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Candidates raise, spend little in quiet election cycle

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Indiana's 2014 election cycle may lack the marquee battles of two years ago, but candidates are still racking up dollars ahead of November's elections.

Candidates facing off for the state treasurer, auditor and secretary of state's offices had an average of a few hundred thousand dollars on hand each through the latest filing period, which ended at the start of the month. In the three statewide races, Republicans hold an easy fundraising edge over their Democratic opponents.

Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson ended the period with $525,000 in cash on hand, compared with Democratic opponent Beth White's $195,000.

Republican Auditor Suzanne Crouch had $336,000 in the bank compared with Democrat Mike Claytor's $57,000. And the Republican candidate for treasurer, Kelly Mitchell, had $58,000 in the bank compared with Democrat Mike Boland's $292.

The story's the same in the state House and Senate races. The latest reports had not yet been filed by the House and Senate campaign committees, but numbers tallied through April give a good idea where each campaign stands. House Republicans began April with $1.2 million in the bank and Democrats entered the stretch with $431,000. In the Senate, Republicans began April with $1 million in the bank and Democrats had $150,000 socked away.

"You have to have enough money. You don't have to have the most money, and the money needs to come at the right time," said Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

At this point in the campaign, most candidates are still identifying who their supporters are and where they need to be targeting their messages, Downs said. Midterm elections, like this year's, won't draw huge fundraising tallies, he said, but candidates will still be looking for targeted spending on mailers and other items.

One of the more novel expenditures this cycle came from Crouch, who spent $16,000 on signs and red-rimmed plastic glasses. Crouch's supporters sported the glasses at the Republican Party convention in Fort Wayne last month.

The 2014 election cycle has been remarkably tame compared to just two years ago, which saw intense competitions over a U.S. Senate seat and the governor's office.

The high-profile battles translated into major spending from Republicans and Democrats, who flooded the airwaves with advertising.

The only state candidate to go up on air this cycle was House Education Chairman Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, who was facing what appeared to be a tough primary battle earlier this year. Behning handily won his May primary challenge. Downs said not to expect much in the way of television advertising this cycle.

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