Wisconsin has kept its pursestrings tightly closed so far, as the presidential campaign has waged across the rest of the country.
All that, presumably, is about to change. The state's Feb. 19 primary is less than three weeks away; perhaps the financial floodgates will open then, as both parties have reduced their fields of candidates to manageable (although less-than-inspiring) levels.
So far, according to Federal campaign reports on the 2008 election cycle, Wisconsin has contributed just $4,648,288 to all campaigns and PACs, with $1,578,449 (34%) going to Democratic candidates and $1,963,019 (42%) going to Republicans.
That's a pittance compared to what the state contributed during the two most recent presidential election cycles: In 2000, state residents donated $11,046,959 to the election. In 2004, the amount more than doubled, with Wisconsinites ponying up $23,465,549. But it's early yet.
The good news is that with the race being waged elsewhere, few Wisconsin residents wasted much money on some of the campaigns that went nowhere ... the roster of barely-remembered debate participants known chiefly for their whining about being ignored at the far end of a string of podiums, candidates most notable for their interesting wives. (Yes, I mean you, Fred Thompson.) In all, there were 18 presidential candidates; nine have dropped out.
According to the New York Times this week, the top six candidates raised more than $400 million dollars -- and already have spent more than 80 per cent of it.
But here in Racine -- again, probably due to our disinterest in those early primaries -- not much money was raised, and very little went to Biden, Brownback, Dodd, Gravel, Hunter, Kucinich, Richardson, Tancredo or Thompson -- who, between them, raised more than $66 million on their Quixote-like ego-fueled quests.
That's peanuts compared to the candidates still in the race, of course. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has raised $91 million; Barack Obama, $80 million; and John Edwards, $30 million.
On the Republican side, Mitt Romney has raised $63 million; Rudy Giuliani, $47 million; John McCain, $32 million; Ron Paul, $8 million; Mike Huckabee, $2 million; and Alan Keyes found $22,768 behind a sofa cushion. Details of who has what left can be found HERE.
But back to Wisconsin donors: Just how much, and to whom, has Racine's money gone to? Glad you asked.
So far, in the 2008 election cycle (which includes all of 2007; reports were due to be filed by Jan. 15 but some of the latest figures we could find appear unchanged from the report we wrote in October), Racinians have contributed just $117,776, with $14,750 going to Democrats, $60,835 to Republicans and the rest to Political Action Committees.
The largest single recipient was the SC Johnson PAC, which received $26,275 from 16 donors (mostly employees), including $15,000 from Sam's widow, Gene, and their son, Curtis.
The next largest chunk of money, $25,514, went to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, who may need it (wink, wink) as at least two Democratic women are seeking the nomination to oppose him this fall. As of Sept. 30, Ryan had $1,560,998 in his campaign chest. His opponent in 2006, Dr. Jeffrey Thomas, raised $0, determined not to be beholden to anyone; Thomas' latest filing online shows debts of $363,968.
Sen. Russ Feingold collected $3,500, with $2,500 coming from Karen Johnson Boyd and her husband, Bill, former director of the Johnson Foundation.
Racinians sent a lot of money to Republican national and state campaign committees: $4,650 and $3,400 respectively.
Presidential candidates haven't gotten into Racine wallets to any great degree.
Obama is in the lead, having reported receiving $7,500 from here so far (with the lion's share -- $3,800 -- coming from Jeff Neubauer, former state rep. and party chairman, and his wife, Lisa, a newly appointed appeals court judge).
Hillary received a total of $1,250.
On the Republican side, Mitt Romney received $6,100 from Racine, with $4,200 of that coming from Helen Johnson Leipold and her hockey-team selling-and-buying husband Craig.
Ron Paul netted $4,600, from Fred and Sandra Young.
Realisitically, the primary season may all be over before Wisconsin's 40 convention delegates are chosen on Feb. 19. Between now and then, the following states will hold primaries or caucuses: South Carolina today, with 24 delegates; Florida on Tuesday, with 57; Maine's caucuses are Feb. 1, with 21 delegates at stake.
Then comes Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, with the following 20 states allocating 1,081 convention votes: Alabama, 48; Alaska, 29; Arizona, 53; Arkansas, 34; California, 173; Colorado; 46; Connecticut; 30; Delaware, 18; Georgia, 72; Illinois, 70; Massachusetts, 43; Minnesota, 41; Missouri, 58; Montana, 25; New Jersey, 52; New York, 101; North Dakota, 26; Oklahoma, 41; Tennessee, 55; Utah, 36; West Virginia, 30.
And still, it's not our turn!
Wisconsin voters must wait for Kansas, 39; Louisiana, 47; Washington, 40; District of Columbia, 19; Maryland, 37; Virginia, 33; and Guam, 9 before we get our share of automated phone calls and a say as to the major parties' nominees.
It could be worse: South Dakota voters don't weigh in until June 3.