Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Recall Finance Reports

The campaign finance figures for the recounts that were released today really are eye-popping. I don't know what's more impressive: that Dan Kapanke has raised $725,000 or has already spent $600,000 of it.

The Journal Sentinel made a big deal about the GOP incumbents out-earning their Dem challengers (Headline: "Two GOP senators raise more funds than six Democratic challengers combined"), but that's dramatically under values the fundraising situations in the other races and the big picture.

Yes, Kapanke and Darling brought a boatload of money -- but all of that money doesn't seem to be doing Kapanke a damn lick of good.

In fact, there are only two GOP candidates who seem to be in relatively good positions. Sheila Harsdorf has a lot of cash on hand against a newby opponent with zero name recognition, but still only a 5 point lead in one poll. Alberta Darling has a ton of cash and no public polls forecasting doom ... yet.

But it's next to impossible to look at the remaining three GOP senators and not be gravely worried about their prospects for defeat. How can Bob Cowles get out-raised as badly as he's been by Nancy Nusbaum? Nusbaum is not someone the Dems plucked out of obscurity: she's a former Brown County executive who ran for congress in 2006 (and lost in the primary), so this ain't her first rodeo. And poor Luther Olsen getting trounced by Fred Clark? It's difficult to look at these two incumbents and not think that they are either not taking the threat against them seriously or underestimated their opponents.

This is particularly odd for Cowles, who ran unopposed in 2008, but whose senate district went slightly for Obama that same year. That could e an anomaly, but one would imagine being recalled would inspire him to prepare for every possible contingency. Olsen, on the other hand, seems to have been out of sorts from the very beginning of the recall process. It almost feels like he's a moderate being left for dead by the right wing of the party in some ways.

Then there's Randy Hopper. He's spent a lot of money and I haven't seen or heard a single campaign ad (though I have gotten a mailer or two). Hopper is on the wrong end of a cash-on-hand gap, down a few points in the polls, and, most importantly he appears utterly demoralized:

Frankly, Hopper said, he would prefer to have his election as soon as possible. He would hope that neither he nor his likely opponent, Jessica King, has a primary race.

"Let me freakin' be done," Hopper said.
So right now there seems like the GOP could lose up to four senate seats, and within the realm of possibility that they lose all six (absent more data from Darling's district, who knows?). Things seem so close in every district that, absent precedent, there's really no way to make a reliable prediction.

Except for one. Right now, there seems to be little chance that the GOP will pick up any Dem senate seats. Dave Hansen will likely coast against Mike VanderLeest after John Nygren's monumental signature fuck-up and it's probably a safe bet that Jim Holperin will have to contend with an equally serious candidate up North. Meanwhile, Bob Wirch will probably have to deal with an opponent who lives in Racine, but works as a corporate attorney ... in Chicago, so he's basically a FIP.

The lack of seriousness with which the GOP has treated the recall is really astonishing. If the Dems succeed in taking the Senate, you can bet your sweet ass they will go after Walker and the remaining senators come January, and they will have created the apparatus and infrastructure to do so successfully.

Of course, the third party nonsense hasn't even begun yet, so all of this talk could be for nothing.


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