Political candidates in northern and central Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District have raised more money than any other district in the state except one. But both candidates say they can't control the role money plays in politics.
Republican freshman Congressman Sean Duffy has raised twice as much money as his Democratic challenger Pat Kreitlow. So far this year, he’s raised $2.3 million compared to Kreitlow’s $1.1 million. But he says money will never replace the stump, “I’ve done the fairs, the parades, the festivals. I mean all of that is important. It shows how hard I work and how much I care about the place I grew up and the place I love. It’s all very important.”
But Duffy says raising money, lots of it, is a reality, especially in the 26 county 7th district which must feed four television markets (Duluth-Superior, Wausau, Eau Claire and the Twin Cities), “Make no mistake. We have some very well-funded SuperPACs that have come in and been running ads against us. Listen, I’d rather have resources to fight back and push back and we’ve done that.”
Kreitlow says the special interests are diving into this close race, “What you’re seeing really parachuting into these competitive districts is outside money. They see that you can make a difference in the make-up of the House of Representatives.”
As much as the two camps have raised, Kreitlow says the totals from SuperPACS will dwarf that, possibly reaching the $8-$10 million mark. And with that comes the negative ads that neither candidate can control, "We’re counting on voters to look through the clutter to look at the ads where the candidate is looking right at the camera and talking right to you, the way I have in my ads. I don’t show any grainy black and white footage of Congressman Duffy. It’s just me.”
The money continues to roll in to this largely rural district. Third quarter reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show both campaigns raised more money than in previous quarters.