Wisconsin GOP Is Broke After Their Failed Bid to Reelect Scott Walker

Illustration for article titled Wisconsin GOP Is Broke After Their Failed Bid to Reelect Scott Walker
Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

In the wake of the Wisconsin GOP’s failed attempt to reelect slimeball Gov. Scott Walker, the party has fallen on financial hardship, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. After maxing out a credit card and failing to pay it off, the party has been charged $600 a month in interest, according to a draft of an internal report.


The financial review was commissioned by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and other top Wisconsin Republicans in the aftermath of their disastrous loss in the 2018 midterms. The final version of the report, missing some details about credit card spending, was released Monday.

In addition to showing the party was broke, the report also found that the state GOP was “recklessly reliant” on consultants who charged exorbitant fees up to $500,000.


The party also found that they failed to connect with women voters, possibly because there were barely any women involved in the actual campaigns.

“On our side, one cannot look at the number of women hired as Party staff or included in high level campaign messaging and strategy sessions and make a straight-faced argument that we’ve done enough to include a group that represents approximately 52% of the vote,” the report says.

This is a pretty harsh self-analysis from the state’s GOP, which lost every single one of its statewide offices to Democrats in 2018. The party says the critique is necessary.

“The post-election assessment was the first step in making necessary improvements to the RPW structure and operations following the disappointing losses of all our statewide candidates in 2018,” Sen. Johnson wrote in the report. “Appropriately, the report is brutally honest.”


According to the Wisconsin GOP’s last filing with the state’s Ethics Commission, it had paid ten consultants a whopping fee of $289,104 between September 1st and October 22nd of 2018. These consultants “had few, if any, discernible job responsibilities or expectations of deliverables,” the report says.

The centrality of Walker’s campaign is blamed specifically for some of the party’s problems in the report. It says that the state party was “essentially outsourced” to his campaign and was “a top-down bureaucracy, disconnected from local activists [and] recklessly reliant on outside consultants.” The report says the reliance on consultants prevented the party from building “a farm team of future staff and young party leaders.”


In a statement, Walkers said the party “will need to continue to find ways to engage the grassroots in Wisconsin” if it wants to win in 2020.

The party also says it aims to make it “ok” to openly support Trump in the state.


“The old adage that ‘signs don’t vote’ is true. But because the left has developed a strategy of bullying and intimidation, we live in a time when people are afraid to publicly acknowledge they support President Trump,” the report says. “Yard signs can be a useful tool in building support by showing folks that it’s OK to come outside.”

The report doesn’t say how much debt the party is in, but party spokesman Charles Nichols told the Journal Sentinel that it surpassed $350,000 after the midterms.


“Credit card use, already excessive, became heavier in the final weeks of the cycle, to supplement spending on behalf of the gubernatorial campaign,” the report says.

“When cash flow problems started to occur, the credit card was used to supplement spending, which continued after the election. This resulted in a balance well over the card limit, which continued to rack up nearly $600 a month in interest charges as the balance went unpaid for months.”



But not to worry—billionaire Diane Hendricks is swooping in to save the beleaguered party. She donated half a million dollars to the state GOP in April.  


Though it’s amusing to read the details of mismanagement in this report, it should also be sobering for Democrats, who have faced many of the same issues with grassroots support, party centralization, and useless, overpaid consultants. And in the aftermath of Trump’s victory, the Democrats have not engaged in a clear-eyed look at what went wrong and how to fix it.

With 2020 now squarely in our sights, it’s probably time to take a page from the Wisconsin GOP playbook, do some serious self-crit, and make sure we never make the same mistakes we made in 2016 again.

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