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D.C. Region Spends Millions On Political Campaigns

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Combined with Virginia and Maryland, the D.C. region is spending the most on this year's campaigns.
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Combined with Virginia and Maryland, the D.C. region is spending the most on this year's campaigns.

It's a cold rainy night in Derry, N.H., but that isn't stopping politically active people from the Granite state from coming out to a congressional debate between incumbent Republican Charlie Bass and Democrat Ann Kuster.

Since the presidential primary, voters here have been inundated with political ads, many of which are funded by dollars coming from the Washington, D.C. region. So many attendees at this second district debate, such as Bruce Pearlow, say they're happy to turn off the mudslinging ads for an evening.

"I'd like to see more debate on the issues, and there are issues," says Pearlow.

Washington may be small, but with contributions topping $230 million, its residents, lobbying firms and other organizations have given the third most of any state. Combined with Virginia and Maryland, the region is by far spending the most on this year's elections, according to OpenSecrets.org, a website tracking information on federal campaign contributions.

Bill Allison of the watchdog group the Sunlight Foundation says it's no surprise to him.

"The industry of Washington is government, and being able to influence that government is critical for a lot of the federal contractors and other organizations that are headquartered here that have a huge interest in federal policy," Allison says.

For all the anti-Washington rhetoric being lobbed around, analysts say today's politicians are dependent on the Washington establishment, for better and for worse.

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