2006 Election Notes and Background
Democratic Governor James E. Doyle Jr. won reelection to a second four-year term in the November 2006 general election, capturing 53 percent of the vote against Republican challenger Mark Green who got 45 percent. In 2002, Doyle became the first Democrat elected governor in 20 years. He won with 45 percent of the vote, defeating incumbent Republican Governor Scott McCallum who received 41 percent and a field of third party candidates who collected 14 percent.
Before becoming governor, Doyle was elected to three four-year terms as Wisconsin’s attorney general starting in 1990. Doyle is a former Dane County District Attorney and Peace Corps volunteer. Born November 23, 1945 in Washington DC, Doyle comes from a family that has been prominent in Democratic Party politics for several decades.
Doyle raised $10.57 million from 2003-06, more than any other candidate for governor in a four-year cycle. He finished the cycle with a balance of $38,816 in his campaign account.
Doyle accepted most of his special interest contributions – $1.65 million – from lawyers, a traditional backer of Democratic candidates, particularly candidates who are lawyers like Doyle.
The rest of Doyle’s top special interest contributors resemble a roster you would see for Republican candidates. Construction, real estate, banking, business and manufacturing are among Doyle’s top 10 most generous special interest backers. Labor unions, another traditional backer of Democratic candidates, were 13th among the 24 special interests that supported Doyle in the 2006 election cycle. They gave him $331,332 from 2003-06, compared to nearly $522,000 in 1999-02 when they were No. 2 among his special interest supporters.
Doyle was criticized frequently during his reelection campaign about the character of some of his large individual contributors, as well as the timing of some of those contributions. Much of that fodder came from earlier reviews of his campaign reports by WDC and the media
The governor received thousands of dollars from numerous owners or executives with travel, technology, real estate, consulting and other companies shortly before or after they were awarded with state business worth millions of dollars.
In early 2007 shortly after his reelection, millionaire Kenosha businessman Dennis Troha, who along with his family is Doyle’s all-time largest contributor, was federally charged with campaign finance law violations for funneling contributions through family members to the Democratic party, Doyle and President Bush. Until then Troha had been a major force behind construction of an $800 million mega casino by the Menomonie Indians. Troha later agreed to plead guilty to charges he funneled contributions through family members to Bush and the Democratic Party.
Doyle also has received more out-of-state support than any other Wisconsin candidate for governor before him. Doyle accepted $1.8 million in large individual contributions from outside of Wisconsin from 2003-06, including $1.1 million alone in the 2006 election year. In one six-month period, from January to June 2006, when Doyle raised $1.54 million he accepted an astonishing 32 percent, or $488,067, of it from out-of-state special interests.
By contrast, former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson, the state’s most prolific political fundraiser before Doyle, received $1.18 million in out-of-state contributions during his last eight years in office, from 1993 through 2000.
Doyle raised $603,083 (before returns) from political action committees (PACs) and party and candidate committees from 2003-06, accounting for 6 percent of his total fundraising.
Labor union PACs topped the list with $181,826 in contributions to Doyle’s reelection campaign, followed by political and ideological committees which gave him $133,418 and telecommunications and high tech industry PACs which doled out $65,957.
Candidate and Committee Spending
The 2006 governor’s race set new spending records by the candidates and outside special interest groups. The candidates, issue ad and independent expenditure groups doled out $32.3 million in the 2006 race compared to the previous record $23.5 million in candidate and outside special interest spending in the 2002 governor’s race.
The candidates and their running mates spent $19.8 million, including $10.6 million by Doyle. That is only slightly more than all of the candidates for governor and their running mates spent in the 2002 elections.
The sharp increase in spending in 2006 race was due mainly to outside special interests who peppered voters for months with negative television and radio ads and mailings about Doyle and Green. Issue ad and independent expenditure groups spent $12.5 million in the race – triple what they spent in the 2002 governor’s race.
Leading the pack of special interests that engaged in undisclosed electioneering activities were four issue ad groups that each spent $1 million or more to support or oppose Green and Doyle.
The Greater Wisconsin Committee, a Democratic group that got most of its money from out-of-state labor unions, spent more than $4 million on mostly negative radio and television advertisements about Green.
The three others were pro-Republican groups that sponsored mostly negative radio and TV ads against Doyle. The Republican Governors Association and All Children Matter, a pro-school voucher group, spent more than $3 million combined in mostly out-of-state money to pay for ads that accused Doyle and his administration of doing state favors for big campaign contributors and other corrupt practices. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business group, spent $1.5 million on a television ads that said Doyle’s tax policies hurt business and job creation.