Republican U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil didn’t do anything dramatic, like stand in front of a bank of cameras and say “It’s on!” after a Democrat last week announced her run for his seat in Congress. Instead, he talked about how much money his campaign has at its disposal.

Ann Roe of Janesville announced July 13 that she will run for the seat as a Democrat.

Three days later, Steil’s campaign organization issued a statement titled “Steil raises over half a million dollars in three months, has $900,000 cash on hand.”

The subtitle said Steil “remains well-positioned to defend the First Congressional District seat.”

The statement went on to say Steil, a Janesville attorney and businessman before his election in 2018, had raised more than $500,000 in the second quarter of 2021 and that Steil had the resources “to communicate his conservative agenda with First Congressional District voters.”

“I’m thankful for the early and overwhelming support I’ve received from grassroots supporters from across southeast Wisconsin. I will continue to work every day for our shared values of limited government, fiscal responsibility and common sense in Washington,” Steil said.

Not all of Steil’s contributors could be described as grassroots. Among those giving $5,000 to his campaign earlier this year were political action committees affiliated with Home Depot, the American Bankers Association, Amazon, Allstate Insurance and BMO Financial Corp.

Roe has not yet filed a financial statement with Federal Elections Commission. Her campaign said Monday she is not required to file until Sept. 30 and that she would have no comment about her finances.

Roe does appear to have something going for her, however: Washington, D.C., firm Fireside Campaigns is running her operation. Roe’s FEC organizational statement indicates another Washington firm, Kalik & Associates, is handling her campaign finances.

Money is a key factor in congressional races, but it doesn’t always ensure victory.

Steil defeated Randy Bryce in his first campaign in 2018, when Bryce raised $8.62 million and Steil had $2.3 million.

Steil won again in 2020, beating Roger Polack, who raised $547,347 to Steil’s $3.52 million.

Others—Democrats, Republicans or third-party candidates—can still get in the race for the 1st District seat. Partisan primaries would be held Aug. 9, 2022. The election is on Nov. 8, 2022.


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