Governor Scott Walker is not trying to win the Wisconsin recall election that will be held June 5.
He is trying to buy it.
If the embattled governor does prevail, he will provide essential evidence not of his own appeal but of the power of money to define our politics.
On the other hand, if Walker is defeated, a template will have been developed for a people-power, message-power politics that might be able to challenge big money.
And there is no question that what is in play is very big money.
Walker’s campaign finance disclosure forms reveal that, as of May 21, Walker has raised more than $30 million for the June 5 fight he was forced into when more than 900,000 Wisconsinites petitioned for a new election.
An additional document (required for fundraising in amounts greater than $500 since May 21) reveals that Walker has collected at least $800,000 more since the formal filing.
So the governor confirms taking in more than $31 million. That’s the most money ever raised by a candidate for public office in Wisconsin. And he continues to raise money at an unprecedented rate—taking in $5.2 million between April 24 and May 21.
That means Walker is grabbing checks at a rate of roughly $180,000 a day, roughly $7,700 an hour, roughly $130 a minute.
And he is grabbing them from some of the biggest donors in the country, in amounts of as much as $500,000.
Exploiting a loophole in Wisconsin election law—which removes contribution limits for officials seeking to prevent a recall election—the governor has raised unlimited amounts of cash from wealthy donors. Even after the recall election was scheduled, twenty-three wealthy donors gave the governor an addition $1.7 million to offset expenses run up before the recall was scheduled and contribution limits went back into effect. (Among the expenses the campaign is covering are contributions— $160,000 so far—to Walker’s criminal defense fund. That money is paying for top lawyers who are helping him address issues raised by a John Doe inquiry into wrongdoing by Walker’s former aides and donors.)