Editorial by Chad Hobbs
Stacy Crosslin has been a teacher for the Meade County School District for many years and recently ran in the Democrat primary, earlier this year. Before I go any further, I am going to allow Mrs. Crosslin to explain, in her own words, her experiences that led up to this article. Like Crosslin, I have great concerns with campaign finance laws. I also feel this may serve as a great example of how two people that may be registered on opposite sides of the political aisle really aren’t that different at our core. As a great friend of mine likes to say, “At least 75 percent of the time, at least 75 percent of us, agree.”
“For my entire adult life, I have always tried to keep up-to-date on politics at the local, state, and national levels. I always exercise my right to vote and try to be the most informed voter that I can be. However, when it came to campaign finance laws, I always thought they were more of a national issue. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
After I filed my intent to run for House of Representatives for District 27, I immediately had to declare my fundraising intent for the primary cycle. My two choices were … raising under $3,000 or raising over $3,000. I thought about this for a moment. District 27 comprises Meade County and the northern portion of Hardin County, mainly Muldraugh and north Radcliff. My husband and I had both been residents of Meade County for the past twenty-seven years. We both were school teachers for Meade County Schools and had raised our three children here. Meade County had one local paper and one local radio station. The answer was pretty obvious to me: of course I could spread news about my campaign and get my message out to voters for under $3,000. It seemed like a no-brainer.
Over the next five months, my campaign team and I worked extremely hard at fundraising for the things we thought we needed … political flyers, yard signs, political mailers, campaign banners, newspaper ads, and radio spots. We managed to raise right around $3,500 from individual donations averaging $50 per donation. This caused me to have to change my initial filing status. I then received two $2,000 donations from two education PACS. With $7,500 in campaign funds, I had more than doubled my initial estimates of what running for office would take. Little did I know that I was far behind what my primary opponent raised, and not even in the same ballpark with what recent general election contests cost.
Running for office inspired me to dig deeper into campaign fundraising. I wondered if it had always required so much money to run for a local office. If so, where did the money come from? Did most of the money come from local sources or sources outside of the district? I started collecting information at the website followthemoney.org, researching previous races for House District 27. What I found out amazed me. This is when I decided to reach out to Chad Hobbs at the Meade County Messenger and see if he was interested in writing a story about campaign finance laws and how they have dramatically affected campaign fundraising over the past twenty years in our local community,” writes Stacey Crosslin.
I have long held the belief that money was one of the sole factors that leads to such terrible candidates on both sides of the aisle on a national level. Like Crosslin, I was totally naive to how much outside money had trickled down to local races as well. In the coming weeks, we will look at how a Supreme Court ruling helped transform campaign finance, and the effects that has had, including turning the 27th district race for state representative from an $8,800 election in 2000 to one that in 2018 spilled over $300,000 into the contest.