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Advocacy groups seek to raise $3.5 million for Baldwin’s U.S. Senate bid

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
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A trio of advocacy groups has launched an independent expenditure campaign with a goal of raising $3.5 million to help Rep. Tammy Baldwin in her bid to become the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate.

The campaign — a collaboration of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, EMILY’s List and the Human Rights Campaign — is called the “WISCONSIN WOMEN VOTE!” project.

Michael Key, Washington Blade

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.)

Jeff Spitko, senior vice president of external affairs at the Victory Fund, said the campaign involves raising money in addition to creating TV ads, a website and an online campaign targeting female swing voters statewide.

“The initial push is the launch of the website and … we’re starting to go out on television,” Spitko said. “We’ll continue that same thing in August and September and also appropriate those online initiatives and direct mail initiatives.”

As of last week, Spitko said the organizations have raised about $1 million, but are looking to raise $3.5 million as soon as possible over the course of Baldwin’s campaign.

“The sooner the money’s in play the more effective we’ll be in getting out the message,” Spitko said. “All three organizations are really having a fundraising push in order to make sure that the funds are there to support Tammy. All three of us have a vested interest and want to make sure that we have an authentic voice in the Senate on Election Day.”

Baldwin has no competition for the Democratic nomination to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate. But it’s unclear whom she’ll face in the general election because of the crowded Republican field. Eric Novde, a hedge fund manager, is a newcomer to the race and has become a popular figure in the Republican primary. Other Republicans in the running are former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, former congressman and gubernatorial candidate Mark Neumann and State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald.

The memo dated July 11 announcing the partnership addresses the threat that Republican challengers present to Baldwin, saying they’re beholden to conservative interests.

“In the last couple of weeks, the radical right, led by the Koch Brothers and their front groups Americans for Prosperity and American Commitment began an all-out assault on Tammy Baldwin, spending over $1 million on the air in Wisconsin to distort her record,” the memo states. “Not only that, but the two main contenders for the Republican nomination, former Governor Tommy Thompson and hedge-fund manager Eric Hovde have dumped millions on television to earn the right to take on Tammy in the fall.”

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