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State GOP candidates have more cash than Dems

Republican incumbents up for re-election to the Wisconsin state Senate this fall, on average, had almost twice as much money in the bank heading into 2020 as their Democratic colleagues, according to a check of finance reports.

The GOP incumbents reported an average of $87,716 cash on hand to end 2019, compared to $46,615 by Dems.

That calculation doesn’t include GOP state Sen. Tom Tiffany, who is currently running for the 7th Congressional District and had $132,563 in his state account at year’s end. That’s after returning $51,195 to contributors starting in September as he launched his congressional bid.

It also doesn’t include Democratic Sen. Lena Taylor, who’s running for Milwaukee mayor this spring, and had $2,868 cash on hand. Nor does it include Sen. Dave Hansen, who announced last week he will not seek re-election in November. The Green Bay Democrat had $40,577 cash on hand to end the year.

On the GOP side, freshman Sen. Pat Testin, of Stevens Point, had the top war chest among those up for re-election at $237,688. He raised $49,161 for the period and spent $11,478.

Topline numbers for other candidates to watch in 2020 include: -- Sen. Patty Schachtner, D-Somerset, raised $46,548 for the six-month period, spent $2,759 and had $72,264 cash on hand. She’s a top GOP target this fall.

-- Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, who won re-election by 61 votes in 2016, raised $56,130 and spent $7,125 for the period. The La Crosse Democrat had $109,481 in the bank.

Swing Left, a progressive political group, this week announced it was targeting Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, this fall as part of its efforts in Wisconsin. The Joint Finance co-chair raised $60,320, spent $24,364 and had $142,936 in the bank.

Democratic Sen. Fred Risser, the longestserving state lawmaker in the nation’s history, reported no fundraising activity in the second half of 2019. The Madison Dem said it was too early to talk about whether he would run for reelection after he reported in July that had collected no contributions in the first half of the year and finished the period with $3,161 in the bank.

Assembly breakdown

Republican Rep. Jim Ott and Democratic Rep. Nick Milroy, expected to be among the top targets in the Assembly this fall, showed negligible activity on the fundraising front over the last six months of 2019.

Ott, R-Mequon, reported raising $150 between July 1 and Dec. 31. He spent $2,638 and finished the period with $2,642 in the bank.

Milroy, D-South Range, wasn’t challenged in 2018. But President Trump narrowly lost his district in 2016, and Republicans have been eyeing his seat. He didn’t report any contributions for the six-month period and had $3,345 in the bank.

Other Assembly members were much more active. Here are summaries from state reps who may have to fend off challenges this fall, in order of district number: -- Rep. Rob Hutton, R-Brookfield, raised $3,800, spent $1,200 and had $27,375 in the bank. -- Rep. Robyn Vining, a top GOP target, raised $41,258 and spent $5,535. The Wauwatosa Democrat had $51,631 in the bank.

-- Rep. Todd Novak, a perpetual Democratic target, raised $10,783 and spent $4,395. The Dodgeville Republican had $26,039 cash on hand.

-- Rep. Treig Pronschinske, R-Mondovi, didn’t report any contributions, spent $4,044 and had $8,186 in the bank.

-- Rep. Steve Doyle, D-Onalaska, raised $49,196, spent $4,270 and had $80,979 cash on hand.

Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, raised $51,485 and had $345,118 in the bank, by far the biggest war chest in the chamber. By comparison, Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, raised $1,880 and had $56,890 in the bank. For the same period two years earlier, Hintz raised $15,555 and had $40,862 cash on hand.

The Capitol Report is written by editorial staff at, a nonpartisan, Madison-based news service that specializes in coverage of government and politics, and is distributed for publication by members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

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