Allen West's losing campaign spends eye popping $109 per vote

Patrick Murphy, left, Allen West


U.S. Rep. Allen West, the tea party freshman who lost his bid for a second term last month, was taking in money so fast during the last 20 days of the campaign that he couldn’t spend it all.

New campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show West took in more than $1.9 million from Oct. 18 through Nov. 6 – which means cash was pouring in at the rate of $3,908 an hour, 24/7, as the campaign approached its climax.

West ended up as the biggest South Florida loser. He was the only incumbent member of Congress from Broward and Palm Beach counties who was defeated – after spending $17.9 million for the 164,353 votes he received in the northern Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie County 18th Congressional District. That works out to $108.94 per vote, and it doesn’t count the millions of dollars more spent on his behalf by outside interest groups.

Contributors to Patrick Murphy, the Democratic political newcomer who defeated West, had a far better return on their campaign contributions.

Murphy spent $4.2 million (not counting outside spending on his behalf) and narrowly won the election with 166,257 votes. That works out to $25.05 per vote.

Both Murphy and West had primary campaigns, so some of the money they raised and spent was devoted to those August victories.

During the last 20 days of the campaign, West spent $92,500 on polling and more than $45,400 on those dreaded campaign season automated robo-calls that voters hate. Another bill, paid on Election Day, was $37.10 to Terminex for pest control.

His campaign reported spending $12,755 for election night rooms at the Best Western Plus in Stuart. Flowers for the event cost another $589 and balloons and flag rental cost $1,749. Four people were paid $280 each for election night security.

The Murphy campaign reported spending $5,644 for facility rental and catering for election night.

The candidates’ fundraising and spending was detailed in post-election campaign finance reports that were due at the federal elections agency by midnight Thursday. Campaigns typically file their reports electronically just before the deadline.

With the election ending in a close finish, and West contesting the results for two weeks with court challenges and recount demands, both campaigns continued raising and spending money after Election Day.

From Election Day through Nov. 26, Murphy raised $358, 740 and spent $136,302. During that same time, West raised $319,231 and spent $206,312.

Overall, for the entire campaign, West raised $19.1 million and Murphy took in $4.3 million. On Nov. 26, Murphy had $314,231 in the bank and West had a much more significant amount – more than $1.5 million – that can be used for future political activities.