Where the Money Is in the 10th Senate Special Election

January 12, 2018

Cash Stuffed in Ballot Box

Candidates are in the final days of campaigning for next Tuesday’s 10th Senate District special election, so here’s a rundown on the money raised by the candidates and the activities and spending by outside groups.

The special election pits Republican Rep. Adam Jarchow, of Balsam Lake, against Democrat Patty Schachtner, of Somerset, who is St. Croix County’s medical examiner. The election was called after longtime GOP Sen. Sheila Harsdorf resigned her northwestern Wisconsin Senate seat last month to become Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s agriculture secretary.

Most of the spending by the candidates and groups has been for radio, digital and television advertisements and mailings.

The latest campaign finance reports show Jarchow and Schachtner raised nearly $450,000 and spent about $340,000 as of Jan. 1. The bulk of the candidates’ fundraising – check it out here and here – came from their respective state parties, partisan legislative candidate and fundraising committees, and special interest political action committees.

In addition to the candidates, at least four special interest groups – one Democratic and three Republican – have interfered in the election. Here’s how:

Greater Wisconsin Committee’s independent expenditure arm reported spending $30,000 on digital ads to support Schachtner and oppose Jarchow;

Wisconsin Homeowners Alliance, which is affiliated with the Wisconsin Realtors Association, has sponsored two mailings – here and here – that praised Jarchow, claiming he has backed legislation to make houses more affordable and reduce income and property taxes;

Americans for Prosperity has sponsored 60-second radio and 15-second digital advertisements supporting Jarchow. The advertisements claim Jarchow supported policies that created jobs and cut taxes for families and small businesses;

Republican State Leadership Committee has sponsored a 60-second radio ad and a mailing that accused Schachtner of wasteful spending and supporting higher taxes.

The Republican groups are phony issue ad outfits that refuse to disclose their fundraising and spending activities. Greater Wisconsin’s activities are disclosed, but the group has frequently sponsored phony issue ads in past elections.

Americans for Prosperity, a rightwing electioneering group created by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, was created to support Republican and conservative candidates for federal, state and local offices around the country. Since January 2010, the group has spent an estimated $5.7 million on Wisconsin legislative and statewide elections.

The Republican State Leadership Committee is a Virginia-based group that supports Republican candidates for state and legislative offices in Wisconsin and around the country. Since January 2010, the group has spent more than $2.7 million on Wisconsin elections.

The Greater Wisconsin Committee uses four entities to support Democratic and liberal candidates for legislative and statewide offices. All told, the committee arms have spent more than $30 million on Wisconsin elections since January 2010.