Report: Fewer Candidates Vying For Office In Mass.

A new report is raising concerns that Massachusetts political races are becoming more expensive and less competitive.

The state Office of Campaign and Political Finance found that winning candidates outspent their rivals two to one in 2008, while the fewest candidates ran for State House seats since OCPF began keeping track in 1990.

The findings are alarming to Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. "We in Massachusetts are typically tied for last in the nation for political competition, particularly for our legislative races," she said. "That's not good for democracy."

Wilmot noted that incumbents who raise the most money are the least likely to face challengers. In 200 legislative races in 2008, only four incumbents failed to win reelection, including Senators Dianne Wilkerson and James Marzilli, who were dogged by scandals.

At the same time, the amount of money spent on political campaigns rose by 5.6 percent from 2006, to a total of $12.5 million, according to the OCPF report.

The record for campaign funds spent last year was nearly $476,000, by former House Speaker Sal DiMasi, who was recently indicted on corruption charges. He was running unopposed.

Wilmot added that she believes recent political scandals and the current economic crisis may make more candidates willing to throw their hats in the ring.

This program aired on June 15, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.


More from WBUR

Listen Live