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Saturday, April 23, 2011

 11:37 AM 

Darling leads recall targets in fundraising so far

Most of the lawmakers targeted for recalls are taking advantage of state law that allows them to exceed normal contribution limits when facing removal from office, according to a WisPolitics check of campaign finance reports.

Joint Finance Committee Co-chair Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, leads the way for fundraising among recall targets with $188,226 through March 21. She also spent $15,579 and had $177,863 cash on hand. Her biggest donor was Daniel McKeithan of Tamarack Petroleum, who gave $20,000.

The normal contribution limits for state Senate candidates are $1,000 from an individual or a committee.

Darling’s report includes a number of heavyweights from the Milwaukee business community, including Bradley Foundation CEO Michael Grebe ($5,000) and Lubar & Co. founder and Chair Sheldon Lubar ($2,000). Her other largest donors include $11,000 from retiree Reid Marion and $10,000 from Joe Alexander of Alexander Management.

The reports for the GOP and Dem recall targets show some different trends.

Three of the four top fundraisers among the GOP targets are all members of the Joint Finance Committee, which is set to begin voting next week on the guv’s budget. In addition to Darling, Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac has raised $83,854 through March 21, while Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls raised $38,172.

Recall target Glenn Grothman of West Bend is also on the committee, though he represents a heavily Republican district and is not considered a top Dem target. Fellow committee member Luther Olsen of Ripon is one of three Republicans who have yet to file a fundraising report with the GAB. The others are Rob Cowles of Green Bay and Mary Lazich of West Bend.

Campaigns only had to file reports if they accepted or spent money on defending themselves from the recall efforts. The campaigns had until Friday to file reports covering activity between Jan. 1 and March 21. Reports are due Monday for activity between March 22 and April 18.

On the Dem side, Minority Leader Mark Miller of Monona, Spencer Coggs of Milwaukee and Fred Risser of Madison did not raise or spend any money related to the recalls and did not file reports. None is likely to face a recall election.

The reports from Dems who have filed have a more national flavor than their GOP counterparts. That’s in due to Dems’ success in fundraising through Act Blue during their boycott of the Capitol in an effort to stop a vote on the collective bargaining changes. The lawmakers and the state party were popular causes on the online fundraising clearinghouse during the national attention the self-imposed exile received, and most of their reports feature a slew of small-dollar donors.

Still, top Dem fundraisers Jim Holperin of Conover and Bob Wirch of Kenosha also listed significant PAC contributions from unions.

As of Friday, eight lawmakers eligible for recall have had papers filed against them. They are: Darling, Dave Hansen, Harsdorf, Holperin, Hopper, Kapanke, Olsen and Wirch.

Here’s a rundown of the fundraising numbers filed through Friday by the recall targets, listed according to the amount they raised:

*Randy Hopper, R-Fond du Lac, raised $83,854, spent $15,147 and had $82,206 cash on hand with $9,844 in debts. His largest donor was Ralph Stayer of Johnsonville Sausage, who gave him $15,000.

*Jim Holperin, D-Conover, raised $54,045, spent $4,589 and had $65,610 cash on hand. His biggest donation was $3,000 from Capital Area UniServ South, and he raised $9,750 from PACs.

*Bob Wirch, D-Kenosha, raised $43,027, spent $2,673 and had $93,206 cash on hand. His biggest donations were $3,000 contributions each from Capital Area UniServ North and South Lakes United Educators Politically Active and Concerned.

*Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse, raised $39,164, spent $2,103 and had $46,205 cash on hand. His biggest donor was Gunderson Lutheran physician Laurence Berg, who gave him $5,000.

*Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, raised $38,172, spent $15,612 and had $33,106 cash on hand between Jan. 1 and March 21. She has also already filed her report for the March 22-April 18 period, showing another $71,995 raised, $45,629 spent and $59,472 cash on hand. Her biggest donor in the latter period was retiree Grant Nelson, who gave her $20,000, while GOP state Sen. Mike Ellis’ committee gave her $5,000.

*Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, raised $36,269, spent $2,093 and had $140,778 cash on hand.

*Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, raised $34,297, spent $4,329 and had $120,366 cash on hand.

*Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, raised $16,753, spent $1,548 and had $22,595 cash on hand.

*Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee and a JFC member, raised $14,413, spent $339 and had $14,585 cash on hand.

Editor's note: This post was updated with Harsdorf's fundraising numbers from the Jan. 1 to March 21 period.

-- By JR Ross

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