MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has raised more than $13 million in three months for a recall election, a jaw-dropping feat that easily shattered the fundraising record he set last year.
Walker became the target of a recall election after he pushed through legislation last year eliminating most public workers’ union rights. His showdown with labor leaders and their Democratic allies made him a celebrity in Republican circles and enabled him to rake in campaign cash never before seen in Wisconsin.
He set a record for fundraising for a state office last year, when he pulled in $12.1 million. But that paled next to his fundraising so far this year. Campaign finance reports filed with state elections officials Monday show he collected $13.1 million between Jan. 18 and April 23.
A special state law allowing recall targets to raise unlimited amounts of money in their campaigns’ early days helped Walker, but the pace of his fundraising underscores how beloved the governor is in conservative circles nationwide.
He attended a Christmas party thrown by conservative power broker Grover Norquist and raised money with Hank Greenberg, founder and former CEO of American International Group, at his Manhattan office. He was in Oklahoma last month, mingling with the corporate elite and top Republicans at a fundraiser co-sponsored by Koch Industries, the oil company led by billionaire brothers who are top backers of conservative causes nationwide.
Walker faces political agitator Arthur Kohl-Riggs in a May 8 Republican primary. Five candidates are running in the Democratic contest. The survivors from both sides will face off in a June 5 general election. None of Walkers’ competitors have been able to keep up in the money race.
Kohl-Riggs reported raising just $2,045 dollars from Jan. 1 through April 23, giving him little chance against the governor. The two Democratic front-runners, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, didn’t come close to Walker’s totals: Falk’s report showed she raised about $977,000 between Jan. 1 and April 23. Barrett hadn’t filed a report by early Monday evening, but his campaign said he brought in $750,000.
Both Falk and Barrett’s campaigns issued statements accusing Walker of spending more time raising money than creating jobs in Wisconsin.
State law allows recall targets to collect unlimited amounts of contributions from the day a group registers against them until the state Government Accountability Board schedules the elections. The first recall committee registered with the board on Nov. 4. The board scheduled the elections on March 30, giving Walker’s donors months to funnel unlimited dollars to his campaign.
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