Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, spent 29 times as much money in his campaign last year as did his challenger, Democrat Brian Moss.
Such outspending and better fund raising by incumbents nationwide has Sen. David Boren, D-Okla., calling for campaign financing reform "to bring real democracy back into our election system."Boren released figures Thursday based on final reports of the Federal Election Commission that showed incumbents outspent challengers nationally last year by more than a 2-to-1 ratio and that political action committees gave more than 80 percent of their contributions to incumbents.
Boren said, "I believe the 1988 spending and PAC totals should convince everyone that the status quo is an `incumbency protection plan' for sitting senators and congressmen. I also believe these totals help explain why we continue to see 98 and 99 percent of members of Congress being re-elected."
Boren is sponsoring a bill - endorsed by Democratic Senate leaders - to establish voluntary spending limits based on a state's population. Candidates who choose to ignore those limits would have to carry disclaimers on ads saying they do not comply with voluntary limits.
An example of the disparity that Boren dislikes was the Senate race in Utah. Hatch spent $4.5 million compared with the mere $153,475 that Moss spent.
Had Boren's bill become law and his voluntary spending limits observed, Hatch would have had to spend $2.9 million less. Hatch spent the 10th most of the 33 winners of Senate races last year, even though he faced relatively minor opposition.
Boren said his research shows the average cost of a Senate campaign last year was $4.1 million, which is up 98 percent from 1982 and 570 percent from 1976.
Also, incumbents outspent challengers by a ratio of 2.3 to 1, with PACs giving to incumbents by a 4-to-1 ratio over challengers.