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SPRINGFIELD -- A race for a seat in the Illinois Senate representing the Quad-Cities has become the most expensive legislative election in state history.

According to state campaign finance reports, the 36th Senate District battle between Democratic state Sen. Mike Jacobs of East Moline and Republican challenger Neil Anderson of Rock Island has topped the $3.5 million mark as the two hurtle toward the Nov. 4 election.

That figure, according to political scientist Kent Redfield, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois-Springfield, beats a record-breaking 2010 Senate race in which $2.7 million was raised in the contest in which Republican challenger Sam McCann of Carlinville beat then-state Sen. Deanna Demuzio.

The Jacobs-Anderson tilt comes just two years after Jacobs was involved in another expensive race, when more than $2 million was raised in his contest against Republican Bill Albrecht.

In an election season with just a handful of close legislative races, Republicans have been pouring money into the district, where Jacobs is viewed as a potentially weak foe after his heated race in 2012.

Redfield said just nine of the 19 Senate races are viewed as contested and only the Jacobs-Anderson match-up appears to be winnable for Republicans.

Most of Anderson's money has been funneled through the state Republican Party and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno's campaign accounts. In all, the GOP largesse of $1.1 million accounts for nearly 80 percent of Anderson's funding, Redfield found.

Democrats who control state government have helped Jacobs defend the seat once held by his father, Denny, by spending big bucks on the race and showering the district with projects, including an ongoing expansion of Western Illinois University and the extension of Amtrak rail service to the Quad-Cities.

The nearly $1.5 million Jacobs has received from the state Democratic Party and Senate President John Cullerton's campaign bankroll represents 72 percent of his total funding, Redfield's report notes.

In Central Illinois, the most expensive race is between state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, and Republican challenger Mike Bell of Edinburg. The $1.2 million raised in that race ranks in the Top Five most expensive races for House seats this year.

In the Senate, the second most expensive race is in the 48th district, where state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, is being challenged by Macon County Board member Linda Little.

In all, $1.7 million has been raised in the district, which includes parts of Decatur and Springfield, with Little receiving 92 percent of her money from Radogno and similar GOP sources.

Manar is relying on Cullerton and the party for just 13 percent of his finances.|(217) 782-4043


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