Election spending: Dollars and cents equal votes for candidates

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How much was a vote worth in the general election?

By Geoff Hamill


Buying votes is not legal, but in the long run, candidates pay to get your vote and hopefully occupy public office. They post signs around the county, put bumper stickers and signs on vehicles,  advertise with local media outlets and take other measures to get elected, and those efforts can get expensive. By Kentucky state law, any candidate who spends more than $1,000 on a campaign is required to complete paperwork showing how the money was spent, as well as how it was collected to fund a campaign.

Those spending less than $1,000 do not have to complete the paperwork, and no records are kept by the state on such spending.
In looking back at the local general election, it’s clear that spending more money doesn’t necessarily get a candidate elected. All winners in the general election in November spent less than their opponents per vote received. The financial information below is provided by the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, and is available for viewing by the public at www.kref.ky.gov on the Internet, along with other spending and donation details for each candidate.
In the race for Washington County judge-executive, incumbent John Settles defeated challenger Tony Royalty by a total of 2,788 votes to 1,810. Settles spent $7,349, while Royalty spent $5,885.77. Settles averaged spending $2.64 per vote to Royalty’s $3.25 per vote.
Candidates for Washington County sheriff included incumbent Tommy Bartley, who collected 2,670 votes in the general election. Bartley spent $2,361.76, which averaged $1.13 per vote. Bartley came out better in votes and spending than his opponents. Jim Crouch lost the election to Bartley, collecting 1,921 votes and spending $5,106.41 in the process. Crouch averaged spending $2.66 per vote he received. Alan Corbett and Brad Langford each were candidates in the primary election, but neither advanced to the general election. Corbett received 900 votes, spent $15,835, and averaged spending $17.59 per vote. Langford got 466 votes while spending $5,800. He averaged $12.45 per vote.
Glenn Black retained the office of Washington County clerk, defeating Julie McRay Waits in the general election. Black spent $3,003.22 on the primary election, collecting 2,794 votes. He averaged spending $1.07 per vote. Waits received 1,806 votes, spent a total of $3,601.57, and averaged spending $1.99 per vote. In the primary, Black defeated challenger Richard “Richie” Hamilton, who spent $859.75. He received 351 votes and spent an average of $2.45 per vote.
In the race for Washington County jailer, incumbent Steve Hardin defeated Terry Warner in the general election by a vote total of 2,941 to 1,486. Warner spent $1,092.85, which was an average of $.74 per vote. Felix Keene was defeated by Hardin in the primary election, but since neither spent in excess of $1,000, they were not required by the state to submit financial reports.
No other local races featured a candidate who spent in excess of $1,000, according to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.
For more details visit www.kref.ky.gov and click on the KREF Searchable Database tab on the left of the screen.