WASHINGTON – Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer outspent Republican opponent Don Devine about 3-to-1 in 1994, recent Federal Election Commission reports said.
One year of the Prince George’s County Democrat’s campaign cost $1.1 million, versus Devine’s $346,500.
Hoyer won the November election with 59 percent of the vote.
Devine, a political consultant who lives in Anne Arundel County, wasn’t surprised by the spending discrepancy.
“I knew I could never match him,” Devine said.
The director of the Office of Personnel Management under President Reagan said incumbents always have a financial edge.
In Hoyer’s case, Devine said, the advantage was sitting on influential House committees, which put him in a position to pressure groups for money, “especially the unions.”
About 60 percent of the contributions to Hoyer’s campaign, $599,100, came from special interests, or political action committees.
Devine received $60,900 in PAC money, less than one-fourth of his total contributions.
“It is true that Hoyer received more PAC contributions … but those who contributed to Hoyer believed in what he was doing and how he was representing his constituents,” said Hoyer press secretary Jesse Jacobs.
FEC figures through Oct. 19 showed that in the House, the average incumbent raised four times as much money as the challenger.
“Incumbents have an overwhelming advantage in getting their message out during the last month when most voters are starting to pay attention to the campaign,” said Jay Hedlund, a vice president of Common Cause, a public-interest lobbying group.
In 90 percent of the cases, the candidate with the most money wins, Hedlund said.
In 1994, the incumbent re-election rate was more than 90 percent for the House and Senate, he said.
“Although so many people talk about the turnover in Congress, financial advantage helped maintain incumbents in a year when change was sort of the by-word,” Hedlund said.
Although Hoyer’s next election is a year and a half away, he already has $172,600 in his war chest. Devine said he will not run again in 1996. His campaign finished the year with about $300 in the bank and a $500 debt. -30-