February 13, 2016

Big financial edge for incumbents

Heading into the November elections, incumbent state lawmakers will have a huge financial advantage over their challengers.

Lawmakers seeking re-election to the state Legislature this fall will be able to outspend their opponents by a ten to one margin; about $3.1 million for incumbents, compared to about $327,000 for challengers. Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign says that means incumbents will get to do most of the talking in the weeks and months to come, while their challengers will have a hard time doing the same.

McCabe admits is nothing new in state elections, although he notes it’s the biggest cash advantage for incumbent lawmakers in ten years. He says that’s a little surprising, considering candidates and interest groups spent nearly $90 million on the six recall elections earlier this summer.

McCabe says the deck is stacked against challengers and its up to the public to push for change. He says the way the system is set up right now, through campaign committees and parties being able to draw safer districts every ten years, few incumbents are willing to give up their advantage.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:17)

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