The November 2006 general elections resulted in sweeping changes for the US Congress, as the Democratic Party won a majority in both houses of Congress—which the Ds haven't had since 1994. While we will shortly find out if the incoming Democratic Congressional majority will steer the US in a new direction, one thing's for sure: Their victory didn't come cheap. (Neither did defeat, for that matter.)
Over $1 billion, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), was spent by a number of people with myriad motives, trying to influence the outcome of the 2006 election. Oregon was no exception. Over $10 million was spent by residents of the state—people who were trying to either retain the Republican Congressional majority or give it the boot. Many of Oregon's wealthier and better-connected citizens participated in the national fracas of money slinging.
On the left side of the aisle, Rep. Earl Blumenauer's political action committee, the Committee for a Livable Future, doled out $257,380, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. While the committee used some money for administrative and fundraising costs, nearly $200,000 went to supporting the campaigns of 39 Democratic House Candidates—from places like New York, Texas, and California—who supported "building and maintaining livable communities." Eight candidates, facing competitive elections, received $10,000—the largest amount the committee handed out. Of the 39 candidates funded, 24 sailed to victory.
Developer and former chair of the Portland Development Commission John Russell, of Russell Development, also spent plenty of money on several Democratic congressional candidates—$67,700, to be precise, including $2,000 to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Perhaps to balance out efforts from folks like Blumenauer and Russell Oregon also had large donors on the Republican end of the spectrum.
Janet and Richard Geary—Richard Geary is the former president of the Kiewit Pacific Company, and the couple founded the Richard and Janet Geary Foundation, which contributes to causes like Write Around Portland—collectively contributed $149,700 to a variety of Republican candidates in the last election cycle. Their beneficiaries included local Republican incumbents Senator Gordon Smith and Rep. Greg Walden. They also gave to James Feldkamp and Derrick Kitts, who both unsuccessfully attempted to unseat incumbent Oregon Democrats.
The couple also contributed the maximum $2,100 each to Republican candidates in the politically pivotal states of Virginia and Rhode Island, and they donated $50,000 each to the Republican National Committee and a total of $1,000 to the state party. Additionally, they gave $10,000 to the anti-tax Club for Growth.
Richard Geary was a donor to George Bush's '04 campaign, and also gave lavishly to the Republican National Committee in recent years ["You Down with GOP?" News, July 29, 2004].
Another Oregon couple that worked to retain the Republican majority in Congress was Joan and George Austin, the owners of Newberg, OR company A-Dec, which produces dental equipment. Together the couple gave out $143,850, according to the FEC—all to the Republicans, with the exception of Democratic Rep. David Wu, who represents their district.
Sizable donations went to incumbents Smith ($3,000) and Walden ($2,000 from each). Other donations included $22,500 to the Oregon Republican Party and $102,000 for the GOP. The couple each contributed the $2,100 maximum amount allowable under law, to the doomed campaigns of Senators Mike DeWine, of Ohio, and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.