With the recall election primaries just one week away, a major round of campaign financing figures filed Monday shows the governor with a substantial lead in the money race against his prospective Democratic challengers.
Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign leads all other candidates in the gubernatorial race, raising more than $13 million over the last four months. The amount is five times more than all of the Democratic challengers’ donations combined.
Comparatively, in the most recent three-month reporting period for the 2012 GOP presidential primary, Newt Gingrich raised less than $10 million.
Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk was the democratic frontrunner, raising a total of $977,059 for the period, spending $884,859 and with $118,062 cash on hand.
The reports also showed the state’s largest union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees-Wisconsin, donated more than $834,000 to Wisconsin for Falk, a super political action committee in support of Falk.
A political action committee for the state’s largest teachers union, Wisconsin Education Association Council, also contributed an additional $43,128 to Falk’s campaign.
Coming in behind Falk for funding was Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who raised $830,000, Secretary of State Doug La Follette, with $118,087, and Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, who reported $43,978 in fundraising.
Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch reported raising $540,562, spending $52,384 and $191,033 cash on hand. According to a statement from Kleefisch’s campaign, 84 percent of the donations came from inside of the state.
Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said when a candidate has a significant fundraising edge, the candidate tends to win the election. However, he said when the fundraising totals are close, it does not tend to matter if one candidate has a bit more than the other.
“Obviously the quality of the candidate and the mood of the electorate matter too,” McCabe said. “Sometimes if it’s a stronger Democratic or Republican year, fundraising is not going to save you. But with fairly strong candidates on both sides, the one who has more money has the advantage.”
McCabe added due to heavy media coverage of these numbers, other things like the main issues and ideas tend to be pushed aside.
Public opinion is also affected by these numbers, according to McCabe, who said the numbers have a subtle but sometimes powerful influence on voter decisions.
“People say they never watch political ads or pay attention to fundraising numbers,” McCabe said. “But if you look at the actual behavior of voters, they sometimes dismiss the candidate because they are lacking in the fundraising battle. Their influence seeps in subliminally.”
Government Accountability Board spokesperson Reid Magney said there is an additional deadline for donations that will come in during the next week.
The primary for all six recall elections will be held May 8, and the general election will be held June 5. Other significant reporting dates include a pre-election report May 29 and a post-election report July 5, according to a report from the GAB.