Tuesday’s recall election of Republican Gov. Scott Walker is the most expensive in Wisconsin history, with more than $63.5 million spent by candidates and independent groups mostly from sources from outside the state.
The amount shattered the state’s previous record of $37.4 million spent during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, and it highlights the national importance of the referendum as it is being framed as a battle between “money and the people.”
During the debates, Governor Walker vowed to “stand up and take on the powerful special interests,” claiming that national unions have helped his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
However, according to campaign filings released May 29, while Barrett has received just 26% of his campaign donations from outside the state, Republican Walker has received almost two-thirds of his contributions from out of state sources.
Since Walker limited collective bargaining rights for most public employees last year, the country’s three largest public unions — the National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) — have funneled at least $2 million from their super PACs to two Wisconsin.
They, however, have struggled to keep up with Walker’s deep-pocketed, anti-union friends. They include the Republican Governors Association, which received a $1 million contribution from conservative billionaire David Koch in February, and billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson.