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Wisconsin's Scott Walker poised to bury recall foes in money chase

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker raised $4.5 million in a recent five-week period – vastly more than his opponents. The sum might scare off unions from spending big money in a potential recall election.

By Staff writer / January 24, 2012

Gov. Scott Walker outlines phase one of his 'Wisconsin Working' plan at Phillips Plastics in Eau Claire, Wis., earlier this month. He is facing a potential recall election.

Steve Kinderman/Eau Claire Leader-Telegram/AP

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Chicago

Even though the election to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R) of Wisconsin is months away, it is already gearing up to be an expensive fight. 

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Governor Walker has raised more in campaign donations to fight the recall effort than he did to win his seat less than two years ago. In fact, his fundraising advantage over unions leading the recall effort is so massive that unions are now questioning how much they should try to compete.

With other states including Indiana, Ohio and Florida gearing up for antiunion fights, some labor leaders are wary of dumping valuable resources into Wisconsin. 

The AFL-CIO “always expects to be outspent,” spokesman Jeff Hauser told The Hill, Capitol Hill's newspaper. But Wisconsin is indicative of a deeper problem, he added, because “the margin of being outspent is greater in 2012 than it’s ever been before.”

With big business pushing Republicans nationwide to take on unions – the primary opposition to their pro-business agenda – antiunion measures are getting substantial financial backing. In Wisconsin, the disparities are stark. 

In a filing with the state’s election agency Monday, Walker disclosed that he raised about $4.5 million in the five-week period running between Dec. 11 and Jan. 17. During the past year, between Jan. 1, 2011, and Jan. 17, 2012, he raised a total of $12 million.

Walker has been actively campaigning on his record and courting donors since it became apparent last year a possible recall election loomed. In the past five weeks he spent about $4.9 million, leaving about $2.7 million in his campaign coffers.

By contrast, in the same recent five-week period, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin raised $394,213. United Wisconsin, an organization affiliated with labor unions, raised $86,379.

The recall effort is a result of public anger that developed a year ago when Walker pushed through a bill that limited collective bargaining for many public-sector unions. Wisconsin voters successfully removed two Republican state senators from office in a recall election last summer. This current recall effort also targets Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state senators.

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