Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett has over $1 million more on hand to spend on his campaign than his Republican rivals at the end of the pre-primary reporting period, according to finance reports released by the Government Accountability Board.
Although all candidates have relatively similar amounts of funds raised and cash spent, the two Republican hopefuls for governor are trailing behind Barrett in terms of campaign cash on hand.
Barrett, Milwaukee’s current mayor, reported $2.6 million in cash on hand.
Republican candidate Scott Walker, the Milwaukee County Executive, who also snagged the state GOP endorsement with over 91 percent support, reported $1.2 million in cash on hand while fellow Republican candidate Mark Neumann reported his campaign has $1.05 million.
The pre-primary period for reporting campaign funds raised or received in the Wisconsin gubernatorial election is from July 1 to Aug. 30, the report said.
Some election observers say the most these numbers may indicate is the difference in the competition level in the Democratic and Republican primary elections respectively Sept. 14.
“It does demonstrate that Barrett does not have a competitive primary while the Walker-Neumann primary is not only very competitive but it’s also starting to get pretty nasty,” said Jay Heck, executive director for Common Cause in Wisconsin.
Barrett also reported his campaign has raised more than $960,000 in the pre-primary period and spent $1.2 million, according to the report.
Walker reported spending $2.2 million and raised $826,542 in the reporting period, while Neumann spent $2.8 million and raised $2.3 million, more than $2.1 million of which was Neumann’s own money, according to the finance reports.
Such pre-reporting shuffling of personal funds into the campaign coffers before the filing date may be calculated by candidates to put their best foot forward before the primary election, Heck said.
“You always want to have the strongest possible cash on hand when you file the report,” Heck said. “It makes you look strong, it makes you look tough, but it’s not necessarily a totally accurate representation of what the situation is, especially in a race for governor that is probably going to approach or exceed the $50 million mark.”
The finance reports were released amid news current Gov. Jim Doyle gave $1 million to the Greater Wisconsin Committee, a progressive independent expenditure committee that will most likely finance negative ads toward Republican candidates, Heck said.
Doyle transferred the money to the independent expenditure committee from campaign contributions he personally is restricted from using now that he is not running for reelection.
Meanwhile, One Wisconsin Now filed an official complaint Tuesday with the GAB claiming the Walker campaign has violated reporting rules more than 650 times in the last four reporting periods by failing to disclose employment information for certain donors for contributions totaling $234,920.
“Scott Walker apparently doesn’t care about the reporting rules of the state of Wisconsin, because he is a repeat offender,” Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now’s executive director, said in a statement. “We are not talking about an isolated incident, but Scott Walker’s reckless disregard for our law.”