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LEGISLATURE | CAMPAIGN COMMITTEES

Driven by corporate contributions, GOP legislative campaign committees outraise Democrats in first half of year

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State Capitol

While the Wisconsin Democratic Party clobbered its Republican counterpart in fundraising over the first half of the year by raking in four times as much money, Republicans at the legislative level appear to be doing just fine.

Driven by corporate contributions, both the Assembly and Senate Republican legislative campaign committees, which raise money to assist candidates for legislative office, outraised their Democratic counterparts during the first half of 2021.

The GOP fundraising haul comes as Republican lawmakers gear up to draw the political lines that will influence races for the state Senate, Assembly and Congress for the next decade. Republicans currently enjoy favorable political maps they drew under unified GOP control in 2011, in addition to some natural geographic advantages that together have helped Republicans command legislative majorities over almost all of the last 10 years.

This time around, however, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has veto authority over the maps Republicans will draw, which could lessen the chances that the maps are as favorable as the current 2011 maps. With potentially tighter races on the horizon, fundraising — just one part of a successful campaign operation — can play a crucial role.

See highlights of the Milwaukee Bucks' NBA championship parade from July 22, 2021.

Between January and July, the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee raised $522,440 to end the period with $1.4 million in the bank; and the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate raised $382,804 to end the period with $914,512 in the bank.

Contributors to Republicans included the political action committees of the Wisconsin Realtors Association, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Charter Communications, Forest County Potawatomi and Alliant Energy, among others.

That’s opposed to the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, which took in $304,859 over the first six months of the year and ended the period with $243,618 in the bank; and the State Senate Democratic Committee, which raised $166,695 to end the period with $314,782 in the bank.

Contributors to Democrats included the political action committees of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Wisconsin Realtors Association and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance.

Combined, the four legislative campaign committees banked $2.9 million, a figure that sets a new record for the midpoint of an odd numbered year, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks campaign spending.

The Republican legislative fundraising efforts were buoyed by corporate contributions. According to a review by the Democracy Campaign, the two Republican legislative campaign committees and RPW accepted four times as much in corporate contributions as the two Democratic legislative campaign committees and DPW.

Most of the corporate contributions were directed toward the legislative campaign committees and not RPW or DPW. RPW accepted just $300 in corporate contributions and DPW accepted $55,750 over the first half of the year.

RPW, Republican Assembly Campaign Committee and Committee to Elect a Republican Senate accepted a total of $471,550 in corporate contributions between January and June, according to a Democracy Campaign review.

Meanwhile, the DPW, Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee and State Senate Democratic Committee accepted a total of $122,257 in corporate contributions over the same period.

Corporate political contributions were banned in the state before Republicans changed the law in 2015.

The changes also allowed unlimited individual donations to parties.

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