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Outside groups spend $8.2m on Wisconsin legislative races

Associated Press

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Outside groups have spent more than $8.2 million to influence Wisconsin’s legislative races as of Monday, according to a new report.

Government watchdog group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s review found Democratic-leaning express advocacy groups have spent more than $5.3 million. Spending by Republican-leaning express advocacy groups has totaled nearly $2.9 million.

Express advocacy groups sponsor advertising that specifically call for people to vote for or against a candidate. Such groups spent $6.7 million total in the 2018 fall legislative races.

Northeastern Wisconsin’s 30th Senate District, where Democrat Jonathon Hansen and Republican Eric Wimberger are battling for an open seat, has seen the most spending at $993,000. Ten groups backing Hansen have spent $544,000. Four groups backing Wimberger have spent $449,000.

The race for an open seat in western Wisconsin’s 32nd Senate District has attracted the second-highest amount of outside spending at $782,000. According to the report, eight groups supporting Democrat Brad Pfaff have spent $639,000 and two groups supporting Republican Dan Kapanke have spent $142,900.

The biggest overall spender is A Better Wisconsin Together Political Fund, which supports Democratic candidates, at $2 million. The second biggest spender is Service Employee International Union, another Democratic supporter, at $847,000.

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