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Report: Tony Evers' brought in more than $3 million in individual contributions so far this year, $5 million total
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ELECTION 2022 | GOVERNOR

Report: Tony Evers' brought in more than $3 million in individual contributions so far this year, $5 million total

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With more than a year to go before the 2022 election, Gov. Tony Evers’s campaign raised just over $5 million so far this year, with more than $3 million of that coming from individual donors.

Campaign finance reports filed Thursday evening with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission provide additional details on the Democratic governor’s campaign efforts in the first half of the year, with Evers’ gubernatorial campaign holding about $7.3 million as of June 30.

Of the roughly $1.9 million in committee contributions received by Evers so far this year, more than half — or just over $1 million — came from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin as it looks to fend off any Republican challengers seeking to bring the state back to a GOP trifecta in 2022. Several high-profile Republicans are expected to run against Evers, but so far none have formally declared as candidates.

The governor’s campaign also spent just over $1 million in the first half of this year on campaign materials and staff, consulting fees and other campaign expenses, according to the report.

Evers’ $7.3 million in campaign funds is close to triple what former Republican Gov. Scott Walker had on hand at this point in his two reelection campaigns. Walker had about $2.2 million on hand midway through 2013 leading up to his successful bid for a second term in 2014 and roughly $2.4 million on hand halfway through 2017, before his 2018 loss to Evers.

Evers’ campaign reported earlier this week that roughly 17,000 individuals donated to the governor’s reelection campaign.

“We aren’t taking anything for granted — that’s why we’re starting early and building the strong foundation we need to reelect Governor Evers in 2022,” Cassi Fenili, Evers’ campaign manager, said in a statement Monday.

While fundraising figures are one facet of a successful campaign, they can provide a look into a campaign’s level of organization and overall support.

Campaign finance laws written by Legislative Republicans and signed in late 2015 by Walker allow candidates and political parties to make unlimited transfers of funds.

Evers announced his reelection bid during the state Democratic Party’s annual convention last month and will be looking to avoid the challenge of off-year elections, which tend to favor the part not in the White House.

One potential tool for Evers as he eyes a second term is the more than $1 billion in remaining federal stimulus funds at his disposal. So far, Evers has allocated about $892.5 million — on matters ranging from education and broadband to business grants and workforce funding — of an estimated $2.5 billion allocated to the state in the last COVID-19 stimulus package. As governor, Evers has sole discretion over the use of those funds.

What’s more, the 2021-23 biennial budget signed last week and touted as a win by Evers, despite being largely written by Republicans, is expected to result in an estimated $1.67 billion in the state’s general fund gross balance by mid-2023. That could leave room for political maneuvering between Evers and GOP lawmakers before the Legislature adjourns early next year for campaign season.

One question regarding Evers’ 2022 campaign is whether Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, will join him in his reelection campaign or dive into the already crowded Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. Barnes has not yet formally announced his plans.

While several high-profile Republicans are expected to challenge Evers next year, most have yet to formally register as candidates. The deadline to register as a candidate for the 2022 general election is June 1 of next year, leaving plenty of time for more names to be added to the ballot.

Small business owner and entrepreneur Jonathan Wichmann, the only Republican to formally announce plans to run for governor so far, raised just over $24,000 — all in individual donations — in the first half of 2021. Wichmann spent almost $19,000 of that over the 6-month span, according to finance reports.

No other major Republicans have officially announced a gubernatorial bid, but there are several in the potential lineup, including former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and lobbyist Bill McCoshen, who also served in former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson’s administration. Kleefisch had more than $205,000 on hand at the end of 2020 from her lieutenant governor campaign — which would provide ample seed money for a campaign to challenge Evers in 2022, which seems almost certain.

Former Marine Kevin Nicholson said last year he plans to either run for governor in 2022 or U.S. Senate, if current Republican Sen. Ron Johnson decides not to seek a third term. If Johnson does decide on a re-election bid, Nicholson said he’ll run for governor instead.

None of the Republicans expected to challenge Evers have formally announced candidacy and are not required to file campaign finance reports this week.

Individuals are required to register as a candidate as soon as they’ve received a contribution or made a disbursement, though state statute allows individuals to use contributions to rent a postal box, open a checking account or produce nomination papers without needing to formally register as a candidate, according to the Wisconsin Ethics Commission.

Year in review: The top Madison-area stories of 2020

It started out well enough. The Badgers were making a late-in-coming run at the Final Four. Hometown insurance behemoth American Family announced it was boosting its starting minimum wage to $20 an hour. Madison East Siders welcomed a new Pinney branch library.

The first two and a half months of the year feel like a different era, when news of a strange new virus infecting people in China was safely tucked away in the back pages of the newspaper and the heart-breaking images of a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of a 46-year-old Black man had yet to go viral.

Then came March and successive waves of closures, cancellations, lockdowns, furloughs, layoffs, infections and deaths. If the subsequent uprisings over the killing of George Floyd weren't enough to remind America that it has plenty of work to do to overcome racism, the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha tragically emphasized the point. And a divisive presidential election carried the tone of the year at the end.

While it may not be a year to look back on with particular fondness, 2020 no doubt is one to remember. Here's a look back at some of the top stories in the Madison area as they occurred.

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It marked the fourth consecutive loss in the Rose Bowl for UW, and the first time since 2013 that the program lost its final two games of the year.

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Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said Sunday the victim who officers found in an apartment at 1905 McKenna Blvd. shortly after 2:30 p.m. Saturday was a 20-year-old African American male.

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With the Green Bay defense failing to lay a hand on 49ers running back Raheem Mostert for much of the first half and the Aaron Rodgers-led offense committing two turnovers and failing to convert a third down yet again during a scoreless first 30 minutes, the Packers dug themselves a 27-0 halftime deficit on their way to a demoralizing 37-20 loss.

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Gutierrez, superintendent of the school district in Seguin, Texas, was announced Friday as the Madison School Board's pick to lead the district.

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The person returned to Dane County Regional Airport after a trip to Beijing Jan. 30 and went directly to UW Hospital's emergency room, officials said.

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This weekend's performances at the Alliant Energy Center will be the last with elephants in Dane County as a contract between the circus and the venue expires. 

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Tony Evers said he vetoed the legislation, which uses surplus revenue, because it doesn't invest in the state's schools. 

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Despite no Wisconsin cheeses finishing in the final top three, state producers dominated the competition, earning 45 gold medals out of 132 categories.

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This decision is unprecedented for Wisconsin's largest university and taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.

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The closure order, to take effect no later than 5 p.m. on March 18, affects nearly 1 million Wisconsin children in grades K-12 in public and private schools.

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One was a man in his 50s from Fond du Lac County; the other was a man in his 90s from Ozaukee County.

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David A. Kahl, 53, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide.

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Tony Evers’ “safer at home” order represents a shift from the governor's position last week, when he said he did not plan on issuing such an order.

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Most voting locations saw few lines and smooth operations. But other places, notably Milwaukee, experienced significant delays, chaos and conditions that made it impossible for some voters to cast a ballot.

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Jill Karofsky's win over Dan Kelly cuts the court's conservative majority to 4-3, giving liberals a chance to take back control in 2023.

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The U.S. Air Force announced the final selection of the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing, capping more than three years of study and deep community division over the planes, which come with the promise of jobs and new construction but also noise and pollution.

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While applauded as a good first step, Democratic members, as well as public safety and health officials, have criticized the bill for not allocating more state funding to respond to the pandemic.

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For 30 years, "Ms. Milele" was the publisher of UMOJA magazine and a prominent leader in Madison's black community. She was "short in stature but mighty in force." 

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Free community testing for COVID-19 started at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison on Monday morning.

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Gov. Tony Evers and legislative Republicans will need to work quickly to come up with a replacement plan.

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The Vilas Zoo, Goodman Pool, beaches and movie theaters are among the places not opening yet.

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There were signs early Sunday that the violence was spreading into other parts of the city.

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"It’s clear they have important process issues to work out," the candidate said.

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School Board President Gloria Reyes said the decision to pull police from Madison's four main high schools is effective immediately. 

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The Madison School Board chose Carlton Jenkins, a superintendent of a suburban Twin Cities school district, over another finalist for the job. He starts Aug. 4.

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As a Dane County public health order requiring face coverings in all indoor spaces outside the home took effect Monday, businesses offered mixed views on mandates, though for many retailers it was business as (the new) usual.

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There was no update on the second victim from the shooting at Schroeder Road and Chapel Hill Road Saturday night. 

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Travis M. Christianson, 44, is tentatively charged with first-degree intentional homicide.

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Republican President Donald Trump also has caused controversy for saying he might deliver acceptance speech at White House.

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The girl was in a car that was struck by gunfire late Tuesday morning on East Washington Avenue.

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The conference decided — after meetings between presidents and athletic directors, and outcry from players, coaches, politicians and fans — to cancel the fall sports season and will attempt to move football to the spring semester.

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"The video that came out of Kenosha is absolutely horrific. I don’t understand how people can watch it and not be here," one Madison protester said. 

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The fifth-seeded Heat finished off an upset of the NBA’s best regular-season team Tuesday, topping the Milwaukee Bucks 103-94 in Game 5 of their East semifinal series — while Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league’s reigning MVP, couldn’t play because of a sprained right ankle.

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UW-Madison is pausing in-person instruction for at least two weeks and quarantining more than 2,200 students living in two dorms.

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Police are not recommending charges against Althea Bernstein, saying there is a difference between someone trying to deceive law enforcement and not being able to corroborate a report of a crime.

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The alternate care facility at State Fair Park in West Allis may begin taking patients Thursday.

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A small crowd Downtown Saturday morning before the race was called turned into hundreds of people honking horns, cheering and waving signs after Biden was declared the winner, while some Trump supporters turned out in protest.

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"We understand the eyes of the world will be on these Wisconsin counties over the next few weeks,"  Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe said.

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St. Mary's and Meriter expect to get vaccine soon.

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The flurry of activity caps off a tumultuous post-election saga in Wisconsin that has now concluded.

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A look back at the year 2020 through the lens of Wisconsin State Journal photographers John Hart, Amber Arnold and Steve Apps

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