October 19, 2016
Figures compiled by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign show ideological, business and other special interests have dropped more than $4.4 million on the legislative races. Meanwhile, the most recent campaign finance reports filed late last month show final-ballot legislative candidates collectively spent about $2.6 million between Jan. 1 and August 31.
Most of the spending by the groups, about $3.7 million or 84 percent, has been in three of the 16 state Senate races up for grabs. Here’s a rundown of those races and others where the candidates’ messages to voters are taking a back seat to special interest spending:
In the hotly contested 18th Senate race, Democrat Mark Harris and Republican Dan Feyen, who are vying for an open seat, raised about $204,300 and spent about $99,400 through August. Special interests, led by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the Greater Wisconsin Committee (GWC), and a new group called Prosperity for Everyday People, have spent about $2.4 million.
In the 14th Senate race, where incumbent GOP Sen. Luther Olsen, of Ripon, faces Democrat Brian Smith, the candidates raised about $100,800 and spent about $31,700. Special interests, again, led by WMC, GWC, and Prosperity for Everyday People, have spent about $800,000.
In the 12th Senate District, where incumbent Republican Sen. Tom Tiffany, of Hazelhurst, faces Democrat Bryan Van Stippen, the candidates raised about $228,000 and spent about $37,700. Outside special interests have spent more than $500,000 with American Federation for Children (AFC), a Washington, D.C.-based pro-school-voucher advocate, spending the most.
For the open seat in the 85th Assembly District, Democrat Mandy Wright and Republican Patrick Snyder raised about $145,300 and spent about $47,300 through August. Meanwhile, outside special interest groups have spent about $170,900, led by AFC, which has spent about $117,200 on the race.
In the 50th Assembly race, where incumbent Republican Ed Brooks, of Reedsburg, faces a challenge from Democrat Art Shrader, the candidates raised about $151,600 and spent $58,600 through August. Special interests, led by the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform, have spent about $95,000 in the race.
In the 51st Assembly race, incumbent Republican Todd Novak, of Dodgeville, and Democrat Jeff Wright, raised about $157,500 and spent about $58,000. Meanwhile, special interest groups have dropped about $123,400 in the race, led by AFC, which has spent about $47,000.
For 67th Assembly open seat, Democrat Dennis Hunt and Republican Rob Summerfield raised about $73,200 and spent about $37,000, compared to about $92,250 in spending by outside special interests led by AFC, which has spent about $41,500 in the race.