By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker raised nearly $5.5 million over the past six months for his re-election campaign and has nearly $6 million cash on hand, easily outpacing the eight Democrats who are seeking to challenge him this November.
But Walker’s numbers were down from what he collected over the same period in 2014, when he was last up for re-election. His campaign emphasized that when combined with the money that has been raised by the Wisconsin Republican Party and his running mate, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Walker’s team had more money now than then. Accounted for in that way, he now has $8.6 million, up from $8.4 million four years ago.
“We’ve built a strong campaign, and our grassroots army will be critical to fighting off the big-government special interests and enacting our positive agenda to help Wisconsin win the 21st century,” Walker said in a statement.
By this time in 2014, Walker had raised nearly $8.3 million over six months and had $7.6 million cash on hand — compared with $5.5 million raised and $6 million cash on hand this year.
Since January 2017, Walker has raised about $12.6 million.
As for the eight Democrats seeking their parties nomination to challenge Walker in November, the pack was led by former state Rep. Kelda Roys, of Madison, thanks largely to a $255,000 loan she herself made to her own campaign.
Roys raised nearly $677,000 through the end of June and had $667,000 worth of cash on hand, the most of any Democratic candidate, according to reports filed with the state this week. She has now loaned her campaign a total of $350,000.
The fundraising totals provide a rough measure of how the campaigns are doing a month before the primary election scheduled for Aug. 14. Cash on hand is an important indication, especially for the relative unknown candidates in Democratic field. The Democratic candidates’ main goal in coming weeks will be to become more familiar with voters, largely through the use of television ads.
The Marquette University Law School will be releasing a new poll on Wednesday, providing yet another measure of the candidates’ strength.
Collectively since their campaigns began, the eight Democratic candidates have raised $3.7 million and have $1.8 million cash on hand.
Roys’ campaign manager, Sonja Chojnacki, noted that Roys was spending money at a slower rate than her Democratic opponents and said she was running “the most disciplined campaign of the cycle.”
“Our team is not wasting money on fancy office space or an army of high-priced consultants,” Chojnacki said. “We’ll be spending our money where it counts: getting our message out to voters.”
Roys said last week after a Democratic debate that she would start television advertising “very shortly.”
In addition to her loans, Roys’ campaign also received $84,000 from EMILY’s List, a group that backs female candidates who support abortion rights. It has endorsed Roys in the race. She also got $5,000 from NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The state firefighters union leader Mahlon Mitchell raised the second highest amount this year, $524,000, and, having raised $834,000 in total so far, the most since the campaign began. He benefited from nearly $391,000 in contributions from unions over the past six months. He’s also spending a lot more than Roys and has just $368,000 cash on hand.
Mitchell’s spokeswoman, Kirsten Allen, said she thinks giving yourself a big loan and then spending big on television ads at the end of the race is a “failed strategy.” She said Mitchell is spending his money now to build a campaign that will win, noting he has two field offices and a staff that’s dedicated to organizing.
Here are some other noteworthy facs from the Democrats’ reports for the first six months of the year:
- State Superintendent Tony Evers raised $496,000 and has $307,000 worth of cash on hand. He has loaned his campaign $100,000.
- The former state Democratic Party leader Matt Flynn raised $337,000 and has $403,000 cash on hand. He has also loaned his campaign $100,000, on top of $40,000 he previously gave.
- The political activist Mike McCabe raised $156,000 and had $68,000 cash on hand. He has loaned his campaign $35,000, bringing his total in personal loans to $60,000.
- Madison Mayor Paul Soglin raised nearly $116,000 and had about $58,000 worth of cash on hand.
- State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout raised nearly $90,000 and had just $21,000 worth of cash. She had previously loaned her campaign $15,000.
- The corporate attorney and political newcomer Josh Pade raised about $11,600 and owed $23,000.