Wisconsin Watch is a nonprofit and nonpartisan newsroom. Subscribe to our our newsletter to get our investigative stories and Friday news roundup. This story is published in partnership with The Associated Press.
Outside special interest groups spent at least 50% more than the previous record high in the midterm election in Wisconsin this year, pouring more than $93 million into races for governor and other state offices, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reported Monday.
The largest majority of money, nearly $79 million, was spent on the governor’s race won by Democratic incumbent Gov. Tony Evers over Republican challenger Tim Michels.
The previous record of nearly $62 million was set in the 2018 midterm election. Spending by outside groups that operate under different rules that candidates has been increasing exponentially in recent years. In 2010, for example, just $19 million was spent by the groups, according to the Democracy Campaign, an independent group that tracks campaign spending.
In total, 35 groups spend just over $48 million to help Republicans, while 36 groups spent $44 million to benefit Democrats, the Democracy Campaign said. The Democratic Governors Association spent the most, at just over $20 million, followed by $15 million by the Republican Governors Association.
The spending totals do not include races for the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House. The figures do include the races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer and all legislative races.