(NewsNation) — State-level campaigns, which include races for governor and secretary of state, are on track to raise more than $7 billion for 2021 and 2022, according to a new analysis of financial disclosures by OpenSecrets.org.
The findings — which take into account the money raised for state-level candidates, party committees and ballot measure committees — signify a heightened interest in state-level races, particularly among candidates vying to oversee future elections, the D.C.-based nonprofit wrote.
“As with federal races, money flowing into state elections has skyrocketed in recent years — and 2022 ups the ante again,” OpenSecrets Executive Director Sheila Krumholz said in the report.
As of right now, Republican candidates are on pace to outraise Democrats by about $400 million, or about 17%, this cycle. Much of that difference can be attributed to the governors races in Texas and Florida, where Republican incumbents Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis have significantly outraised their opponents.
These are the most expensive races this cycle.
Governor races breaking records
The amount of money raised for governor races this cycle is expected to approach, and could exceed, the $1.8 billion record set during the 2018 midterms, OpenSecrets said.
The most expensive race in the country is not a particularly competitive one. Candidates in Illinois have raised almost $217 million this election cycle. Much of that has come from billionaire incumbent Democrat J.B. Pritzker, who has self-financed $132.1 million of the $132.3 million his campaign has raised, according to OpenSecrets.
Pritzker currently holds a 14-point lead over his Republican challenger Darren Bailey.
The second and third most expensive governor races — in Florida and Texas respectively — are expected to be closer, although both Republican incumbents are favored.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has raised more than $187 million between his two committees, smashing the gubernatorial fundraising record. His Democratic opponent Charlie Crist has raised about $24 million.
With more than $113 million, the Republican incumbent Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has outraised his Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke by a three-to-one margin.
The 2021 governor’s race in Virginia and the showdown between Josh Shapiro and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania round out the top five for this cycle.
most expensive secretary of state races
Races for secretary of state — the official that oversees elections in most states — have attracted more money in 2022 than ever before, OpenSecrets found.
The contest in Illinois once again leads the way. More than $9.5 million has been raised between Democrat Alexi Giannoulias ($8 million approx.) and Republican state Rep. Dan Brady ($1.5 million approx.).
“Clearly, people across the political spectrum are taking a new interest in secretary of state races in light of what happened in 2020, and both sides see these positions as critical,” Michael Beckel, research director of Issue One, told the Associated Press this week.
Other states with high fundraising totals include swing states like Michigan ($5.2 million raised) and Ohio ($4.1 million raised).
In Georgia, which became a focal point in the 2020 election, the candidates have raised more than $5 million.
Democrats have spent especially big on secretary of state races this cycle, with their candidates outraising Republicans $27.3 million to $22.2 million, according to OpenSecrets.
“We can’t take any risks when it comes to our democracy, and frankly our volunteers and donors have met the moment,” Kim Rogers, executive director of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, told the Associated Press. Her organization has pledged to spend at least $25 million on races this fall.
big bucks on ballot measures
Campaigns related to sports gambling in California have become the most expensive ballot-initiative fight in the state’s history, raising more money than any other ballot measures this cycle.
More than $200 million has been raised to support or oppose Proposition 27 — a measure that would legalize online and mobile sports betting in the state — OpenSecrets found.
An additional $102 million has been raised for a separate ballot measure, Proposition 26, which would legalize sports betting in person at American Indian casinos.
Today, gambling is only permitted on horse races, at casinos owned and operated by Native American tribes, in cardrooms and the state lottery in California.
The two measures have pitted online gambling companies against wealthy Native American tribes.
Elsewhere around the country, Question 1 — a ballot measure passed by voters in Maine last year — raised a state record $78.9 million to support or oppose the campaign.
A seprate ballot measure in California, Proposition 29, has attracted almost $45 million in favor or opposed. The initiative would increase regulations at dialysis treatment centers and most of the money raised has come in opposition from dialysis treatment companies, OpenSecrets wrote.
The Associated Press contributed to this story,