Democratic and Republican party leaders are pouring money into the hotly contested 98th District Illinois House race, the latest campaign finance reports show.

Democratic and Republican party leaders are pouring money into the hotly contested 98th District Illinois House race, the latest campaign finance reports show.

More than 80 percent of the cash raised by Democrat Charles Landers of Bunker Hill since July 1 came from the Illinois Democratic Party, controlled by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

Republican Wayne Rosenthal of Morrisonville is getting similar help from his party leader, with more than 60 percent of the cash he’s raised since July 1 coming from campaign funds controlled by House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego.

That’s only counting the cash. Both parties have run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in in-kind contributions, cases where contributors pay directly for staff help, mailings, advertising costs and other campaign expenses.

Records show Rosenthal has received more than $110,000 in in-kind contributions since July 1, the bulk of it from the Cross campaign funds and the state Republican Party. Landers got more than $263,000 in in-kind services, mostly paid by the state Democratic Party.

Monday was the deadline for campaigns to file reports with the State Board of Elections detailing fundraising from July 1 until early October. Campaigns must also report contributions over $500 within two days of receiving them during the month leading up to the election.

Landers, a former Macoupin County coroner, reported raising more than $774,000 in cash since July 1. More than $650,000 of that came from the state Democratic Party.

Rosenthal, meanwhile, reported raising more than $466,000 in cash since July 1, with more than $294,000 of that coming from campaign committees controlled by Cross.

Landers and Rosenthal are vying to be elected in a district long represented by Democrat Gary Hannig of Litchfield. Hannig left to become secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation. Hannig’s wife took over the seat, but is not running for re-election. The district, generally south of Springfield, includes the communities of Taylorville, Hillsboro and Carlinville.

Kent Redfield, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois Springfield and an expert in campaign finance, said both parties obviously see the seat as a toss-up and are willing to spend the money needed to win it.

“Given the way campaign finance has developed in the state, where all of the money runs through the leaders, places where districts are competitive are going to be dominated by money from the legislative leaders,” Redfield said. “The downstate districts become real battlegrounds. They are going to be very expensive. The majority of the money is coming in from outside the districts.”

The problem, said Redfield, is the money makes a candidate beholden to the leader who gave it.

“It makes you more dependent on the leaders,” he said.

Campaign finance reforms set to go into effect Jan. 1 don’t restrict the amount of money leadership committees can pass on to candidates. Both Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and his opponent in the governor’s race, Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said they favor placing limits on the amount of money that can be passed through from legislative leaders.

Not all of the cash contributions came from legislative leaders. Rosenthal got $20,000 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and $30,000 from the Illinois Education Association. He received another $10,000 from the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

Landers pulled in $10,000 from the Illinois Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The legislative leaders are taking no interest in the 99th District House race that covers the bulk of the city of Springfield.

Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, a lawmaker since 1995, held a commanding fundraising lead over his opponent, Democrat Kent DeLay of Springfield, even before the latest reports were filed. Poe had more than $103,000 at the end of June and added nearly $43,000 to it. None of the money came from party leaders. His largest contributors were the Illinois Education Association, which gave $10,000, and AFSCME, which donated $5,000.

DeLay, meanwhile, reported adding $600 to the $524 balance in his account on June 30, with $500 coming from the Sangamon County Democratic Party.

Another closely contested area race pits Sen. Deanna Demuzio, D-Carlinville, against Republican Sam McCann of Carlinville. Neither had filed pre-election reports by Monday afternoon.

Doug Finke can be reached at 788-1527.