The 2014 elections’ biggest IOUs

Head and shoulder shot of Tom MacArthur, bald man with salt and pepper goatee wearing dark suit jacket, white shirt and blue and yellow print tie
Rep.-elect Tom MacArthur’s campaign tops the post-election debtors’ list. (Photo credit: MacArthur campaign)


It’s been less than 48 hours since polls closed in the midterm elections, but for some candidates it’s high time to get back on the fundraising horse.

In the most expensive midterm cycle of all time, many candidates borrowed heavily to keep their congressional hopes afloat. As of the most recent filings available with the Federal Elections Commission, which cover through the end of the third quarter and — for most candidates — the first two weeks of October, the campaign committees of this year’s candidates for Congress collectively owed $100 million.

We found a total of $74,249,398 owed by the campaigns of 494 candidates for the House of Representatives:

While the campaigns of 101 candidates for Senate owed $27,314,682:

Most campaigns that took on debts weren’t rewarded for their efforts. Sunlight found 182 losing candidates with $50,000 or more in reported debts.

Atop of the red ink leader board: 22 committees that owed $1 million or more in their most recent financial reports. Most of the biggest debtors, however, owe money to the candidates they represent.

Take Congressman-elect Tom MacArthur for example, a Republican who won Rep. John Runyan’s old seat in southern New Jersey. A wealthy former executive of a risk management firm, MacArthur dug into his own pockets to fuel his campaign in Jersey’s Third District, where the tight general election between MacArthur and Aimee Belgard pushed total spending in that race to over $10.5 million dollars.

Now MacArthur’s campaign committee owes him $5 million.

Other candidates who poured millions into their campaign, include former Fortune 500 CEO Mark M. Jacobs, who ran for Senate in Iowa and Paul Mitchell III in Michigan’s 4th District and Matthew Doheny in New York’s 21st District. All of them lost and, like MacArthur, have seven-figure debts to show for it. But unlike MacArthur, they will have to try to recoup their losses without the benefits of incumbency and the debt retirement parties it brings.

Candidates who have ascended Capitol Hill now have the added fundraising caché belonging to a member of Congress, making them a bigger target for beltway PACs and lobbyists.

An invitation collected by Political Party Time show that the biennial post-election ritual has already begun.

Tom Cotton, a new Republican addition to the Senate from Arkansas, is asking Washington supporters for $500 to $5,000 for admission to a fundraiser at Johnny’s Half Shell, a favorite cash-raising haunt of members of Congress.

The figures in the tables above reflect the loans reported as of the committee’s most recent report to the Federal Election Commission. Candidate committees are not required to file a “pre-election” report if the candidate did not advance to the general election.

Visit Sunlight’s Real-Time Federal Campaign Finance tracker to see House and Senate summary pages for the most up-to-date campaign figures.