Kentucky's general election is still months away and already Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes are shattering state fundraising records. Together, they've raised nearly 30 million dollars with millions coming from outside the commonwealth.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which accounts for every dollar coming in and out of every congressional race in the country, if you want to follow the money in this race, you have to travel well outside of Kentucky.
"In any kind of close senate race you will see candidates taking in huge sums of money from the wealthier regions of the country, and the reason is people in those regions have a lot to gain from someone who can respond to their phone calls," says Director of Research Sarah Bryner.
Who outside of the commonwealth is donating these large sums of money to Alison Lundergan Grimes? According to a McConnell campaign spokesperson: "The very same ultra-rich liberal elite who bankrolled Barack Obama into the White House are pulling out all the stops for Alison Lundergan Grimes."
Not to be outdone, a spokesperson for the Grimes campaign had this to say about money McConnell received from donors in our nation's capital: "Despite being this cycle's #1 recipient of Washington lobbyists cash, Mitch McConnell is quickly learning that the more Washington spends, the more Kentuckians turn away."
So what happens after the November election? What, if anything, does the senator-elect owe to wealthy campaign donors?
"The question of money coming from outside a certain region is one of access and one of accountability," adds Bryner.
That's the bottom line, that the winner in Kentucky's senate race is going to have to make himself or herself accessible and accountable to people who don't live anywhere near the commonwealth. That's the impact outside money has in politics.
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