Money in Wisconsin Politics Index

Money in in Wisconsin state politics -- by the numbers. Money in Wisconsin Politics Index

November 23, 2009

Number of legislative seats up for election in 2008: 115.

Number of candidates running for the legislature: 270.

Number of legislative seats contested by candidates from both major parties in November: 76.

Number of legislative candidates with no opposition in November: 34.

Number of incumbents running for reelection: 102.

Number who lost: 3.

Total campaign spending by all candidates for the state legislature in calendar year 2008: $11.6 million.

In 1994: $4.8 million.

Average spending by a candidate in a competitive* Senate race in 1994: $102,526.

In 2008: $349,493.

Average spending by a candidate in a competitive* Assembly race in 1994: $35,419.

In 2008: $69,325.

Largest amount spent by an Assembly candidate in 2008: $311,709, Dan Kohl, Democratic primary candidate, Assembly District 22.

Largest amount spent by an Assembly candidate on the November ballot in 2008: $175,900, Mike Huebsch, Republican incumbent and then-Assembly speaker, 94th Assembly District.

Previous high in an Assembly race: $221,403, John Gard, Republican incumbent and then-Assembly speaker, 89th Assembly District 89, 2004.

Largest amount ever spent by a State Senate candidate: $720,333, Sheldon Wasserman, unsuccessful Democratic challenger, Senate District 8, 2008.

Amount spent by his opponent: $479,076.

Previous high in a Senate race: $450,664, Alex Paul, losing candidate in the Democratic primary, Senate District 24, Special Election, 2003.

Lowest amount spent by a winning candidate in the 2008 election: $0, Bob Ziegelbauer, unchallenged Democratic incumbent, Assembly District 25.

Lowest amount spent by any Senate candidate in 2008: $607, Robert Cowles, unchallenged Republican incumbent, Senate District 2.

Income for all 270 legislative candidates from all sources – including individuals, PACs and public financing in 2008: $10.7 million.

Amount raised by non-candidate Governor Doyle in 2008: $1.5 million.

Number of individuals who made lump sum contributions of more than $100 to Wisconsin legislative candidates in 2008: 8,810

The total amount of contributions by this group to legislative candidates: $6.4 million

Percentage of all legislative candidate income in 2008 these 8,810 provided: 60%.

Percentage of Wisconsin’s 2008 voting age population these 8,810 represent: 0.2%

Amount of their own money all candidates contributed to their campaigns in 2008: $1.26 million.

Largest amount of his own money a candidate contributed to his own campaign in 2008: $250,000, Sheldon Wasserman, Democratic challenger, Senate District 8.

Outcome: Lost general election to the incumbent.

Second highest amount of his own money a candidate contributed to his own campaign in 2008: $240,140, Dan Kohl, Democratic candidate, Assembly District 22.

Outcome: Lost open primary race.

Number of candidates who partially financed their own campaigns in 2008: 146.

Number of those who won: 27.

Number of those winners who were incumbents: 13.

Amount of their own money the winners contributed in 2008: $133,144.

Average amount of their self-contributions: $965.

Amount contributed by the 119 who lost: $1,122,470.

Average amount of their self-contributions: $1,483.

Number of the losing candidates who were incumbents: 1.

Amount the losing incumbent contributed to his campaign: $4,565

Largest amount an incumbent contributed to his own campaign in 2008: $4,565

Amount contributed by all other incumbents to their own campaigns: $19,389

Total amount of public financing granted to legislative candidates in 2008: $168,978.

Total amount in 1996: $434,535.

Number of candidates granted public financing in 1996: 92.

Number of candidates granted public financing in 1996 who won: 46.

Number of candidates granted public financing in 2008: 26.

Number of candidates granted public financing in 2008 who won: 4.

DISCLOSED independent expenditures by outside special interest groups to influence the election in 2008: $2.8 million.

Estimated UNDISCLOSED spending on "issue ads" to influence statewide and legislative races in 2008: $4.3 million.

DISCLOSED independent expenditures by outside special interest groups to influence the election in 1994: $550,000.

UNDISCLOSED “issue ad” spending in 1994: $0.


*Margin of victory 10% or less in the November election. Only final November ballot candidates are included in the average. In races of three or more candidates, spending by uncompetitive candidates (those receiving less than 40% of the vote) is excluded from the average. Since the 1994 election, no third party candidate has received more than 12% of the vote.