MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Democratic Party said Tuesday that it raised more money from April to June than in any other three-month period in state party’s history, bolstering its bank account in this hotly contested presidential battleground state.
Democrats raised $10 million during the second quarter of the year, leaving them with $12 million cash on hand with the November election just five months away, party spokeswoman Courtney Beyer said.
“It means that people in Wisconsin and, frankly, across the country understand how important this election is,” Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said in an interview Tuesday.
President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016, and the state remains a focus for both his and Democrat Joe Biden ‘s campaigns this year. Recent polls have shown Biden with a lead, but polls four years ago also showed Democrat Hillary Clinton ahead of Trump at this point.
In addition to trying to win the state for Biden, Wisconsin Democrats are also working to prevent Republicans from winning three seats in the state Senate and three in the Assembly to gain veto-proof majorities. If Republicans do that, they would take away the power of Evers to veto bills they pass, including the legislative and congressional district maps that must be redrawn next year following the census.
Evers has made a a “Save the Veto” campaign a focus of the fundraising effort this year. He said he emphasizes in fundraising pleas that if Republicans gain that super majority, Democratic priorities such as expanding Medicaid and gun safety measures will never be enacted.
“People get it. There’s no question,” Evers said. “The Republicans got it last time, how important (redistricting) is and we got it now.”
Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Chairman Andrew Hitt responded to the Democratic haul with a plea for donations. Republicans faced a Wednesday deadline to report their totals to the state.
“Our ground game and data are far superior to the Democrats, but this is further proof that Wisconsin will determine who sits in the White House in 2021,” Hitt said in a statement. “This is the epicenter of the 2020 race, and conservative donors across the country need to put resources towards the Republican Party of Wisconsin.”
Wisconsin is one of a dozen targeted by the national Republican State Leadership Committee where it hopes to strengthen Republican redistricting power or dent that of Democrats. Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, of Janesville, along with former House speakers John Boehner and Newt Gingrich are advising that effort. Reince Priebus, the former Wisconsin Republican Party director who went on to lead the national party and serve as Trump’s first chief of staff, is on the committee’s board of directors.
And former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican who signed into law the GOP-drawn maps passed in 2011, is now working for the National Republican Redistricting Trust.
Democrats are also working nationally on redistricting, with former President Barack Obama and his former attorney general, Eric Holder, raising millions nationwide through a new Democratic group focused solely on state redistricting. Various Democratic-aligned interest groups also have begun pouring money into state legislative contests.
Evers, Democrats in the Legislature and liberals have pushed for a nonpartisan redistricting process in Wisconsin, only to be rebuffed by Republicans. Evers last week called for applications to serve on a nonpartisan redistricting commission he created, but the maps it draws are advisory only and the Legislature does not have to consider them when passing their plan.
Democrats fought the GOP-drawn maps in court from 2011 all the way until last year. Under those maps, Republicans have maintained majorities in the state Senate and Assembly and hold five of the state’s eight congressional districts.
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