By State Representative, Leon D. Young
The gubernatorial race in Wisconsin is finally heating up.
True enough, the General Election showdown between Scott Walker and Mary Burke is still three months away.
However, according to the latest Marquette University Law School poll, the candidates now find themselves lock in a statistical dead-heat.
Governor Walker and his reelection campaign have been exceedingly adroit at soliciting large campaign contributions from outside the Badger State.
After almost four year as governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker is still relying on out-of-state money to keep him in office.
In his latest campaign finance report filed last Monday, Walker reveals that 56 percent of the money he will use to try win re-election this year — $4.5 million — comes from individuals who do not live in Wisconsin and from special-interest groups that are not located in Wisconsin.
There’s no question that Wisconsin politics has been “nationalized” in recent years, especially after Walker imported a policy agenda that attacked unions, public education and public services. The governor made himself a “rock star on the right.”
And he continues to reap the benefits of that status. As an analysis by the group One Wisconsin Now noted, “Fully 52 percent of his money raised from individuals ($4 million) came from donations in excess of $1,000 and 106 individuals gave Walker the maximum allowable contribution of $10,000 in the last six months.”
Among the governor’s most generous benefactors were Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson, New York real estate magnate Donald Trump and Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens. Walker has spent much of his tenure nurturing relationships with wealthy residents of other states; he recently flew to Las Vegas to deliver a command performance at an event sponsored by Adelson.
In contrast, Walker’s Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, collected less than one third of her money — $1.1 million — from out of state.
Of the $3.6 million brought in by Burke donors living outside Wisconsin gave $1.2 million, or 34%, and in-state donors gave $2.4 million, or 66%. Moreover, there is no doubt that Burke, a millionaire in her own right, will be dramatically outspent in this gubernatorial race against Walker and his horde of billionaires.
Let’s not forget that the governor needs to keep on the good side of donors in Nevada, New York and Texas.
He has to have their support for the presidential run he hopes to mount in 2016. Unfortunately for the residents of Wisconsin, the interests of people this state seldom align with the financial and business interests of billionaires in Las Vegas and Manhattan Dallas.
And, as the governor proudly declared, “Wisconsin is now opened for business.”
It remains to be seen as to which of the highest bidders.