Mathematically Eliminated

The economics of Wisconsin politics is as screwed up as the economics of major league baseball, with current office holders and favored insiders virtually assured of victory while their rivals are out of contention due to the grotesque imbalance in financial resources, a new Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis shows. Mathematically Eliminated

Financial Disparities in State Politics Mirror Major League Baseball’s as
Most Candidates Stand No Chance Against Well-Heeled Insiders

March 5, 2001

Madison -

Legislative candidates who spent more than their opponents won 83 percent of the contested races between major party candidates in last fall’s elections, spending a record $4.1 million or 69 percent more than the $2.4 million spent by losing candidates, according to the Democracy Campaign analysis.

"Even before the season starts, everyone knows that only the Yankees, Braves and a handful of other teams have any hope of making it to the World Series. The rest are already mathematically eliminated because their payrolls don’t allow them to compete," said WDC executive director Mike McCabe, a long suffering but diehard Chicago Cubs fan. "The economics of our election campaigns is every bit as bad. There is nothing remotely resembling a level playing field."

The huge financial advantage held by those in power explains their resistance to campaign finance reform, McCabe said.

"The George Steinbrenners and Ted Turners of the baseball world don’t want to change a thing because the current economic structure in their sport makes them almost impossible to beat. It’s the same with the Scott Jensens and Chuck Chvalas in state politics. They haven’t allowed any changes, either," McCabe said. "But unless there are changes, economics will kill baseball and campaign finances will kill democracy."

A comparison to previous elections shows that the spending gap between winners and losers is widening. The $4.1 million spent by winning candidates in 2000 was 58 percent higher than the $2.6 million spent by winning candidates in 1998 when winners outspent losers by 38 percent.

In the Senate, 11 of 16 races in the 2000 general election were contested by major party candidates. In nine of those contested races the winner substantially outspent the loser, by 35 percent to 2,813 percent (Table 1). In the 30th and 32nd District races where the lower-spending Democratic candidates won, the candidates benefited from a substantial amount of independent spending by special interests. The special interest spending exceeded what both of the candidates spent in the 32nd District race between Democrat Mark Meyer and Republican Dan Kapanke, and exceeded what Democratic challenger Dave Hansen spent to win the 30th District race.

It’s unknown how much was spent in those races by issue ad groups on both sides. These groups are not required to report their campaign activities.

In the Assembly, 61 of 99 races were contested and the biggest spender won 51 - or 84 percent - of those contested races. In those races, the losing candidate was outspent from 6 percent to 14,282% percent (Table 2). An analysis of the 10 races that the lower-spending candidate won shows that the winner was an incumbent and, in most cases, located in a "safe" district that traditionally supports that incumbent’s political party.

Spending by Senate CandidatesSpending by Assembly Candidates


Districts and percentages in bold are races where the lower spending candidate won.

Office Candidate Party Status Result Total 2000
Difference % 
S08 Darling, Alberta R I W $134,265 ---
Johann, Sara Lee D C L Final Report Not In
S10 Harsdorf, Sheila R C W $409,278 35%
Clausing, Alice D I L $303,051
S12 Breske, Roger D I W $41,280 2,813%
Bailey, John L C L $1,417
S14 Welch, Robert R I W $43,827 111%
Goldsmith, Dick D C L $20,757
S16 Chvala, Chuck D I W $251,417 36%
Nelson, Lisa B. R C L $184,780
S18 Roessler, Carol R I W $71,013 274%
McGee, Kevin D C L $18,991
S20 Panzer, Mary R I W $107,958 415%
Koski, Dale D C L $20,976
S22 Wirch, Robert D I W $149,220 68%
Duecker, Dave R C L $88,658
S28 Lazich, Mary R I W $73,585 188%
Arciszewski, Kathleen S. D C L $25,534
S30 Drzewiecki, Gary R I L $218,907 50%
Hansen, Dave D C W $146,269
S32 Kapanke, Dan R O L $253,880 5%
Meyer, Mark D O W $242,128


Districts and percentages in bold are races where the lower spending candidate won.

Office Candidate Party Status Result Total 2000
Difference %
A01 Bies, Garey D. R O W $63,521 56%
Swoboda, Lary D O L $40,695
A04 Montgomery, Phil R I W $47,271 355%
Collins, Pat D C L $10,396
A05 Meyerhofer, Lee D I W $42,044 6%
Sanders, Thomas J. R C L $39,604
A07 Adamczyk, Steve R C L $9,202 13%
Bock, Peter D I W $8,109
A09 Carpenter, Tim D I W $12,049 33%
Mannisto, Richard T. R C L $9,070
A15 Staskunas, Tony D I W $8,052 8,052%
Pritzl, Robert L C L *
A21 Plale, Jeffrey D I W $35,862 2,357%
Strnad, Ryan R C L $1,452
A22 Wasserman, Sheldon D I W $18,769 21%
Gerard, Kevin R C L $15,497
A26 Leibham, Joseph R I W $67,007 61%
Van Akkeren, Terry D C L $41,696
A27 Kestell, Steve R I W $15,161 93%
Klein, Anita D C L $7,862
A28 Dueholm, Robert D C L $78,437 28%
Pettis, Mark R I W $61,375
A29 Butler, Jeff R C L $28,500 24%
Plouff, Joe D I W $22,896
A30 Rhoades, Kitty R I W $41,483 413%
Lundgaard, Laurie J. D C L $8,080
A31 Nass, Stephen L. R I W $9,826 9,826%
Dalsey, Bernard L C L *
A32 Jensen, Scott R. R I W $211,071 1,889%
VanDierendonck, Chad D C L $10,612
A34 Meyer, Dan R O W $64,796 54%
Weber, Roger L. D O L $42,144
A35 Friske, Donald R. R C W $52,914 40%
Waukau, Sarah D I L $37,784
A36 Seratti, Lorraine R I W $54,084 43%
Jazdzewski, Ginger D C L $37,862
A37 Nass, Steven J. D C L $17,752 27%
Ward, David R I W $14,029
A38 Foti, Steven R I W $75,689 ---
Barker, Denise D C L Final Report Not In
A39 Fitzgerald, Jeff R O W $66,926 386%
Giedd, Jim D O L $13,773
A42 Spillner, Joan Wade R I W $22,569 117%
Murphy, Jim D C L $10,410
A43 Kedzie, Neal R I W $32,820 481%
Woods, Scott A. D C L $5,652
A44 Rabas, Cal R. R C L $33,188 76%
Wood, Wayne D I W $18,692
A45 Schooff, Dan D I W $44,541 192%
Sweger, Wade R C L $15,235
A46 Hebl, Tom D I W $15,914 51%
Jones, Dave R C L $10,525
A47 Hahn, Eugene R I W $77,363 75%
Soucie, Laurent D C L $44,144
A49 Loeffelholz, Gabe R O W $27,019 59%
Siss, Arlene D O L $17,044
A51 Freese, Stephen R I W $53,934 521%
White, Rose C. D C L $8,691
A52 Townsend, John R I W $50,304 40%
Rosser, Lewis D C L $35,935
A54 Underheim, Gregg R I W $36,999 ---
Belken, Greg D C L Final Report Not In
A56 McCormick, Terri R O W $52,998 ---
Kopitske, Glenn  D O L Final Report Not In
A62 Lehman, John D I W $6,731 139%
Duncan, Mark T C L $2,816
A66 Starzyk, Samantha R O W $41,206 23%
Gentz, Virgil D O L $33,529
A67 Sykora, Tom R I W $36,186 499%
Morrow, Jan D C L $6,038
A68 Ludwigson, Howard R C L $75,172 79%
Balow, Larry D I W $41,998
A69 Suder, Scott R I W $42,017 353%
Haemer, Carl D C L $9,282
A70 Lippert, MaryAnn R O W $105,601 55%
Vruwink, Amy Sue D O L $68,246
A71 Lassa, Julie D I W $19,523 72%
Harris, Leo V. R C L $11,319
A72 Schneider, Marlin D I W $11,997 ---
Huebler, Todd R C L Final Report Not In
A73 Helenius, Darryl R C L $16,502 21%
Boyle, Frank D I W $13,677
A74 Sherman, Gary D I W $16,912 8%
Loden, Connie R C L $15,671
A75 Hubler, Mary D I W $19,689 20%
Brenholt, Wayne R C L $16,381
A76 Berceau, Terese D I W $11,351 34%
Nathan, Andy R C L $8,487
A78 Pocan, Mark D I W $14,282 14,282%
Cekosh, Mike R C L $0
A79 Skindrud, Rick R I W $86,401 56%
Pope-Roberts, Sondy D C L $55,241
A80 Powers, Mike R I W $27,754 7%
Conn, Jeff D C L $25,972
A81 Travis, Dave D I W $16,898 34%
Russell, Tim R C L $12,655
A82 Stone, Jeff R I W $14,387 129%
Mead, Pat D C L $6,277
A83 Gunderson, Scott R I W $25,845 272%
Drumel, Daniel J. D C L $6,941
A85 Huber, Greg D I W $19,377 26%
Lippert, Albert R C L $15,433
A86 Petrowski, Jerry R I W $104,373 139%
Cihlar, Sandi D C L $43,735
A87 Dehmlow, Brad R C L $15,363 64%
Reynolds, Martin D I W $9,348
A88 Krawczyk, Judy R O W $85,404 34%
Peggs, Steven R. D O L $63,954
A89 Gard, John R I W $75,033 846%
Hager, Alan D C L $7,935
A90 Ryba, John D I W $32,793 50%
Weycker, Brent R C L $49,107
A93 Cameron, Duncan D C L $14,187 24%
Kreibich, Robin R I W $11,473
A94 Huebsch, Michael R I W $38,857 353%
Mulder, Dirk D C L $8,569
A95 Ehlenfeldt, Jennifer D O W $63,382 8%
Suchla, Deb R O L $58,942
A96 Johnsrud, DuWayne R I W $25,041 59%
Servais, Jim D C L $15,726
A97 Krusick, Peggy D I W $9,728 1,302%
Brodaczynski, Mark R C L $694

*Candidate exempt from filing report because spending was under $1,000.