Governor Candidates Woo Elite, Not Grassroots Support

August 7, 2002

Madison - The major party candidates for governor, some of whom boast that their talent for raising a lot of money indicates broad voter support, are accepting two-thirds of their campaign contributions from only an elite sliver of donors who gave $500 or more, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis shows.

The latest WDC analysis of contributions they received from January through June 30, 2002 also provides a more valid means to judge the sources of the gubernatorial candidates’ campaign cash than the often-used claim by some that most of their contributors give small contributions of less than $100.

While that may true, most of their total contributions consistently come from special interests with large pocketbooks.

Campaign finance reports show that Republican Governor Scott McCallum and Democratic challengers James Doyle, Tom Barrett, Kathleen Falk and Gary George raised $3,405,356 in individual contributions from January 1 through June 30, 2002 when adjusted for contributions received and returned during the six-month period.

WDC found that the candidates collectively accepted 67 percent, or $2.3 million, from 1,759 contributors who gave $500 or more during the six-month period. This group of contributors represents only 5/100 of 1 percent of the state’s 3.9 million taxpayers.

The analysis also shows:

  • Over half of the money the five candidates collectively accepted - 53 percent of their contributions, or $1.82 million - came from 869 contributors who gave $1,000 or more. They represent 2/100 of 1 percent of the state’s taxpayers.
  • Nearly a third of their money - 29 percent or $972,267 of the individual campaign contributions they collectively accepted - came from 206 contributors who gave $2,500 or more. They represent 5/1,000 of 1 percent of state taxpayers.
  • One-fifth of the money the candidates collectively accepted - 19 percent, or $630,897 of their contributions - came from 94 contributors who gave $5,000 or more. They represent 2/1,000 of 1 percent of the state’s 3.9 million taxpayers.

"Their 'grassroots’ support is made of AstroTurf," WDC executive director Mike McCabe said. "They haven’t received broad, statewide support from average voters, they've received a down payment for future services from a narrow band of fat cats."

The WDC analyzed individual contributors in all four categories - $500-plus, $1,000-plus, $2,500-plus and $5,000-plus - by total dollar amount and percentage of total individual contributions for each of the five candidates (See Candidate Contribution Tables). Those key findings showed:

  • McCallum accepted the most by dollar amount in all four big-money categories.
  • Doyle accepted the highest percentage relative to his total individual contributions in three of the four big-money categories.
  • $500-plus contributors accounted for half to three-quarters of all individual contributions accepted by each of the candidates.

Chart: Breakdown of Contributions to Gubernatorial Candidates by Amount

Doyle got 76 percent or $581,653 from 364 contributors who gave him $500 or more. McCallum accepted $1.09 million or 73 percent of his campaign cash from this group of contributors.

George accepted 64 percent or $85,450 of his $132,762 in individual contributions from 60 $500-plus donors. Barrett accepted 55 percent or $318,496 of his individual contributions from 275 $500-plus contributors, and Falk accepted 51 percent or $224,342 of her individual contributions from 231 of these contributors.

McCallum and Doyle led the pack in highest percentage and most dollars accepted among the five candidates from contributors of $1,000 or more. Doyle’s campaign got 64 percent or $491,935 from 194 $1,000-plus donors.

McCallum accepted $888,026 or 60 percent of his individual contributions from 454 $1,000-plus contributors.

Of the five candidates, Doyle had the highest percentage of $2,500-plus contributors relative to his total fundraising. Doyle’s 63 $2,500-plus contributors accounted for 43 percent or $327,541 of his total individual fundraising.

McCallum accepted the largest amount of money among the five from $2,500-plus contributors. His 91 $2,500-plus benefactors gave him $410,387 or 28 percent of his total individual contributions.

George had the highest percentage of $5,000-plus contributors relative to his total individual fundraising. His seven high-rolling benefactors accounted for 35 percent, or $46,000 of his individual contributions. George was removed from the ballot in late July by the Elections Board which ruled he did not have the required 2,000 signatures on his nomination papers.

McCallum accepted the largest amount of money among the five from $5,000-plus contributors. His 41 $5,000-plus contributors gave him $258,718 or 17 percent of his $1.48 million in individual contributions.

CANDIDATE CONTRIBUTION TABLES

McCallumDoyleFalkBarrettGeorge

Breakdown of Scott McCallum’s Contributions
January 1 - June 30, 2002
Total Individual Contributions - $1,484,986

Contributor Group Total Percentage of Total
Individual Contributions
Number
of Contributors
Percentage of
Contributors
to Taxpayers
$500-Plus $1,086,774 73% 829 2/100 of 1%
$1,000-Plus $888,026 60% 454 1/100 of 1%
$2,500-Plus $410,387 28% 91 2/1,000 of 1%
$5,000-Plus $258,718 17% 41 1/1,000 of 1%

Breakdown of James Doyle’s Contributions
January 1 -June 30, 2002
Total Individual Contributions - $770,302

Contributor Group Total Percentage of Total
Individual Contributions
Number
of Contributors
Percentage of
Contributors
to Taxpayers
$500-Plus $581,653 76% 364 9/1,000 of 1%
$1,000-Plus $491,935 64% 194 5/1,000 of 1%
$2,500-Plus $327,541 43% 63 2/1,000 of 1%
$5,000-Plus $218,925 28% 30 8/10,000 of 1%

Breakdown of Tom Barrett’s Contributions
January 1 -June 30, 2002
Total Individual Contributions - $578,215

Contributor Group Total Percentage of Total
Individual Contributions
Number
of Contributors
Percentage of
Contributors
to Taxpayers
$500-Plus $318,496 55% 275 7/1,000 of 1%
$1,000-Plus $239,058 41% 125 3/1,000 of 1%
$2,500-Plus $125,738 22% 29 7/10,000 of 1%
$5,000-Plus $77,500 13% 12 3/10,000 of 1%

Breakdown of Kathleen Falk’s Contributions
January 1 -June 30, 2002
Total Individual Contributions - $439,091

Contributor Group Total Percentage of Total
Individual Contributions
Number
of Contributors
Percentage of
Contributors
to Taxpayers
$500-Plus $224,342 51% 231 6/1,000 of 1%
$1,000-Plus $132,318 30% 72 2/1,000 of 1%
$2,500-Plus $60,101 14% 15 4/10,000 of 1%
$5,000-Plus $29,754 7% 4 8/100,000 of 1%

Breakdown of Gary George’s Contributions
January 1 - June 30, 2002
Total Individual Contributions - $132,762

Contributor Group Total Percentage of Total
Individual Contributions
Number
of Contributors
Percentage of
Contributors
to Taxpayers
$500-Plus $85,450 64% 60 2/1,000 of 1%
$1,000-Plus $66,250 50% 24 6/10,000 of 1%
$2,500-Plus $48,500 37% 8 2/10,000 of 1%
$5,000-Plus $46,000 35% 7 2/10,000 of 1%