Illinois’ congressional candidates raised $68.3 million in contributions during this election cycle, more than any other cycle, based on federal data.
That’s a 35 percent increase from the $50.6 million raised during the 2016 election cycle, based on a Sun-Times analysis of Federal Election Commission data. The previous record was the $56.5 million raised in 2014.
The figures exclude millions that outside political groups have also spent in the races. From Oct. 27 to Nov. 2, outside groups reported $4.9 million in spending in Illinois House races to the FEC.
At the heart of this election’s surge are four tight races, two of which are in the expensive Chicago media market.
Two downstate races are also drawing large sums of money. In the 12th District, Democratic challenger Brendan Kelly raised $3.4 million to incumbent Republican Mike Bost’s $2.6 million. In the 13th District, Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan raised $3.6 million to incumbent Rodney Davis’ $3.2 million.
WATCH: During a livestream discussion on money and politics, Alisa Kaplan, policy director of Reform for Illinois, talks to Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet about the trends this year in Illinois campaign financing. She says we are seeing more use of a loophole in state campaign finance rules that has allowed huge amounts of money to come into political committees from mega-donors, which is then gifted to down-ballot candidates.