$33 million spent so far in record-setting recall election - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

$33 million spent so far in record-setting recall election


(WAOW) -- In the state recall elections, Senate Republicans face their challengers on Tuesday. Democrat incumbents will fight for their spots next week. And campaign experts said this recall election isn't just breaking the bank, it's also breaking records.

With a reported $33 million spent across the state so far, donations have already shattered the state's record of $20 million set in the 2008 elections. That election included half the Senate and all the Assembly.

Leaders at the Government Accountability Board, or GAB, said if campaigns aren't telling voters whether or not to vote for a specific candidate, they can spend as much as they want. They said the ruling was based on a technicality and freedom of speech.

One ad on TV tells viewers Senator Jim Holperin's political plans can sink families in the Northwoods. At the end, it lists a phone number, but the special interest group didn't have to report how much they spent to state agencies.

"As long as those ads do not say vote for or against a candidate, the courts have said they cannot be regulated," said GAB staff attorney Michael Haas. "It's considered first amendment freedom of speech."

GAB leaders keep track of election spending, but these "issue ads" don't get counted in the final tally. Other ads, that explicitly tell voters whether to vote for or against a candidate, must report their totals.

Newsline 9 took a look at how much candidates have spent so far, not including individual interest groups.

Senator Jim Holperin (D) and challenger Kim Simac (R) lead the way in our area, running for the 12th District seat. GAB records show Holperin's team has received more than $494, 000 and spent about $183,138 already. Simac's supporters have donated more than $220,000 and her team has spent $171, 750 in their campaign efforts. Voters in parts of Vilas, Oneida, Forest, Lincoln, Langlade and Shawano counties can vote for them in next Tuesday's election.

In the southern part of our area, Senator Luther Olsen (R) faces off against Representative Fred Clark (D) for the 14th Senate District. Voters from parts of Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara and Adams counties head to the polls on Tuesday. Between the two of them, they've collected more than $465,000 and spent more than $300,000.

The last recall election, in the western part our area is for Senate District 2, which includes parts of Shawano county. Incumbent Senator Robert Cowles (R) reports gaining $177,496 and spending $88,451. Challenger Nancy Nusbaum (D) received $239,608 and spent $135,275 so far in the recall election.

Over the past 100 years, only 13 state lawmakers across the country have been recalled from office, including two from Wisconsin.

Online Reporter: Anna Carrera

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