Republicans Outraising Dems with Record-Breaking Hauls by Legislative Leaders

August 2, 2018

Cash

The four legislative campaign committees in Wisconsin are hauling in money at a record clip, with the two Republican ones far outdistancing their Democratic counterparts, according to a review by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Between January and June, the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate raised about $719,000 versus the $470,000 that the State Senate Democratic Committee brought in (See Table below). And the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee raised about $734,000 versus the $505,000 that the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee did.

The differences were even greater when you look at their cash balances. The Committee to Elect a Republican Senate has more than four times as much money on hand as its Democratic counterpart. And the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee has eight times as much money on hand as the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee.

Combined, the four committees, which are used by their legislative leaders to raise cash from special interests, brought in more than $2.4 million between January and June, smashing by 51 percent the previous record of $1.6 million set in the first half of 2016.

Table
Legislative Campaign Committee Fundraising
January – June 2018

Committee Fundraising Cash Balance
Committee to Elect a Republican Senate $719,642 $1,332,570
Republican Assembly Campaign Committee $733,879 $1,125,616
State Senate Democratic Committee $470,025 $301,711
Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee $505,151 $141,398
TOTAL $2,428,697 $2,901,295

The record pace at which the four LCCs now operate are the result of sweeping changes to campaign finance laws enacted in 2015 by Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled legislature. Those changes now allow political parties and the four LCCs to accept contributions from corporations for the first time in more than 100 years.

Overall, Republican legislative candidate and fundraising committees raised more than their Democratic counterparts, but not by much. However, Republican legislative candidates had sharply more cash in their campaign accounts than Democrats, as of June 30.

Senate and Assembly Republicans raised a total of $1.8 million and had nearly $4.2 million in their campaign accounts on June 30. Meanwhile, Democrats accepted nearly $1.7 million in campaign contributions during the first six months of 2018 and had just over $1.7 million in their campaign accounts on June 30.

After the four LCCs, the top candidate fundraisers and those with the highest cash balances on June 30 were generally legislative leaders, candidates vying for open seats, or officeholders in targeted races.

The top fundraisers were:

Republican Sen. Howard Marklein, of Spring Green, $164,426

Republican Senate President Roger Roth, of Appleton, $133,659

GOP Rep. Kathy Bernier, of Chippewa Falls, who is a candidate in the open 23 rd Senate District race, $116,307

Democrat Kriss Marion, of Blanchardville, who is challenging Marklein, $93,760

Democrat Julie Henszey, of Wauwatosa, who is a candidate in the open 5 th Senate District race, $75,478

The candidates with the highest cash balances on June 30 were:

Marklein, $433,396

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau, $309,978

Roth, $282,187

GOP Rep. Dale Kooyenga, of Brookfield, who faces Henszey for the open 5 th Senate District seat, $275,787

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, of Burlington, $229,859

The fundraising figures in this report do not include the first five weeks of campaign activity by legislative candidates involved in January special elections or any campaign activity by legislative candidates in special elections held in June.