Election 2017

Larry Krasner and George Soros spent $33 per vote to win the Philly DA race

Seth Williams spent $128,000 and dropped out.

Democratic nominee for District Attorney Larry Krasner

Democratic nominee for District Attorney Larry Krasner

Screenshot via YouTube

To help Larry Krasner win the Democratic Primary for District Attorney last month, billionaire George Soros spent nearly $1.7 million. But unlike many others in the District Attorney’s race, he didn’t waste his money. He got some bang for his buck.

Numbers that recently became available on the City Controller’s website after candidates turned in their last campaign finance reports show that in the District Attorney’s race, which drew about 17 percent turnout, candidates and PACs spent a total of just under $5.3 million. Nearly 155,000 votes were cast, meaning the average cost per vote was $34.

The combination of money spent by Krasner’s campaign and Soros’ PAC was $1.9 million, which put the Democratic primary winner at $33 per vote for the 59,000 he captured, just under the average, and a way better than a couple of his opponents.

Michael Untermeyer, a millionaire, spent $1.3 million of mostly his own money. For the massive expenditure, all he got were 12,700 votes and a fifth-place finish. His average cost per vote was $104.

Jack O’Neill and his union benefactors also spent a lot of money for nothing. The Building a Better Pennsylvania PAC expended $320,000 on him, and his own operation spent another $133,000. He ended up with 9,246 votes, for an average cost of $49 per vote.

The $5.3 million spent by all the candidates and their PACs was nearly three times as much as was spent in the last competitive DA’s race in 2009. The average cost per vote then — when 50,000 fewer votes were cast — was about $18.

Here’s how the candidates finished, as well as the average amount each of their votes cost based on spending of their own campaign and of outside PACs. Krasner and O’Neill were the main beneficiaries of outside PAC spending.

CandidateTotal Spent ($)Total VotesAverage cost of vote ($)
Larry Krasner/Soros PAC1,986,11159,36833
Joe Khan797,58731,48025
Rich Negrin411,34222,04819
Tariq El-Shabazz110,59818,0406
Michael Untermeyer1,316,37012,709104
Jack O'Neill/Local 98 PAC454,1609,24649
Teresa Carr-Deni71,3182,33531
Seth Williams128,232N/AN/A

As you can see on the bottom of the chart, one candidate who didn’t end up running got even less return for his cash. Seth Williams and his PAC spent about $128,000 on the race. The PAC even had roughly $4,000 reported as being spent during the final campaign period, after Williams had said he would not seek re-election.

For those totaling at home, that’s $128K for zero votes.


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