Gov. Scott Walker raised more than twice as much campaign cash as his likely Democratic challenger Mary Burke during the first half of this year, fundraising numbers released Wednesday by both campaigns show.
The first-term Republican governor reported having about three times as much cash on hand as Burke heading into July.
Walker reported bringing in more than $8.2 million between January and June of 2014, compared to the more than $3.6 million Burke said she had raised. And the governor reported having $7.6 million cash on hand, compared to Burke’s approximate $2.5 million.
“These are staggering sums of money that both candidates have raised,” said Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
Both campaigns released their numbers nearly two weeks before the state’s July 21 deadline. Burke released her numbers first, and was soon followed by Walker.
“It’s July, but what’s significant is that Burke is raising substantial amounts of money,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “Having said that, it’s always nicer to have more money than your opponent.”
Walker, widely considered to be a 2016 Republican presidential hopeful, is seeking a second term in office after surviving a heated — but ultimately unsuccessful — recall attempt in 2012. It is the first time Burke, a Madison School Board member and former Trek Bicycle executive who previously served as commerce secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, is running for a statewide office.
Burke campaign spokesman Joe Zepecki said she had not contributed any of her own money between January and June of this year.
“Due to the overwhelming support Mary has received, there has been no need for additional contributions to this point,” Zepecki said. “As she has said all along, she is committed to doing more and will do more before the race is over.”
Burke has raised $5.4 million since she launched her gubernatorial bid last fall, including about $400,000 she contributed to her campaign.
But the Walker campaign said the numbers showing his campaign fundraising is dwarfing his likely opponent’s campaign coffers indicate the momentum in the race is behind him.
“The $5 million gap in cash on hand shows the extraordinary enthusiasm behind Gov. Walker’s campaign to continue moving Wisconsin forward,” Walker campaign manager Stephan Thompson said.
And Joe Fadness, executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said her lack of personal spending in the race spelled trouble for her.
“Democratic Party bosses went to extreme lengths to clear the field for Mary Burke with the expectation that she would use her fortune to self-fund her campaign, but her lackluster finance report suggests one of two things: either Burke doesn’t have the personal resources she promised to utilize or she isn’t willing to make an investment in her losing venture,” Fadness said in an email.
But Sabato said it was too early to predict how much money Burke planned to spend.
“Well, she’s wealthy. But how wealthy is she? She may be saving her contributions for a later time,” Sabato said. “Maybe you save it for October. We don’t know what she is really willing to give.”
Mordecai Lee, a UW-Milwaukee political science professor, said “it’s sort of a sad day when $2 million-plus is not a nice amount of money in Wisconsin politics,” but added that Walker is a “fabulous politician and a terrific fundraiser.
“I think she’s still very much in the game,” Lee said of Burke. “Democrats could be pleased to be at this monetary disadvantage but be even in the polls.”