MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Pat Roggensack on Monday reported having more than three times as much money as her closest challenger heading into next week's primary election.
A third Supreme Court candidate isn't even bothering to seek donations anymore.
Roggensack's financial edge has allowed her to air a television commercial before either of her rivals - Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone and Milwaukee consumer law attorney Vince Megna. The Wisconsin chapter of the conservative group Club for Growth also is running an ad supporting Roggensack, who is generally viewed as a part of the court's four-justice conservative majority.
Megna has tried to shake up the officially nonpartisan race by declaring himself a Democrat, taking stands on issues and urging the others to do the same. So far, it hasn't helped him raise money or generate endorsements.
Megna reported no fundraising over the first five weeks of the year. And all the prominent Democratic endorsements so far have gone to Fallone.
Roggensack reported that she had $219,000 cash on hand as of Feb. 4 and had raised more than $201,000 over the reporting period. Fallone had nearly $64,000 on hand and raised nearly $75,000. Megna raised nothing and had just $5,300 cash on hand.
Megna's lack of fundraising shows that his campaign isn't resonating, said Roggensack's adviser Brandon Scholz.
"When a candidate runs for office and there is no financial support, you do have to wonder what the strategy of the campaign is," Scholz said.
While Megna had no donors, Roggensack got money from 2,265 individuals. That includes $250 from Justice David Prosser, a former Republican speaker of the state Assembly, and $20,000 from school choice supporters including $3,850 from George and Susan Mitchell, the former president of School Choice Wisconsin. She also got $1,500 from the Washington County Republican Party and $1,000 from the Republican Party of Kenosha County.
Megna, who has received the fewest endorsements of any of the candidates, said he didn't know if his campaign strategy to defer fundraising efforts until after the primary will work. He has loaned his campaign $10,000.
"I hate asking people for money," said Megna, who has made his career defending consumers frequently in cases in which they purchase faulty vehicles. "This will be a necessary thing once the primary's over, undoubtedly."
Megna lists endorsements from Michael Skwierawski, retired chief judge for Milwaukee County; DeVonna Joy, a lawyer and owner of the Consumer Justice Law Center in Muskego; and Rosemary Shahan, an auto consumer advocate and president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety which is based in California.
Fallone has scored much more prominent backers from such Democrats as former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and current U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee. He also has a host of unions backing him, including the state AFL-CIO, the Wisconsin chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, the Service Employees International Union and the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the statewide teachers union.
Fallone's financial support included $500 from Democratic state Rep. Fred Kessler of Milwaukee and $5,000 from Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, a Democrat.
Fallone spokesman Nate Schwantes said he would have enough money to be competitive, and they were also relying on their backers spreading the word through phone banks and other means less costly than television advertising.
"There's a large of coalition of regular working folks who are supporting Ed's campaign," Schwantes said.
Roggensack's endorsements include the Milwaukee police and firefighter unions; Wisconsin Right to Life; former state Supreme Court Justices William Callow, Louis Ceci, Donald Steinmetz and Jon Wilcox; and more than 50 county sheriffs.
The top two vote-getters in the primary will face each other in the April 2 general election.
Also Monday, incumbent state superintendent Tony Evers reported having more than three times as much cash on hand than his challenger, Republican state Rep. Don Pridemore.
Evers reported raising about $48,500 over the first five weeks of the year compared with $2,400 for Pridemore. Evers had just over $100,000 cash on hand compared with about $33,500 for Pridemore.
Evers is running for a second term in the nonpartisan position.
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