So far, the race for Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar’s seat has seen the most Super PAC money, with $2.5 million in the race, most of it against the Indiana Republican or in support of his primary opponent. Tea Party Republicans are backing state treasurer Richard Mourdock, and FreedomWorks alone has spent over half a million in the race.A place where even greater leverage may be created by Super PACs is in state and even local election contests.
How much further does $10,000 or $100,000 go at the state level? According to a Pew Center on the States analysis, in the mid-2000s the average cost of a winning state Senate campaign was anywhere from $5,713 (North Dakota) to $938,522 (California). In Arizona it was $36,696; in Wisconsin, $140,287; in North Carolina, $234,031. By contrast, the average cost of a US Senate seat in 2010 was $9.2 million.Which is precisely the point.
Super-PACs playing at the state level don't need to drop millions to make a big impact, says Neil Reiff, a veteran Democratic election attorney. In a crowded state-level or congressional primary with three or four candidates, a little money goes a long way. "If you've got a field with little or no name recognition," Reiff says, "you can drown out everyone else."
At Pro-Publica, PAC Track, you can follow the money.