So Many Zeroes

In this update: 1. Money madness 2. Transportation amendment's not-so-hidden origins So Many Zeroes

Email date: 10/29/14

In this update:
1. Money madness
2. Transportation amendment’s not-so-hidden origins

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Money madness
With the race for governor now in its final week, there has been a fair amount of back and forth in recent days by the candidates as well as in the media about who is outspending whom in the contest. Here is what we know:

Looking at the money raised so far by the candidates themselves, Governor Scott Walker has taken in nearly $29 million and has spent over $27.6 million. His Democratic opponent Mary Burke has raised more than $15.2 million ($5 million of which is Burke’s own money that she contributed to her campaign) and has spent nearly $12.4 million. Both candidates have close to $3 million cash on hand for the final days of the campaign and are continuing to raise more money.

Disclosed spending reported so far by interest groups sponsoring their own advertising in the race has topped $10 million, with groups on Walker’s side outspending those in Mary Burke’s corner by roughly a 55% to 45% margin. In addition, there has been considerable undisclosed interest group spending by so-called “issue ad” groups. Of the groups known to be spending money in the governor’s race but not operating as registered committees that file campaign finance reports, all but one are on Walker’s side.

Comparing the pace at which funds were being raised and spent in 2014 to patterns established in past statewide elections, the Democracy Campaign had been predicting that overall spending in the governor’s race would total somewhere between $50 million and $60 million. The campaign reports filed this week make it clear the prediction will have to be adjusted upward. Fundraising surged with late contributions as large as $1 million from wealthy donors made possible by a federal judge’s ruling that the state could no longer enforce limits on donations by political party committees and interest group PACs. It now appears that overall spending in the race could surpass the $60 million mark and possibly even approach $70 million. In any case, this year’s contest is sure to be the most expensive regular election for governor in the state’s history, blowing past the previous record of $37 million in 2010. But it should wind up being less expensive than the 2012 recall election, where total spending of $81 million was tallied.

While it’s the super-rich who are writing the campaign checks to fuel stratospheric election spending, all of this money in politics exacts a hefty toll on the general public nonetheless.

For more details on the latest fundraising and election spending, including lists of the biggest donors to Walker and Burke, check out the Campaign 2014 feature on our website.

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Transportation amendment’s not-so-hidden origins
Wisconsin voters will be asked next Tuesday to ratify a proposed constitutional amendment dealing with transportation funding. In an article posted on our blog, the Democracy Campaign’s research director explains how the question made its way onto the ballot and where the proposal came from.