By the time Democratic County Commissioner Randy Horiuchi earns as much money as he spent during his 1990 campaign, it will almost be time to run again.
Horiuchi set a spending record on his way to a narrow victory over Republican Salt Lake County Commissioner Tom Shimizu last month, and runaway expenditures in all county races may prompt efforts to limit campaign spending in the future.Horiuchi's expenditures and outstanding debts totaled $111,368, more than anyone has ever spent in a race for the office, according to financial disclosure statements. Because a county commissioner earns $63,648 per year, it will take Horiuchi nearly two years to earn as much in office as he spent getting there.
Republican Commissioner Mike Stewart said Monday it is time to limit campaign spending and make it possible for many more people to run for office.
Stewart, whose term expires in 1992, said he wants to limit spending in local elections to 25 percent of the amount the candidate would earn during his entire term of office. He said such a limit would return debates and sound reasoning to campaigns that now are little more than slogans and catchy phrases.
"You really have people in the heat of the moment going out and mortgaging their homes to advertise more," Stewart said. "Winning office should not be a financial question."
Stewart said he senses the public is angry with excessive spending, and he said the need to attract donations often leads elected officials to be improperly influenced by big contributors.
"Some people go out and sell their souls. Contributions buy access, but access ought to be open to everyone," he said. "You have people running for office who can raise money but are not necessarily good decisionmakers."
Horiuchi's spending record edged the previous record of $97,171 set by Democrat Jim Bradley in an unsuccessful race in 1988. Shimizu, on the other hand, listed only $47,149 in expenditures.
Bradley got many more votes per dollar this year, spending only $75,784 in his landslide victory over incumbent Republican Bart Barker, who spent $77,498.
Stewart proposed spending limits about 10 years ago, but county attorneys advised him the limits could be seen as a violation of free-speech rights. Stewart said he hopes his new plan would avoid those concerns because the spending limit would be tied to the salary of the office and would not be arbitrary.
Barker, Malone fail to score
Republican Bart Barker lost his Salt Lake County Commission race despite a timely delivery from The Mailman.
Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone gave Barker $500 but failed to deliver him a victory against Democrat Jim Bradley.
Officials said Malone's contribution to Barker was his own idea and came after he attended a fund-raiser to autograph basketballs.