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Democratic U.S. Senate candidates added millions to campaigns in fourth quarter

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Two wealthy Democratic U.S. Senate candidates added millions to their campaigns in the fourth quarter of 2021, giving them a leg up in the busy Democratic field in a fight to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

U.S. Senate candidate and Milwaukee Bucks executive-on-leave Alex Lasry added $1.55 million to his campaign between October and December, bringing his fourth-quarter total to over $2 million, including $473,000 he raised from donors.

Lasry finished the year with $1.12 million on hand and $5.1 million total raised — including over $2.3 million he put in the race — in what is sure to become one of the state’s most expensive U.S. Senate Democratic primaries and general elections as the nation looks to Wisconsin as one of the most critical elections to determine the future of the 50-50 U.S. Senate.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski added $750,000 to her campaign in the fourth quarter and received around $350,000 in contributions, finishing the year with $1.3 million cash on hand, her campaign reported Monday.

Sarah Godlewski


Godlewski’s campaign total is about $3 million, which includes another $1 million she contributed in the third quarter last year.

Johnson raked in $711,500 in the final three months of 2021, ending the year with $2.46 million cash on hand — more than any of his Democratic challengers. His 2021 total exceeds $3 million despite not announcing his reelection bid until Jan. 9, after which most Democratic candidates said they received a bump in donations.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson raised $213,500 from October to December, putting the self-proclaimed underdog financially behind the other Democrats in terms of the total amount raised, according to his report.

Nelson reported having $484,000 cash on hand after raising $1.15 million since he declared his candidacy in October 2020.

While some other candidates made more between donations and self-funding, U.S. Senate candidate and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes reported raising over $1.2 million — more than any other candidate — in fourth quarter donations alone. He has raised $2.3 million total, and had $1.1 million cash on hand at the end of the year.

Mandela Barnes


Barnes’ campaign said the $1.23 million he raised breaks down to a $43.65 average donation from 17,830 total donors.

Regardless of the Democratic primary victor, the Democratic nominee is certain to face headwinds in the race against Johnson. History points to the presidential party performing poorly in the midterm elections, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and 40-year high inflation rate also could be major factors.

The U.S. Senate primary is Aug. 9, and the general election is Nov. 8.

Tom Nelson (copy) (copy)

Tom Nelson

Also Monday, Democratic super PAC Priorities USA announced it is investing $30 million in digital ads and outreach for seven battleground states, including Wisconsin, ahead of November’s midterm elections.

The 2020 election is over. Here’s what happened (and what didn’t)

The 2020 election was “the most secure in American history,” according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which coordinates the nation’s election infrastructure.

While a handful of voters risked going to prison by attempting to vote twice or in the name of a dead relative, as happens in any election, no evidence of widespread fraud has ever been produced in Wisconsin or elsewhere.

Yet, many continue to question some of the practices clerks relied on to encourage eligible voters to cast ballots and make sure their votes were counted amid the first election in more than 100 years held during a pandemic.

The Wisconsin State Journal has covered every twist and turn of this debate in scores of stories. But here are a few that offered some broader context about what happened, and didn't happen, in the election of 2020.

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The state has multiple, overlapping safeguards aimed at preventing ineligible voters from casting ballots, tampering with the ballots or altering vote totals.

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Nothing in the emails suggests there were problems with the election that contributed in any meaningful way to Trump's 20,682-vote loss to Joe Biden.

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"Despite concerns with statewide elections procedures, this audit showed us that the election was largely safe and secure," Sen. Rob Cowles said Friday.

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The grants were provided to every Wisconsin municipality that asked for them, and in the amounts they asked for. 

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"Application of the U.S. Department of Justice guidance among the clerks in Wisconsin is not uniform," the memo says.

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YORKVILLE — The Racine County Sheriff’s Office announced in a Thursday morning news conference that it has identified eight cases of what it believes to be election fraud at a Mount Pleasant nursing home.

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The memo states that state law gives the Audit Bureau complete access to all records during an audit investigation and federal law and guidance does not prohibit an election official from handing over election records.

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Drop boxes were used throughout Wisconsin, including in areas where Trump won the vast majority of counties.

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"I don't think that you instill confidence in a process by kind of blindly assuming there's nothing to see here," WILL president and general counsel Rick Esenberg said.

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The report is the latest to show that there was not widespread fraud in Wisconsin.

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The clear insinuation was that someone not qualified to conduct an election improperly influenced these vulnerable voters. But the Wisconsin State Journal could not confirm the data. 

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The turnout at nursing homes in Brown, Kenosha, Milwaukee and Racine counties in 2020 was not much different from the turnout in 2016.


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