Kelda Roys, aided by personal loan, leads Democratic gubernatorial candidates in fundraising

Kelda Roys

MADISON — Former state Rep. Kelda Roys, of Madison, led the field of eight Democratic candidates for governor in fundraising over the first six months of the year, thanks to a $255,000 personal loan she made to her campaign.

Roys raised nearly $677,000 through the end of June and had $667,000 cash on hand, the most of any Democratic candidate, according to reports filed with the state this week. She has now loaned her campaign a total of $350,000.

The fundraising totals provide a measurement for how the campaigns are doing exactly one month before the Aug. 14 primary. Cash on hand is a critical number, especially for the relatively unknown Democratic field, where the candidates will try to raise their profiles and sway voters with television ads in the coming weeks.

The Marquette University Law School will be releasing a new poll on Wednesday, providing yet another gauge of candidate strength.

On fundraising, Republican Gov. Scott Walker blew away the individual Democratic candidates, collecting $5.5 million over the six-month period. Since January 2017, Walker has raised about $12.6 million and has nearly $6 million cash on hand.

Collectively since their campaigns began, the eight Democratic candidates have raised $3.7 million and have $1.8 million cash on hand.

Roys’ campaign manager Sonja Chojnacki, noting that Roys spent money at a slower rate than her Democratic opponents, said she was running “the most disciplined campaign of the cycle.”

“Our team is not wasting money on fancy office space or an army of high-priced consultants,” Chojnacki said. “We’ll be spending our money where it counts: getting our message out to voters.”

Roys said last week after a Democratic debate that she would start television advertising “very shortly.”

In addition to her loans, Roys also received $84,000 from EMILY’s List, a group that backs pro-abortion rights female candidates. It has endorsed Roys in the race. She also got $5,000 from NARAL Pro-Choice America.

State firefighters union leader Mahlon Mitchell raised the second highest amount this year, $524,000, and the most since the campaign began at about $834,000. He benefited from nearly $391,000 in contributions from unions over the past six months. He’s also spending a lot more than Roys and has just $368,000 cash on hand.

Mitchell’s spokeswoman, Kirsten Allen, said she thinks self-funding and then spending big on television ads at the end of the race is a “failed strategy.” She said Mitchell is spending his money now to build a campaign that will win, with two field offices and staff dedicated to community organizing.

Other highlights from the Democrats’ reports for the first six months of the year:

— State Superintendent Tony Evers raised $496,000 and has $307,000 cash on hand. He loaned his campaign $100,000.

— Former state Democratic Party leader Matt Flynn raised $337,000 and has $403,000 cash on hand. He also loaned his campaign $100,000, on top of $40,000 he previously gave.

— Political activist Mike McCabe raised $156,000 and had $68,000 cash on hand. He loaned his campaign $35,000, bringing his total in personal loans to $60,000.

— Madison Mayor Paul Soglin raised nearly $116,000 and had about $58,000 cash on hand. Soglin, 73, announced Tuesday that he would remain in the governor’s race but not seek re-election as mayor next year. He’s been mayor for 22 years, off and on, since 1973 and is the longest-serving mayor in Madison history.

— State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout raised nearly $90,000 and had just $21,000 in cash. She previously loaned her campaign $15,000.

— Corporate attorney and political newcomer Josh Pade raised about $11,600 and owed $23,000.