GOP Lawmakers Led Dems in Fundraising, Cash on Hand in 2017

March 14, 2018

Income Disparities

Republican legislators had more than three times as much cash in their campaign accounts as their Democratic counterparts at the end of 2017, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign review found.

The Democracy Campaign found that Republican lawmakers ended 2017 with $3.86 million on hand, or about 3.2 times more than the $1.19 million Democrats had. That’s likely because Republicans the Assembly and Senate by comfortable margins and, hence, the fate of policy and spending proposals that draw special interest campaign cash.

On a per capita basis, Republicans had year-end balances that averaged about $45,400 compared to about $23,700 for Democrats.

Eleven candidate committees had cash balances of more than $100,000 at the end of 2017. The top finishers were:

GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, $376,217

Republican Sen. Howard Marklein, of Spring Green, $280,286

GOP Rep. Dale Kooyenga, of Brookfield, $237,646

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, of Rochester, $229,585

GOP Senate President Roger Roth, of Appleton, $167,274

Campaign finance reports for 2017 also showed legislators raised $3.54 million in 2017. That’s about 40 percent higher than the $2.53 million legislators raised in 2015 and about 44 percent more than the $2.46 million that legislators raised in 2013.

The Democracy Campaign found that Republican legislators raised about $2.21 million compared to about $1.33 million by Democrats. Per capita, that works out to an average of nearly $26,100 raised by GOP lawmakers and about $26,500 raised by Democrats.

Ten candidate committees raised more than $100,000 in 2017, led by:

Democratic Rep. Dana Wachs, of Eau Claire, $541,768

GOP Rep. Adam Jarchow, of Balsam Lake, $270,929

Republican Rep. Shannon Zimmerman, of River Falls, $237,614

Democratic Sen. Patty Schachtner, of Somerset, $196,481

GOP Sen. Alberta Darling, of River Hills, $160,215

Overall, legislators raised and saved sharply more last year than in past odd-numbered years. Part of the reason for the increases was three special elections to fill vacancies in the Assembly and Senates.

Campaign finance reports filed by legislative candidate committees showed they had more than $5 million in the bank at the end of 2017. That’s about 25 percent higher than the $4.05 million that legislative committees ended with in 2015, and about 42 percent more than the $3.5 million they had in their campaign accounts at the end of 2013.