OMAHA, Neb. — The mayoral race in Omaha this spring has set spending records.

Republican Mayor Jean Stothert and Democratic challenger Heath Mello spent about $3.8 million combined during the campaign, the Omaha World-Herald ( ) reported. It was the fourth time in the past six city elections that candidates have surpassed the previous spending record.

Outside groups, including Firefighters for Better Government, spent an additional $750,000 to sway voters.

Omaha residents can expect the cost of future mayor’s races to increase, said Paul Landow, a political science professor at University of Nebraska at Omaha.

“A few years ago a campaign contribution for $100 or $250 would’ve been considered a nice contribution that was meaningful and worthwhile,” he said. “Today a contribution like that doesn’t even register with the politician.”

Landow estimates the 2021 mayoral election could top $5 million. The influx of money into local elections follows a national trend, he said.

Stothert said she also expects high-cost races to continue.

“A real vibrant TV campaign is real expensive,” she said. “And it’s really what you need to do now.”

Stothert won re-election with just over 52,500 votes compared to Mello’s more than 46,700 votes.

Mello said he was proud of his campaign.

“I think we are able to make it a competitive race by raising as much money as we did,” he said.

Stothert’s stop donor was Swain Construction, a company that does business with the city. Mello’s top donor was Johanna Lutton, chief marketing officer of real estate company OTB Destination.

Donations paid the payroll for campaign employees, printing and postage for mailers and television advertising.

Information from: Omaha World-Herald,