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Advocacy Update: Getting Involved This Election Season

By Lorenzo Cruz

When it comes to elections — Wisconsin is largely known to be a battleground state, and it’s no surprise that the upcoming 2022 election looks no different. WBA predicts Wisconsin to yet again take the national stage as Republicans and Democrats fight for control of the state legislature, the East Wing, and U.S. Congress.

What to Expect

The GOP anticipates a possible red wave which could lead to veto-proof super majorities and a recapturing of the governor’s office. Democrats, on the other hand, look to keep Governor Tony Evers in office and block super majorities in both state houses. There are currently 29 seats in the legislature up for grabs due to retirements or legislators pursuing other offices. Twenty-two seats are in the state Assembly and seven seats are in the state Senate.

With the state’s congressional and legislative district maps set after state and U.S. Supreme Court intervention, elected officials now shift their focus into full election mode. Nomination papers were submitted on June 1 by all candidates. Over a dozen incumbents drew challengers for the August 9 primary.

Whom to Watch

The only Democrat incumbent to draw a primary opponent is Secretary of State Doug La Follette who faces Alexia Sabor, chair of the Democratic Party of Dane County.

Nine total GOP members of the state Senate and state Assembly are confronting primary challenges which include Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg). Other state GOP incumbents contending with primary challengers include Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), Rep. Joel Kitchens (RSturgeon Bay), Rep. Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva), Rep. Robert Brooks (R-Saukville), Rep. James Edming (R-Glen Flora), Rep. Treig Pronschinske (R-Mondovi), and Rep. Loren Oldenburg (R-Viroqua).

GOP challengers are campaigning on a variety of issues including, but not limited to: election integrity/reform, COVID-19 vaccine mandates, masking in schools, and incumbent leadership change.

On the federal side, U.S. GOP incumbents facing challenges in the August primary are Senator Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh), Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Glenbeulah), Rep. Tom Tiffany (RMinocqua), and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Green Bay). There is only one open seat without a primary or general election — Democrat Rep. John Brosthoff’s (D-Milwaukee).

Campaign strategists expect extraordinary amounts of political spending on state and federal races in Wisconsin. At a recent WisPolitics luncheon, GOP Party Chair Paul Farrow and Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler agreed that Wisconsin could see record-breaking spending for campaigns from outside groups, campaigns, and both parties in the area of $700 million. The incredible volume of television, radio, print, and social media advertisements for state and federal campaigns will increase exponentially at a blistering pace over the next several months.

How to Participate

As always, the WBA Advocacy Team urges the members to be engaged in the political process. Our state and federal elected officials shape public policy by passing legislation or administrative rules which greatly impact the banking industry.

There are two ways bankers can help make a difference on the advocacy front. The first is become an Advocacy Officer. Currently, over 100 banks across the state have already designated Advocacy Officers, representing more than 50% of all WBA-member banks. These officers serve as another powerful and relevant voice that helps amplify WBA’s message and raise the visible presence of the banking industry back home in the legislative district or in Madison on Capitol Day. This fiscal year, WBA hopes to continue to grow our ranks upwards until we have 100% participation.

The second way is to contribute to Wisbankpac — WBA’s state political action committee — or to the Alliance of Bankers for Wisconsin (ABW) — WBA’s state conduit. As you very well know, campaigns are extremely expensive. These political contributions help defray campaign-related expenses and support pro-banking and pro-business candidates.