MADISON — Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Lisa Neubauer managed to outpace opponent Brian Hagedorn in fundraising over the latest period, while at the same time enjoying a significant advantage from outside groups spending on her behalf.
The liberal-backed Neubauer, currently the chief justice of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, managed to take in $866,030 over the fundraising period spanning from Feb. 5 to March 18. During that same period, conservative-backed Hagedorn, an appeals court judge, managed to raise $747,182.
The money candidates raise and the money outside groups spend on their behalf can go toward advertisements online and on television and radio to sway voters, among other things. Money raised by campaigns can also go toward mailings to voters, polling, advisers and staff, among other things. While campaign finance is just one factor in determining a candidate’s chance of winning, strong fundraising is typically associated with success at the polls.
Neubauer has enjoyed a slight fundraising advantage throughout the campaign although Hagedorn raised more money during an earlier period this year. Since the beginning of 2019, Neubauer has raised just more than $1 million while Hagedorn has logged just under that figure. Over the complete course of the campaign, Neubauer has raised about $1.7 million and Hagedorn brought in about $1.3 million.
Neubauer also leads in the amount of campaign cash in her account with $615,436 left to spend, compared with Hagedorn’s $375,987.
The picture of outside spending in the race, however, is far more stark. The nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has reported that outside groups, mostly those aligned with liberal causes, have outspent the ones backing Hagedorn by a 14-to-1 margin. While the state Supreme Court race is technically nonpartisan, political parties and outside groups typically support a specific candidate through fundraising, advertising and party infrastructure.
Groups backing Neubauer have spent at least $1.2 million backing her, while those supporting Hagedorn, chiefly the conservative Americans for Prosperity, have so far spent $87,381 on mailings, canvassing and door hangers.
Neubauer has benefited from at least $835,000 in spending from the Greater Wisconsin Committee. The group is mostly funded by labor unions and ideological groups that support Democratic and left-leaning candidates.
And the National Democratic Redistricting Committee said earlier this month it would spend $350,000 to support Neubauer. The group is run by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to elect Democrats to state and federal offices and to promote redistricting reform.
Neubauer and Hagedorn will face off in a statewide election Tuesday.