Odds Worsen for Challengers

Legislative officeholders had $3.3 million in campaign cash on hand - $16 for every $1 raised by their challengers - heading into the home stretch to November’s general election, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis shows. Odds Worsen for Challengers

Officeholders Have 16-1 Fundraising Edge on Opponents

September 17, 2002

Madison - Legislative officeholders had $3.3 million in campaign cash on hand - $16 for every $1 raised by their challengers - heading into the home stretch to November’s general election, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis shows.

The WDC’s conclusions came from a review of preprimary campaign finance reports that cover fundraising and spending between July 1 and August 26 by the candidates vying for 99 Assembly seats and 17 Senate seats up for election. The reports were filed with the state by the candidates this month.

The latest reports show current officeholders have padded their fundraising advantage in the last two months. An earlier WDC review of legislative fundraising between January 1 and June 30 showed legislative officeholders had a $14-to-$1 advantage over challengers.

"The deck is stacked," WDC executive director Mike McCabe said. "Voters are cheated by a broken campaign finance system that produces one-sided races devoid of fresh ideas and devoid of any meaningful, informative exchange between candidates on the issues. In the end, our elected officials are not held accountable in the way they are when they face stiff competition at election time."

Key findings from the reports include:

  • Legislative officeholders had $3,346,572 in campaign cash compared to $211,555 for challengers - a $16-to-$1 advantage. Officeholders got an early fundraising start by spending most of 2001 and the first six months of this year using the state budget and a subsequent budget repair bill as both a carrot and a stick to squeeze special interests for large donations. In July and August, officeholders raised over twice as much as challengers - $582,608 compared to $275,944.
  • Overall, legislative candidates - officeholders, challengers and open seat candidates - had $3,686,181 in their campaign accounts at the end of August, a 42 percent increase over the $2.6 million they had on hand at a comparable point in 1998 - the last gubernatorial election year.
  • The $582,608 legislative officeholders raised in July and August is 35 percent more than the $431,174 they accepted during the same period in the 1998 gubernatorial election year.
  • The cash advantage incumbents hold over challengers at this point in 2002 is nearly double the $9-to-$1 advantage that officeholders held over challengers at a comparable point in the 2000 elections.
  • Assembly officeholders enjoy a $33-to-$1 advantage over their challengers and Senate officeholders have a $7-to-$1 advantage over challengers heading into the final two months of the campaign (see table below).

Table 1
Cash on Hand
(as of August 26, 2002)

State Assembly Candidates State Senate Candidates
Officeholders $2,354,509 Officeholders $992,063
Challengers $71,791 Challengers $139,764
Open Seats $80,519 Open Seats $47,534

"The campaign finance system is rigged in favor of the people in power, which is why our lawmakers go to such extreme lengths to kill campaign finance reform," McCabe said. "They want to keep this broken campaign finance system just the way it is."

An earlier WDC report showed that candidates in 57 of the 116 legislative contests do not have a major party opponent. In 49 races, candidates are unopposed altogether.

Officeholders in the Assembly and Senate again topped the list of candidates with the largest war chests (see Table 2). Only two challengers, Republican Representative Joseph Leibham running in the targeted 9th Senate District and Republican Cathy Stepp in the targeted 21st Senate District election, were among the top 25 candidates with the largest war chests. The next challenger to show up, candidate Ronald Brown in the 31st Senate District race, ranks 64th on the list of campaign cash balances.

Among those with the largest war chests are legislative leaders with no competitive races including Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, a Waukesha Republican, and Democratic Senator Kimberly Plache of Racine, who holds the targeted 21st Senate District seat.

In the race for governor, the three Democratic candidates raised a total of $1 million in July and August and had combined cash balances of $1.3 million going into the September 10 primary, which Democrat James Doyle won. Doyle consistently raised and spent the most money among the three Democratic contenders. His cash balance as of August 26 was $433,040. Republican Governor Scott McCallum had a cash balance of $1.2 million as of August 26 after raising $693,594 in July and August.


Candidate Party Office Status** Cash Balance
Jensen, Scott R R A98 O $329,364.06
Plache, Kimberly D S21 O $213,640.05
Ellis, Michael R S19 O $209,047.11
Black, Spencer D A77 O $135,863.77
Wasserman, Sheldon D A22 O $120,041.93
Riley, Antonio D A18 O $99,227.37
Robson, Judith D S15 O $95,573.13
Decker, Russ D S29 O $82,745.85
Krug, Shirley D A12 O $79,147.30
Moen, Rodney D S31 O $73,810.56
Kreibich, Robin R A93 O $73,634.29
Gundrum, Mark R A84 O $73,469.25
Schultz, Dale R S17 O $69,174.72
Ladwig, Bonnie R A63 O $66,017.38
Leibham, Joseph R S09 C $58,961.78
Erpenbach, Jon D S27 O $55,648.41
Nass, Stephen L R A31 O $55,270.00
Baumgart, James D S09 O $53,560.41
Petrowski, Jerry R A86 O $52,998.31
Zien, David R S23 O $52,676.21
Lassa, Julie D A71 O $50,058.95
Rhoades, Kitty R A30 O $48,364.63
Skindrud, Rick R A79 O $46,610.94
Stepp, Cathy R S21 C $44,396.14
Kreuser, James D A64 O $43,796.67
Kaufert, Dean R A55 O $42,943.23
Wieckert, Steve R A57 O $41,496.70
Grothman, Glenn R A58 O $39,603.74
Pettis, Mark R A28 O $31,410.10
Albers, Sheryl R A50 O $31,143.33
Gard, John R A89 O $29,940.04
Jauch, Robert D S25 O $29,108.91
Krawczyk, Judy R A88 O $28,574.98
Hahn, Eugene R A47 O $28,258.17
Stone, Jeff R A82 O $28,181.39
Kedzie, Neal R S11 OS $28,005.33
Friske, Donald R R A35 O $27,777.42
Loeffelholz, Gabe R A49 O $26,723.33
Ward, David R A37 O $26,519.93
Huber, Greg D A85 O $26,299.02
Montgomery, Phil R A04 O $25,508.06
Lasee, Alan R S01 O $24,910.90
Underheim, Gregg R A54 O $24,354.04
Krusick, Peggy D A07 O $24,183.66
Olsen, Luther R A41 O $23,288.76
Steinbrink, John D A65 O $21,813.50
Sherman, Gary D A74 O $21,778.70
Meyerhofer, Lee D A05 O $21,314.65
Hundertmark, Jean R A40 O $21,282.99
Cullen, David D A13 O $20,677.41
Jeskewitz, Suzanne R A24 O $19,601.85
Fitzgerald, Scott R S13 O $18,957.11
Carpenter, Tim D S03 OS $18,952.38
Schneider, Marlin D A72 O $18,748.25
Vrakas, Daniel R A33 O $17,410.49
Meyer, Dan R A34 O $17,277.71
Hubler, Mary D A75 O $16,870.32
Bies, Garey D R A01 O $16,798.80
Lasee, Frank R A02 O $15,753.59
Shilling, Jennifer D A95 O $15,699.23
McCormick, Terri R A56 O $15,288.60
Gunderson, Scott R A83 O $14,824.07
Richards, Jon D A19 O $14,048.41
Fitzgerald, Jeff R A39 O $13,824.30
Starzyk, Samantha R A66 O $13,638.77
Townsend, John R A52 O $13,287.59
Colon, Pedro D A08 O $13,204.85
Kestell, Steve R A27 O $13,026.10
Brown, Ronald W R S31 C $12,852.10
Lehman, John D A62 O $12,388.78
Owens, Carol R A53 O $12,222.14
Wolden, Charles D A28 C $12,130.63
Ainsworth, John R A06 O $11,880.60
Schooff, Dan D A45 O $11,449.63
Balow, Larry D A68 O $11,055.62
Huebsch, Michael R A94 O $10,875.13
Ott, Alvin R A03 O $10,785.63
Gielow, Curtis C R A23 OS $10,629.14
Johnsrud, DuWayne R A96 O $10,544.73
Suder, Scott R A69 O $10,485.65
Staskunas, Tony D A15 O $10,205.71
Berceau, Terese D A76 O $9,931.39
Van Roy, Karl R A90 OS $9,455.78
Plale, Jeffrey D A21 O $9,183.31
Musser, Terry R A92 O $8,933.20
Pope-Roberts, Sondy D A79 C $8,679.14
Lehman, Michael R A99 O $7,787.88
Hebl, Tom D A46 O $7,699.04
Grobschmidt, Richard D S07 O $7,110.43
Powers, Mike R A80 O $6,936.37
Vukmir, Leah R A14 OS $6,808.11
Boyle, Frank D A73 O $6,791.54
Gronemus, Barbara D A91 O $6,392.97
Coggs, Spencer D A17 O $6,209.78
Vruwink, Amy Sue D A70 OS $6,208.23
Kanavas, Theodore J R S33 O $6,098.87
Burke, Vicki D A94 C $5,657.80
Nischke, Ann M R A97 OS $5,499.69
Freese, Stephen R A51 O $5,110.17
Larson, Earl A D S23 C $5,004.62
Reynolds, Tom R S05 C $4,978.51
Zempel, Kurt R A26 OS $4,931.13
Travis, David D A81 O $4,866.02
Hines, JA R A42 O $4,599.80
Siss, Arlene D A49 C $4,361.78
LeMahieu, Daniel R R A59 OS $4,288.33
Christenson, George L D S05 C $4,085.55
Meyer, Gary C R A70 OS $4,030.82
Gordon, Paul D A67 OS $3,794.20
Yost, Meagan D A47 C $3,719.62
Pocan, Mark D A78 O $3,671.83
Dier, Roger D A90 OS $3,639.51
Green, William H R A15 C $3,572.16
Osegard, Larry L D A69 C $3,370.28
Miller, Mark D A48 O $3,350.32
Weber, Becky R A05 C $3,141.24
Moulton, Terry R A68 C $3,100.12
Black, Greg R S15 C $3,100.00
Edming, Jimmy Boy R S29 C $2,788.00
Gottlieb, Mark R A60 OS $2,766.44
Williams, Annette Polly D A10 O $2,746.16
Campbell, Victor R A12 C $2,631.68
Glenn, Debra A D A80 C $2,493.62
Seratti, Lorraine R A36 O $2,413.80
Young, Leon D A16 O $2,406.41
Foti, Steven R A38 O $2,315.04
Towns, Debi R A43 OS $2,091.93
DeBow, Royce K I A32 OS $2,071.61
Mode, Buzzy D A34 C $2,027.44
Helenius, Darryl R A73 C $1,783.37
Zepnick, Josh D A09 OS $1,776.93
Schroeder, Ryan D A32 OS $1,758.25
Sinicki, Christine D A20 O $1,699.51
Danielsen, Roger P D A97 OS $1,689.28
Lowrie, Jerry J D A43 OS $1,641.23
Hager, Alan D A89 C $1,466.64
Wood, Jeffrey S R A67 OS $1,422.61
Starr, Jeff D A86 C $1,379.13
Taft, Michael B D A92 C $1,345.70
Turner, Robert D A61 O $1,324.67
Genisio, James A D A54 C $1,298.50
Condon, Gregg A R S25 C $1,221.27
Lothian, Thomas A R A32 OS $1,218.75
Katers, Daniel J D A02 C $1,133.19
Dalsey, Bernard T G A43 OS $1,074.29
Feder, Dottie A I A98 OS $1,065.05
Hilsabeck, Susan D S01 C $1,058.70
Christensen, Walter M D S13 C $1,015.15
Waller, Donald Scott D A37 C $961.78
Wood, Wayne D A44 O $889.70
Clousing, Lin D A23 OS $867.48
Williams, Mary R A87 OS $773.09
Morris-Tatum, Johnnie D A11 O $768.31
Hermann, Tom D A01 C $763.43
Frederick, Todd D A35 C $760.11
Gundersen, Jerome R A95 C $719.46
Wolf, Larry A D A51 C $709.66
Thielke, Tom D A36 C $666.77
Van Akkeren, Terry D A26 OS $663.99
Milz, Bryan D A88 C $586.98
Woods, Scott A D S11 OS $576.20
Morga, Miguel D A96 C $552.83
Hansen, Mo D A38 C $503.65
Vineburg, Sidney D A04 C $452.15
Ziegelbauer, Bob D A25 O $347.22
Woldstad, Jake R A91 C $340.53
Harris, Leo V R A71 C $337.95
Reilly, Emmett J D S17 C $250.00
Adamczyk, Steve R A13 C $236.48
Ziegler, Thomas P R A72 C $225.04
Ingalis, Justin L A89 C $190.90
Seefluth, Gayle R A75 C $177.96
Reeves, James R A81 C $138.72
Trommer, Jay L A99 OS $138.30
Lawton, Catharine M I A59 OS $133.67
Reasbeck, Carol J I A73 C $100.00
Rolnick, Linda M I A32 OS $77.30
Carpenter, Jim G S07 C $52.39
Watson, Leroy L A31 C $50.00
Hutkowski, Hariah H R A46 C $13.94
Degner, Arden R A21 C $11.10
Houdek, Paula D A87 OS $3.68

*Based on reports that show cash balances of $1,000 or more filed by the candidates with the State Elections Board.

**"O" represents Officeholder, "C" represents Challenger, "OS" represents Open Seat.