Mon June 25, 2012
Personal wealth plays big role in Wisconsin political races
The Republican primary for U.S. Senate is less than two months away. One of the wild cards is how much personal wealth some of the candidates will sink into the race.
Personal wealth has been a big factor in Wisconsin's U.S. Senate races. Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson's ability to self-finance his campaign helped him come out of relative obscurity to defeat Russ Feingold in 2010. Democratic U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl's personal wealth helped him launch his political career and helped him fend off challengers over his several terms in office.
There are a few millionaires running for U.S. Senate this year on the Republican side. Reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission show hedge fund manager Eric Hovde had already contributed $1.5 million to his campaign by the end of March. Former Congressman Mark Neumann spent millions on his failed bid for governor in 2010 and won't rule out spending money on his Senate race: “I would not say final decisions on all of that are made, but I will say this. We are going to communicate our conservative message of balancing the budget by cutting spending and ending Obamacare to the voters of this state”
Neumann had not given money to his Senate campaign as of his last federal report.
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson has not historically self-financed his races, although he reported a net worth of roughly $13 million earlier this year. Federal figures showed he'd given $25,000 to his Senate campaign. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald is the only non-millionaire running among the four Republicans and had spent no personal money on his Senate race.
On the Democratic side, Tammy Baldwin reports personal assets of between $500,000 and $1 million in a blind trust. So far she's given no money to her own campaign.