Mo. Gov. Nixon spent $15.5M on re-election

David a. Lieb, Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon spent $15.5 million on his re-election campaign and still has hundreds of thousands of dollars left over that he could put toward an inaugural celebration or save for the future.

Campaign finance reports filed Thursday with the Missouri Ethics Commission show Nixon's fundraising committee had a balance of more than $413,000 at the start of December, significantly more than any of the other winners of statewide offices in Missouri.

Nixon is barred by term limits from running again for governor. Last month, Nixon changed his fundraising committee to indicate he is seeking an unspecified statewide office in 2016 and to give it a new name — "A Better Missouri With Governor Jay Nixon."

The re-designation allows Nixon to continue raising and spending money through a committee that can be tracked by the public. It doesn't mean Nixon has his eyes set on running for some other state office, such as lieutenant governor or attorney general. Federal campaign finance rules would prohibit Nixon from transferring the money in a state committee to a separate committee for federal office, if he were to form one.

"After seeking guidance from the Ethics Commission, we felt this was the most open and transparent way to raise money for the governor's inauguration and for expenses related to his elective office," said Nixon campaign manager Oren Shur.

During his 2009 inaugural festivities, Nixon actually made a profit, raising more than $610,000 and spending only a little over $200,000. He kept the rest of that money for future campaign expenses.

Nixon's most recent report shows he raised $16.1 million and spent $15.5 million during the 2012 election cycle, which includes not only the last few months of intense campaigning, but the past several years since his last election.

In the Nov. 6 elections, Nixon defeated Republican businessman Dave Spence, who gave or loaned his gubernatorial campaign $6.6 million, more than half the total amount that he raised and spent. Spence's post-election finance report shows a debt of $4.6 million. He could seek donations to repay himself, or could simply write off the loans.

The amount of money remaining in Nixon's account after the election was greater than that for any other candidates for statewide office.

Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster, who won a second term against Republican Ed Martin, had the next largest balance at nearly $143,000.

Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who won a third term by turning back Democrat Susan Montee, reported a balance of nearly $67,000.

Democratic Treasurer Clint Zweifel, who won a second term against Republican Rep. Cole McNary, reported more than $28,000 remaining in his campaign account.

Democratic Rep. Jason Kander, who won election as secretary of state over Republican Rep. Shane Schoeller, had a little more than $5,100 left in his account as of Dec. 1.