Walker’s Reliance on Outside Donations
Governor decries them, but no candidate in state is more reliant on them.
Gov. Scott Walker spent part of New Year’s Eve worrying about the possibility he might be outspent in his reelection campaign.
At 11:03 a.m., rather than having a mimosa or pickled herring, he tweeted: “In 2017, the Democrat candidate for governor in VA and his allies outspent the Republican candidate and his allies by about $30 million. We cannot let that happen in Wisconsin.”
Yet Walker is used to having a $30 million advantage himself. For instance, in his recall election in 2012, he and his allies outspent Tom Barrett and Democratic outside groups by almost $37 million: $58.7 million to $21.9 million.
And in 2014, Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch spent a combined $36.4 million, more than double the $17.3 million spent by Walker’s opponent, Democrat Mary Burke, and running mate, John Lehman. (His outside groups were slightly outspent by hers: Those that supported Burke spent an estimated $15.4 million, and groups that supported Walker spent an estimated $12.7 million.)
Nevertheless, Walker, who has raised more money than any other candidate in the history of Wisconsin politics, seems almost obsessed about falling behind in the race for campaign cash.
On Nov. 12, for instance, he said on “Upfront with Mike Gousha” that “the biggest fear that I, and a lot of our supporters, have, is not the candidate; it’s the outside money.”
But Walker has made his career feasting on outside money. During his recall campaign, eight of his top ten contributors came from out of state. And in the recall, he enjoyed a more than two-to-one advantage in spending by outside groups.
There is one final irony to Walker’s concern about such donations. In 2015, he signed into law a bill that has made it much easier for wealthy individuals and outside groups to spend money in Wisconsin’s elections.
The problem Walker points to was made worse by this legislation.