Steven Walters
The State of Politics

Walker Has Raised $100 Million

Plus $45 million from third-party groups. All since 2009.

By - Jan 23rd, 2017 10:58 am
Gov. Scott Walker. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Gov. Scott Walker. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Here’s one more way Republican Gov. Scott Walker made Wisconsin history: His four campaigns – three for governor and one for President – raised a record $100 million between 2009 and 2016.

When Walker’s presidential campaign paid off its debt by Dec. 31, partly by getting vendors to take a 10 percent haircut on what they were owed, it offered a new glimpse at fund raising by the 49-year-old governor who plans to seek a third term next year.

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (WDC), which keeps its own campaign-finance databases and monitors campaign spending reported by groups nationally, last week scored the governor’s fund raising over the last eight years at a stunning $100 million.

Here’s how WDC got to that number: Walker’s campaign committees reported raising $11 million for his 2010 election as governor, $37.3 million for the recall election he survived in June 2012, $34.4 million to win a second term in 2014, $9.2 million on his 71-day campaign for President in 2015, and $8.1 million raised over the last two years.

“There’s no doubt whatsoever that Walker has raised more money than any other governor in Wisconsin history,” said WDC Executive Director Matt Rothschild.

But that’s not all.

WDC also compiled, from state and national reports, how much third-party groups had raised separately to help Walker since 2010, and put that number at an additional $45.6 million.

The $45.6 million included $9.9 million third-party groups spent on Walker’s 2010 campaign, $23 million on his recall win, and $12.7 million to help him win a second term in 2014.

Both numbers mean Walker was a $145-million fund-raising industry between 2009 and 2016. That’s remarkable for the Delavan High alum and son of a Baptist minister who still likes to remind fans across the nation that he was an Eagle Scout who learned about work flipping McDonalds hamburgers.

UW-Madison Political Science Professor Barry Burden said the governor’s fund-raising numbers will keep climbing. “Scott Walker has been a remarkable fundraiser, especially during the brief recall campaign of 2012. One of his legacies will be the escalation of fundraising in Wisconsin gubernatorial campaigns,” Burden said last week.

He added, “His position as chair of the Republican Governors Association will help him expand his national fund-raising network in advance of the 2018 election and perhaps another presidential run.

“The only blemish on his record is the debt that his presidential campaign quickly encountered. That campaign got ahead of itself in several ways, including the funds needed to sustain it.”

Scott Walker

Scott Walker

Walker is proud of his fund raising, saying this about the 2012 recall he survived in his book, Unintimidated:

In the end, we raised some $37 million (more than 70% of our donors gave us $50 or less). We made some 4.5 million voter contacts during the campaign – using traditional and electronic messaging. We had a strong ground game, a strong record, and a strong positive optimistic message.

Rothschild said Walker’s fund raising shows that he care most about pleasing the richest donors.

Walker is “in hock” to conservative billionaires, Rothschild said. “Those are the people he serves, not the citizens of Wisconsin.”

But Republican Party of Wisconsin spokesman Alec Zimmerman says Walker’s record is the reason for his fund-raising prowess.

“Gov. Walker has earned the trust of Wisconsinites and built a strong base of support because he’s fought for taxpayers and working families – not the big government special interests,” Zimmerman said in a statement.

“His reforms speak for themselves: More Wisconsinites are working than ever before, our unemployment is the lowest it’s been since 2001, and taxes have been cut $4.7 billion.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that one sign of Walker’s national popularity was the $823,000 that his presidential campaign got last year from selling its list of donors. That cash helped pay off 2015 presidential campaign debts.

Those sales were handled by a New Hampshire firm, Granite Lists, whose Website touts Walker’s contributors as “a huge national network of online donors which was the envy of the political fund raising world….They know exactly what’s at stake [and] want to make sure conservative values triumph.

Walker’s fund raising records also tells Democrats: Whoever you run against me next year better have money, or access to it. Lots of money.

Steven Walters is a senior producer for the nonprofit public affairs channel WisconsinEye. Contact him at

15 thoughts on “The State of Politics: Walker Has Raised $100 Million”

  1. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Hey, the man is good at his job- being bought, staying bought, and using government to give kickbacks as a “thank you” to those who bought him.

    Oh wait, you think his 6-figure-with-benefits job is to help the state of Wisconsin and it’s citizens? HAHAHAHA!!!!

  2. WashCoRepub says:

    Hey, thanks for the reminder! I need to get a check out to Governor Walker’s campaign this month for his 2018 run…

  3. Vincent Hanna says:

    I’ll take a check too, as long as you’re throwing money around.

  4. tom says:

    Big tough “unintimidated” Walker has to pick friendly crowds as he tours the state. When is the last time he held an open forum for all WI citizens? What a wimp.

  5. Virginia says:

    Walker: “In the end, we raised some $37 million (more than 70% of our donors gave us $50 or less).”

    Translation: Nearly 30 percent of donors gave more than $50, including some very big donors. And that only counts gifts to the campaign, not the $45.6 million raised by third parties (“dark money”).

  6. Jason says:

    What does money raised get you? Jeb Bush spent $100 million dollars telling Republicans that Trump was not a Republican. Trump response Jeb, your right I am not your normal Republican. Jeb’s money machine defeated.

  7. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    By the way, how much do you want to bet that the closed-door, captive-audience business where Walker is speaking in the picture is a campaign contributor? In fact, if you ever want to have fun, go to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign website and type in the name of the company that Walker is appearing at on a given day, and in particular focus in on the CEO. I bet the “hit” rate is well above 50%.

    The best of these is when Walker made numerous appearances at HUSCO in Waukesha for “job announcements/ our economy is strong” events in 2012 and 2014, because CEO Gus Ramirez was a big Walker donor and voucher school supporter, and because another exec was the son of Bradley Foundation Chair Mike Grebe (Walker later appointed the Grebe kid to the UW Board of Regents).

    The best part? HUSCO recently had a job fair….for over 100 employees they laid off last year.

  8. Vincent Hanna says:

    So Jason that means politicians are going to stop trying to raise tons of money and appeasing their major donors?

  9. Jason says:

    Dems should run Ulice Payne Jr. in 2018 and then Walker’s money is worthless.

  10. Vincent Hanna says:

    I will take that as a no. Always a pleasure Jason. You are a unique snowflake.

  11. Jim M says:

    Walker is the best Governor that money can buy !!

  12. Jason says:

    Vince your answer is obvious. Will a Democratic Governor not take money from special interest groups? Diamond Jim Doyle gave the casino away to the Indian tribes compared to other states. Jim Doyle did well with the government unions weekly dues? Yes, most politicians hate asking people to bankroll their political aspirations but it is the life blood of a campaign.

  13. Vincent Hanna says:

    So what was the point of your earlier post then? You insinuated that money can’t buy elections anymore because Jeb/Trump. Now you’re suggesting you believe otherwise. Maybe you don’t know what you believe.

  14. Tony Muhammad says:

    The Republican Party leadership across the country like Gov.Scott Walker success in capturing conservative thinking Americans votes in election seasons is due in part to the Democratic National Party leadership “liberal agenda” for the most part creating, pushing, and instituting massive failing poverty programs across the nation minus the creation of jobs and job training programs, and the Federal Government give-away $500 million per year to the abortion industry (Plan Parenthood).

    The DNC false talking point – “An attack on Plan Parenthood is an attack on women health,” is a gross misnomer in our society – as though conservative thinking Americans are comprised of men only, and men generally should keep their mouths shut if a young girl or women decides to abort a developing human life in her womb as though a man did not place the seed in her womb.

    Yes, I believe, in cases of pregnancy due to rape or forced family incest these men should be brought under the hammer of the law and the victims (girls and women) provided some means of government support if they decided to abort the unwanted / forced pregnancy.

    Governor Scott Walker like other republican leaders across the nation speaks to the religious conscience in part that dictates religious moral values and principles the moral majority or silent majority of American citizens believe draws a line between what they perceive is humanly right and wrong.

    The death of the DNC is on the arisen if the RNP can sway conservative thinking Black Americans (Religous Believer’s) that the republican party is not controlled by racist thinking White males, the party can reduce poverty which liberals maintain to feed too many governmental-supported non-profit programs across the nation, create good paying jobs that sustain a family health and upward mobility, or better stated deliver the American Dream, regardless of the skin color of the American citizen, and finally eliminate or substantially reduce criminal activity in Black communities in the American society.

    Like President Donald Trump stated to Black America during his presidential campaign – You tried them. What do you have to lose try me ( Coded message meaning -The Republican Platform)?

    Governor Scott Walker like President Donald Trump are faces of the neo-breed of Republican leadership (Tea Party) that can speak into the conservative mind of America’s majority population, White males/females common citizens.

    Disclosure… I do not belong to or a member of either party “It Is What It Is,” in my humble opinion

  15. Vincent Hanna says:

    Oh great Tony mansplains reproductive health!

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