May 3, 2012

Wisconsin Recall Election A Preview Of 2012 Big Money To Come

Scott Walker
Wis. Gov. Scott Walker has raised a record amount of money for his recall election fight. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) is facing a recall election after he pushed through legislation last year that limited public workers’ bargaining rights. And now a special Wisconsin state law that allows recall targets to raise unlimited amounts of money in the early days of the campaign has helped Walker raise an unprecedented amount of money.

The Associated Press reports:

Walker set the record for a state office with $12.1 million raised last year. Campaign finance records filed Monday show he has already easily surpassed that this year, raising $13.1 million between Jan. 18 and last week. He spent nearly $11 million and had almost $4.9 million in the bank.

Walker is beloved by rich conservatives — as the AP writes his “fan list reads like a who’s who of some of the richest people in America” including casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Richard DeVos, owner of the Orlando Magic NBA team, and the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.

If wealthy big donors have sided with Walker, unions have been mustering efforts to get Walker. The Walker vote has been “billed as a critical test of labor muscle versus corporate money,” write Jim Rutenberg and Steven Greenhouse at the New York Times. “But it is only a warm-up for a confrontation that will play out during the presidential election…:”

The same national groups flooding the streets and the airwaves in Wisconsin — the Koch-supported group Americans for Prosperity on the right, the A.F.L.-C.I.O., teachers unions and the United Steelworkers on the left — are emerging as important outside supporters of President Obama and Mitt Romney, each side empowered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

That ruling is not only giving wealthy donors like the Kochs greater options for pouring tens of millions of dollars into the presidential election. It is also giving unions — many of them representing workers in some of the major donors’ own factories — the ability for the first time ever to spend money from union treasuries for campaigning among nonunion voters.

Unlike in the presidential election, not one of Walker’s opponents has come close to raising the millions he’s made off his ties to corporate donors.