for $5.8 million of the total.
That is far less than the combined $49.6 million raised by Republican nominee Eric Greitens and Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster in 2016, but it isn’t by half the full tally of fundraising for the race to be decided Tuesday.
The official campaigns are limited to $2,650 from each donor, and the amount can be donated for both the primary and general election. But both candidates are also being supported by independent political action committees that are unrestrained by contribution limits.
Galloway, in fact, has two, one that raises money from unions, trial attorneys and other contributors, and one that spends it after a lump-sum transfer.
Under campaign finance law, candidates are not supposed to direct the spending of the political action committees supporting them, but they are allowed to have joint fundraisers where donors give to the official campaign and the PAC.
A PAC called Uniting Missouri has raised $22.6 million in support of Parson since it was created in 2018, after he was sworn in as governor following Greitens’ resignation. Of that amount, $14.4 million has been donated by the Republican Governors Association.
The next largest contributor is major GOP donor Rex Sinquefield, who has given $2 million since 2018.
The PAC working on Galloway’s behalf, A Stronger Missouri, has raised $11.7 million, including $7 million from the Democratic Governors Association and $3.6 million from Keep Government Accountable, a PAC formed in 2018, when Galloway was running for re-election as auditor.
Unions, a reliable source of campaign funds for Democrats, have given $2 million to Keeping Government Accountable since the beginning of 2019.
Other outside groups are also spending on targeted audiences on behalf of Parson and Galloway, but in far smaller amounts so far than was lavished on the 2016 campaign. Parson has had $17,513 spent on his behalf, mainly by local Republican groups, and $98,381 spent to oppose him, mainly by Planned Parenthood and a union fund spending on behalf of Democrats called Protect Missouri Freedom.
Galloway has been the target of $4,328 in independent opposition spending and the beneficiary of $87,399 in her support, the bulk of it by Planned Parenthood.
In 2016, independent spending totaled $3.2 million in the general election, including $1.6 million spent opposing Koster and $550,000 spent opposing Greitens.