State Supreme Court Race Cost $10 Million
Shatters spending record; 51% by Karofsky and outside groups supporting her in April election.
Outside group spending topped $5 million for the first time ever in a high court race (see Table). The three candidates combined also spent a record of just over $5 million. And the winner, Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky, spent $2.7 million, a single-candidate record in a state Supreme Court race.
Of the $10 million spent by the groups and candidates, 51 percent was spent by Karofsky and groups who supported her, 47 percent was spent by Kelly and groups who supported him, and 2 percent was spent by candidate Ed Fallone, who was eliminated in the February primary, and groups who supported him.
Special interest groups that backed Karofsky spent nearly $2.5 million. Groups that supported incumbent Justice Dan Kelly spent more than $2.5 million. Karofsky drew support from Democratic contributors and groups, and Kelly was backed by Republican and conservative contributors and groups. Outside groups also spent about $10,300 on Fallone.
Topping the list of outside spenders was A Better Wisconsin Together Political Fund, which doled out nearly $1.9 million on disclosed independent expenditures, mostly on television, online advertising, and mailings to support Karofsky.
Behind A Better Wisconsin was Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s largest business organization, which doled out an estimated $1.1 million in secret phony issue ad spending for television ads that attacked Karofsky. WMC is a traditional backer of Republican and conservative legislative and statewide candidates.
Rounding out the top three group spenders was the Republican State Leadership Committee, which spent about $900,000, mostly on television ads and text messages to support Kelly and attack Karofsky. This group generally supports conservative and GOP candidates in partisan legislative elections nationwide, but has backed conservative candidates in state judicial races in recent years.
For more details about the groups and their spending, check out the Democracy Campaign’s Hijacking Campaign 2020 or click on the links in the table below.
|A Better Wisconsin Together Political Fund||D||$1,877,467|
|Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC)||R||$1,100,000|
|Republican State Leadership Committee||R||$897,488|
|Americans for Prosperity||R||$479,463|
|Service Employees International Union Committee on Political Education
and SEIU State Council
|Wisconsin Family Action||R||$55,755|
|Wisconsin Conservation Voters||D||$50,000|
|Citizen Action of Wisconsin||D||$28,744|
|American Majority Action||R||$21,876|
|Alliance for Justice Action Campaign||D||$16,607|
|Voces de la Frontera||D||$4,617|
|Blue Sky Waukesha||D||$3,300|
|NRA Political Victory Fund||R||$957|
|Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) Region 3 PAC||D||$770|