Candidates who self-fund often lose, but they're becoming more common
After Tuesday, Irv Slosberg could be a state senator — or he could be out more than $1 million in a failed election.
Slosberg, a Democratic state House member from Boca Raton, has spent about $1.1 million of his own money in a primary battle with Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth.
"I could spend my time going around begging for money from all of these special interests," Slosberg said. "Or I could just write a check myself rather than owing them."
Such extravagant personal spending is growing more popular for legislative jobs — despite their stingy $29,697 salaries.
In 2008, nine legislative candidates gave their campaigns $100,000 or more. So far this year, 27 have — and there are still two months left until November's general election.
A number of conditions explain why.
• The concentration of wealth in the last 30 years has produced a record number of billionaires and millionaires undaunted by the typical expenses of a campaign.
• While state law limits donors to $1,000 per candidate each election year, no such restrictions exist for candidates. They can loan or donate themselves as much as they can afford.
• In an era where being an outsider appeals to voters, relying on personal wealth comes with political benefits. Candidates don't have to worry about appearing bought and paid for by big money donors.
• Convenience. Candidates don't have to spend time making pleas for big bucks.
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