Special Interests Funnel $25 Million Into Wisconsin Senate Recall Races

Thursday, 04 Aug 2011 05:10 PM

By Newsmax Wires

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The wide-open spigot that has channeled an estimated $25 million of special-interest donations into Senate recall elections in Wisconsin is making the candidates’ own fundraising efforts look like a trickle, according to a nonpartisan watchdog group in the Badger State. The cascade of money rivals even the contentious gubernatorial campaign last year.

"Already there has been more than $2 million spent on ads in Milwaukee," says Mike McCabe, executive director of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

"It doesn't matter what the candidates raise. They might as well be bystanders," McCabe told the Menomonee Falls patch.com website.

Special-interest groups are on pace to spend $25 million on the recalls, McCabe estimated. Expenditures of the candidates are expected to push the total campaign spending to $30 million.

“By comparison, the hotly contested 2010 race for governor that pitted Republican Scott Walker against Democrat Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett saw $34 million in spending,” the website reported.

On Tuesday, We Are Wisconsin, a political committee of unions that the AFL-CIO leads, reported that it raised $4.77 million in July, boosting its total to $9.72 million. The group has supported Democratic candidates in general and in the recall races.

The recalls are the political offshoots of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget cuts, including curbs on public employees’ collective bargaining, that created controversy and public demonstrations at the Capitol in February and March.

Democratic Sen. Dave Hansen retained his seat in the first recall among the nine slated for this month. Six Republicans face challengers in Aug. 9 recall votes, and two Democratic incumbents will be on the block in Aug. 16 elections.

Political control pivots on the outcomes, as Republicans now have a 17-14 majority in the state Senate and control the Assembly as well.

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