- Associated Press - Sunday, December 14, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - New campaign-contribution limits added up to millions of additional dollars for some candidates in Arizona’s election last month.

Gov.-elect Doug Ducey and his opponent, Democrat Fred DuVal, were among the candidates in the election cycle that ended in November who exceeded old state contribution limits thanks to campaign finance law enacted last year.

In all, state-level candidates raised more than $18 million in the last election cycle. These candidates would have raised about $9.5 million from individual donations under the old limits, according to an analysis by the Arizona Capitol Times (https://bit.ly/1xbI0FN).

Ducey accounted for nearly one-fourth of the additional funds. The former Cold Stone Creamery CEO brought in more than $4 million from outside donors. About half of that was above the previous contribution limits. The extra money included $760,000 during a six-candidate Republican primary.

DuVal was the second-highest beneficiary under the new limits. He generated $3.3 million in contributions. Of that, more than $1.1 million surpassed the previous limits.

Candidates before were allowed to accept $912 for statewide races and $440 for legislative races. But Gov. Jan Brewer signed off on Republican-backed legislation that dramatically increased finance limits. Now, individuals can give up to $4,000 to a campaign.

State Rep. J.D. Mesnard, a Republican from Chandler who sponsored the legislation, said the new limits allow people to give to candidates directly. Furthermore, candidates would not be obligated to outside groups.

“They are in control of their own message that voters are hearing from the person that they are going to either vote for or against. And that is good,” Mesnard said.

Some, however, have argued the heightened contribution limits will ultimately just benefit incumbents. Robbie Sherwood, executive director of liberal advocacy group ProgressNow Arizona, said more money will only further empower special interest groups. “I think it confirms our worst fears when people were arguing against raising the limits,” Sherwood said.

Judging by this recent election, the infusion of funds did not guarantee a victory. According to the Arizona Capitol Times, six of the top 10 legislative candidates who benefited and received more money lost their races. Three of the top 10 statewide candidates who benefited actually won their contests.

It may take several more election cycles to gauge the impact of the new limits, Mesnard said.


Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, https://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com

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