Campaign finance requirements govern the raising and spending of money for political campaigns. While not the only factor in an election’s outcome, successful fundraising can provide a candidate with advantages, such as the ability to boost name recognition and promote a message. In addition, fundraising can indicate enthusiasm for candidates and parties.
This article lists the top individual fundraisers in Wisconsin by their party affiliation as well as the top ten fundraisers overall. It is based on campaign finance reports that active Wisconsin candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. It includes activity between Jan. 1, 2021, and June 30, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.
Top Wisconsin Fundraisers
The top fundraisers in Wisconsin elections are shown below. For the purpose of this article, fundraisers may include individuals who are on the ballot this election cycle as well as those not currently running for office but who have received contributions during this reporting period. Individuals are listed with the office that they held at the time of publication, if applicable.
In the Democratic party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:
- Tony Evers (Governor) – $5,015,693
- Josh Kaul (Attorney General) – $410,924
- Melissa Winker – $154,692
- Mandela Barnes (Lieutenant Governor) – $80,019
- Sara Rodriguez (State Assembly, District 13) – $58,692
In the Republican party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:
- Ryan Owens – $308,741
- John Jagler (State Senate, District 13) – $197,432
- Howard Marklein (State Senate, District 17) – $113,796
- Devin LeMahieu (State Senate, District 9) – $67,858
- Elijah Behnke (State Assembly, District 89) – $64,890
Overall, the top Wisconsin Democratic candidate PACs raised $5.72 million in this period. The top Republican candidate PACs raised $752,716. Wisconsin candidate PACs in the Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, filing period raised a total of $12.04 million. Combined, these Wisconsin candidates account for 54% of total fundraising.
Contributions to the top five Democratic candidates made up 93% of the total amount reported by their party’s campaigns. Contributions to the top five Republican fundraisers comprised 45% of the total amount reported by Republican campaigns.
The table below provides additional data from the campaign finance reports from the top ten fundraisers. For more information on fundraising and spending for Wisconsin races on the 2022 ballot, click here.
|Name||Party Affiliation||Raised this period||Spent this period|
|Tony Evers||Democratic Party||$5,015,693||$1,081,156|
|Josh Kaul||Democratic Party||$410,924||$107,816|
|Ryan Owens||Republican Party||$308,741||$59,125|
|John Jagler||Republican Party||$197,432||$225,493|
|Melissa Winker||Democratic Party||$154,692||$122,731|
Campaign Finance Reporting Periods
The reports filed with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission cover Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021. Candidate PACs in Wisconsin must file semiannual financial reports of their fundraising and campaign spending. During election years, candidate PACs also file additional financial reports before primary and general elections.
The next semiannual campaign finance reporting deadline for Wisconsin legislators and candidates will include activity between July 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021.
This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.