SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Election

November 2, 2010

Campaign season busy, costly

North Shore ponied up millions for state candidates before vote

North Shore activists and corporations have pumped more than $2.5 million into state and federal political campaigns this election cycle, according to finance reports.

The polls close across Massachusetts at 8 tonight, capping a campaign season that has been busy, often negative and very costly.

A look at campaign finance reports shows that the North Shore spent nearly $1.7 million to fund state campaigns, including candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and state representative, as well as committees for and against the three statewide ballot questions.

The region also contributed $856,264 to federal campaigns, mainly the congressional race between Democrat John Tierney and Republican Bill Hudak. But residents also donated money to help congressional candidates in other districts, even out-of-state campaigns.

"With the rise of Facebook and social networking sites and the ability for campaigns to get out to people, it becomes a little easier to donate than in the past," said Salem State University political science professor Dan Mulcare. "That's why I would think these are fairly robust figures."

The donations to state races mark a slight increase from four years ago. That year, the North Shore contributed $1.58 million to state races, including the governor's contest between Democrat Deval Patrick and Republican Kerry Healey and a ballot question to allow the sale of wine at grocery stores. (That figure, however, does not include approximately $9.4 million in donations that Healey made to her own campaign that year).

Marblehead political activists had the deepest pockets on the North Shore this year, pouring $447,052 into campaigns. Swampscott, Republican Charlie Baker's hometown, donated $316,680, most of it to state campaigns.

Danvers saw some of the largest single-party donations. Merrimack Valley Distributing donated $41,820 to the Vote Yes on One Committee, which supports repealing a sales tax on alcohol. Seaboard Products Co., another Danvers alcohol distributor, contributed $31,980 to support Question 1.

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