Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Campaign Cash

$2.3 Million Outside Spending on Legislative Races

On 96 of 115 legislative races in state, with slightly more for Republicans.

By - Oct 5th, 2020 10:09 am
Cash. (CC0 Creative Commons).

Cash. (CC0 Creative Commons).

GOP groups spent slightly more than Democratic groups as outside election spending in this fall’s legislative races neared $2.3 million as of Friday morning, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign review found.

Spending reports showed that express advocacy groups backing GOP candidates have spent $1.2 million and organizations supporting Democrats have spent nearly $1.1 million. Outside spending has occurred in 96 of the 115 state Senate and Assembly races on the ballot. The group spending in those races has ranged from $316 to about $362,566.

Express advocacy groups sponsor broadcast and online advertising, mailings and other electioneering activities that use the words “vote for” or “vote against” or their equivalents.

The WDC review of outside spending does not include unreported spending by phony issue ad groups, which smear or praise candidates without explicitly telling viewers who to vote for or against. An issue ad group run by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business organization, has sponsored a mailing and a television ad in the 32 nd Senate and 85 th Assembly races to back Republican candidates.

The top-spending express advocacy groups were:

Americans for Prosperity, a rightwing Koch-backed group, about $333,149

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) spent about $321,948 using two electioneering arms – here and here

A Better Wisconsin Together Political Fund, which supports Democratic candidates, $255,281

Jobs First Coalition, which supports Republican candidates, about $213,758

Citizen Action of Wisconsin, which supports Democrats, $205,854

The legislative races that were besieged by the highest outside spending were:

The 30th Senate District, an open seat in Green Bay, $362,566. Four groups backing Republican candidate Eric Wimberger have spent $202,627 and five groups backing Democrat Jonathon Hansen have doled out $159,939;

The 10th Senate District in northwestern Wisconsin, $322,267. Four groups backing Republican candidate Rob Stafsholt have spent $306,180 and three groups backing incumbent Democratic Sen. Patty Schachtner, of Somerset, have spent $16,087;

The 32nd Senate District, an open seat in the La Crosse area, $178,008. Five groups supporting Democrat Brad Pfaff have spent $132,587 and one group supporting Republican Dan Kapanke has spent $45,421.

Express advocacy groups spent $6.7 million on electioneering activities in the 2018 fall legislative races.

For more information about the electioneering activities and spending by all of the outside groups involved in the fall legislative and statewide races, go to the Hijacking Campaign 2020 feature on the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign website.

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