More than $32 million was spent electing a governor in Wisconsin in 2006. And spending in the state attorney general race topped $8.3 million – five times more than was spent in the previous race in 2002. Apologists for the campaign arms race in Wisconsin elections like to claim that it's money well spent. Runaway spending is needed to ensure a robust debate on the issues and enable candidates to get their message about where they stand to the voters.
The smear campaigns that disfigured last fall's races for governor and attorney general were themselves the most effective counterargument to this nonsense. In the governor's race, both major party candidates and their special interest allies spent millions on ads saying the other guy was the bigger crook. Millions more were spent by both sides in the attorney general race claiming that their opponents would go easy on violent offenders, lacked concern for crime victims, were soft on illegal immigration and would let sexual predators roam free in neighborhoods.