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The Cost of Campaigning in Rapid City, S.D.

Levitt and I had the pleasure of visiting Rapid City, S.D., recently to give a lecture. Yes, we had time to visit Mount Rushmore, a good time made all the better by our charismatic tour guide, National Park Service Superintendent Gerard Baker (Yellow Wolf), the very tall gentleman between us here:


We also had occasion to meet a phalanx of Rapid City notables, including Mayor Alan Hanks. The downside of his office, he said, is that he has to run for election every two years; among the upsides is that campaigning isn’t very expensive. He said it cost only $70,000 the last time around.
Considering that the mayor’s salary is about $95,000, that’s a pretty sweet ratio. Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York spent $85 million last time around and receives only $1 in salary (although he’s entitled to $225,000); it cost Barack Obama $730 million to get elected, for a salary of just $400,000. In terms of R.O.I., Rapid City politics look like a pretty good deal.