Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker talks with Todd Zakreski, right, president… (Charles Auer / Waukesha…)
MILWAUKEE -- If the ability to raise money is the be all and end all of politics — as some swear it is -- then Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has all but sewed up next Tuesday’s historic recall battle with Democrat Tom Barrett, the Milwaukee mayor.
Newly released numbers show Walker has raked in more than $20.7 million since the first of the year, more than $5.1 million in the last month alone. Barrett’s campaign was slower to file its official paperwork with Wisconsin campaign finance authorities, but a spokesman claimed the Democrat had brought in $3.1 million over the most recent filing period.
One glimmer of good news for Barrett was that his campaign said it had $1.5 million in cash for advertising or whatever in the final days before the vote, almost matching the $1.6 million that Walker reported he had still available in his campaign treasury.
That near parity, however, may be misleading. Walker, who has gained rock star status among conservatives across the nation for his take-no-prisoners fight with public employee unions, has demonstrated an ability to bring in large donations from around the nation. That probably won’t let up in the final days of the battle even though the take could be held down by more stringent fundraising limits in play now for Walker than earlier in the recall process.
Several contributions of $100,000 or more poured into Walker’s coffers before Barrett was anointed his Democratic rival this month. The Republican’s biggest benefactors included Bob Perry, the Texas homebuilder who in 2004 helped bankroll a group that cast doubt on the war record of decorated Democratic nominee John Kerry; Foster Friess, the wealthy investor who was a major financial backer for Rick Santorum’s presidential drive; Sheldon Adelson, the Nevada casino mogul who did the same for New Gingrich; and Patrick Ryan, the Illinois insurance executive who has long been close to former Democratic Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
Walker also enjoys a big edge in spending support from conservative-leaning independent fundraising groups.