Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's campaign for governor raised more than $750,000 in its first seven weeks, showing the campaign is likely to have financial muscle in spite of its late start last year.
In an e-mail thanking supporters, Barrett said his campaign now has more than $1.5 million in the bank, a significant start given that he did not declare candidacy for the Democratic primary until Nov. 15.
"That's a lot of money in a short period of time," said Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which closely tracks campaign donations. "I wouldn't go so far as to say it's unprecedented, but it certainly is eye-opening."
Barrett didn't release the full details on the donations his campaign and others will have to release to state election officials on Feb. 1 showing fundraising during the last half of 2009. Those figures will give a clearer picture of whether Barrett's fundraising relied more heavily on a smaller group of wealthy donors or a wider grass-roots group of small donors.
"These resources will be essential to sharing our message with voters across the state, and it would not have been possible without your commitment to our shared vision of expanding opportunity and prosperity for all of Wisconsin," Barrett wrote to supporters in the e-mail.
Barrett is the only big name in the Democratic primary. In the GOP race, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, who officially entered the race on April 28, is competing against former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann, who declared on Sept. 9. Neither campaign provided fundraising totals Wednesday.
"We are busy tallying the over 10,000 donations from across Wisconsin, and will release our numbers when they are ready," Walker campaign manager Keith Gilkes said in a statement.
Spokesman Chris Lato said the Neumann campaign expected to release its fundraising numbers within 10 days.
As of the end of June, Walker had $1.1 million in cash on hand while Barrett's mayoral campaign, which can transfer its money to the governor's race, had $840,000. Barrett spokesman Phil Walzak said the more than $750,000 in new donations didn't include fundraising by Barrett's mayoral campaign from July 1 through Nov. 14.
In the first six months of 2001, Scott McCallum raised about $1.9 million for his gubernatorial campaign, McCabe said. That happened after then-Gov. Tommy Thompson left to take a federal appointment and McCallum, then lieutenant governor, succeeded him and announced he would seek election to the office in 2002.