Originally Posted Online: Nov. 01, 2012, 7:26 pm
Last Updated: Nov. 01, 2012, 7:27 pm

Jacobs, Albracht battle among state legislature's costliest

Comment on this story

By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

The state Senate District 36 campaign between Republican Bill Albracht and state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, now is the second most expensive state race in Illinois after attracting significant money from outside groups.

A total of $1.7 million has been raised in the race since July 1, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.The number includes $240,000 in uncoordinated money spent in the district by a range of outside groups, the highest in the state for Illinois Senate or House elections.

"It's a huge amount of money," David Morrison, of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform,said. "What's striking about this race is how much uncoordinated money is being spent."

Republicans are betting big on Mr. Albracht's chances of defeating Sen. Jacobs.Mr. Albracht has raised $569,000 since July 1 and had a cash balance of $48,000,aided by big donations from Republican committees,according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

But that's still short of the $746,000 raised over the same period by Sen. Jacobs who started out with a cash balance of $95,000.Sen. Jacobs has raised around $1.2 million in the entire 2012 cycle when money raised in his primary election and up to July 1 is included, public records show.

"It's pretty rare to see this kind of money being raised, especially in a district that has a long-term incumbent," Mr. Morrison said.

The amount raised in District 36 has surpassed the previous local record of $1.4 million for a state election raised by former State Rep. Mike Boland and Republican Steve Haring.

Outside liberal and conservative groups with wealthy donors are trying to sway the race.

The pro-choice Personal PAC has pumped $75,000 in advertising dollars into the race to oppose Mr. Albracht, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Fred Eychaner, the founder of Chicago-based newspaper publisher Newsweb Corp.,gave $190,000 to the Personal PAC Independent Committee in September, according to the state board of elections. The Associated Press has reportedMr. Eychaner also has donated $3.5 million to the Priorities USA Action super PAC, which supports President Barack Obama.

Another outside group, JOBS PAC, has spent $62,000 on cable TV advertising supporting Sen. Jacobs. The group was formed by the Illinois Manufacturers' Association and the National Association of Realtors.

On the conservative side, Richard Uihlein, the CEO of Uline, a shipping supply company, has personally donated $5,000 to Mr. Albracht, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.Mr. Uihlein also is the joint largest donor to Liberty Principles PAC, which has spent almost $50,000 on a TV advertising and mailer campaign critical of Sen. Jacobs and state Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan.

New political donation limits introduced last year cap contributions from unions and corporations at $10,000 and at $50,000 for candidate and political action committees.There's no cap on contributions in the general election from party committees.

If an independent organization spends more than $100,000 on a race, contribution limits for candidate are removed. In District 36, the restrictions still are in place as no single independent group has spent more than $100,000, Mr. Morrison said.

Top 5 most expensive Illinois races

Senate District 48
Andy Manar (D)  $1,405,408
Mike McElroy (R) $884,947.46
Uncoordinated spending $35,000
Total: $2,325,355

Senate District 36
State Sen. Mike Jacobs (D) $841,892
Bill Albracht (R) $617,681 
Uncoordinated spending $240,000
Total: $1,700,490

Senate District 46 
State Sen. David Koehler (D)  $1,006,464 
Pat Sullivan (R) $667,948.09
Uncoordinated spending $15,000
Total: $1,689,412

House District 52
Dee Beaubien (Ind)  $934,154 
David McSweeney (R) $651,048
Uncoordinated spending $26,000
Total: $1,611,203

Senate District 28
State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D) $1,218,672 
Jim O'Donnell (R) $338,651.01
Uncoordinated spending $48,007
Total: $1,605,330

Source: Illinois Campaign for Political Reform