Spending in these Wisconsin recall elections has been huge. A few weeks ago, The Journal Sentinel’s Wisconsin Voter blog noted: “Some insiders expect combined spending of all kinds to top $20 million for the nine recall elections, much of it outside money, much of it undisclosed.” That ended up being a very conservative estimate, as over 31 million dollars (according to Mother Jones) has been spent in the past 4 months. A figure nearly eight times the less than 4 million spent in last year’s elections. As of two weeks ago, Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, had raised $1.04 million and spent $600,000 of it. It appears she will shatter the state record for spending in a Senate election.
In all, the six incumbent state senators facing general recall elections on Aug. 9 raised more than $2.3 million in the first six months of this year, compared to just over $1.5 million for their six post-primary (the primaries only had to happen because Republican groups registered fake Democrats) Democratic challengers. In only one race is the challenging Democrat outraising the incumbent Republican. That doesn’t stop the out-of-state money from coming in, as Democrat Shelly Moore has raised nearly $60,000 from outside of the state. In District 30, the incumbent Democrat Dave Hansen doubled the Republican challenger in spending and won. More important than actual campaign donations is the outside spenders.
The biggest spenders?
For the Democrats, the labor coalition We Are Wisconsin, which has spent more than $400,000 on Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison and Minneapolis TV in recent weeks.
For the Republicans, the Wisconsin Chapter of the Club for Growth, which has spent more than $300,000 on Milwaukee, Green Bay and Minneapolis TV since June.
Sitting Republican Senator Alberta Darling is clearly in the pockets of money groups like Americans for Prosperity, and anti-choice money groups like the Right to Life group. There is also the issue of the Koch-ran Americans for Prosperity sending out absentee ballots with bad addresses and dates, which would have canceled many people’s votes. The group Citizens United (yes that name should sound familiar) has also spent 30,000 dollars on television ads in the recall elections.
Democrats in the recall race have actually dropped the collective bargaining issue that got this whole process started anyway. This is fundamentally bizarre, and I am not sure exactly what to make of this. In the middle of all this, the GOP has passed a new redistricting map for state elections. Democrats are threatening to take this to court. For political junkies, this circus is like Christmas all over again. For the more cynical among us, it’s nothing but a big headache, because it shows everything that is wrong with State and Federal politics in the United States.
Edited By: Sherri Yarbrough