The 1st Congressional District’s new representative has wasted no time in building a base for re-election in 2020.
Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, raised $364,928 in the first quarter of this year, Federal Election Commission records show.
Steil said in a news release that the 2019 money includes contributions from a labor union, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners; the business groups Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and National Federation of Independent Businesses; as well as the companies Case New Holland and Northwestern Mutual.
A list of 2019 contributors was not posted on the FEC website Tuesday, but records show the carpenters union’s political committee contributed $5,000 to the Steil campaign on Election Day, Nov. 6.
Steil claimed his 2019 fundraising shows “broad-based support from workers across Southeast Wisconsin.”
“I am focused on standing up for Wisconsin workers,” Steil said in the release.
FEC records reflect no changes to the fundraising of the two Democrats who vied for the 1st District nomination last year, Randy Bryce and Cathy Myers.
Bryce raised a whopping $8.64 million to Steil’s $2.32 million, but Bryce still lost.
In an interview with The Gazette Editorial Board on March 19, Steil said if all the outside groups that spent money on the campaign are counted, he was outraised 2 to 1.
Steil noted candidates do not control outside groups’ spending, “which is part of the problem with our system.”
He called fundraising “a disappointing part of the job” and noted he ended his 2018 campaign in debt. FEC records indicated that debt was $138,455.
Steil said he works 80 hours a week and spends a small fraction of his time on fundraising.
Since being sworn in, Steil has criticized “dysfunction” in the governing process, especially the recent government shutdown, and has remained supportive of President Donald Trump’s positions on trade and Mexican border security.
The Trump campaign contributed $2,000 to the Steil campaign Nov. 5.
No obvious challengers to Steil have emerged yet.
The 1st District’s borders shifted from Democratic strongholds to Republican strongholds in the years Republican Paul Ryan held the seat, reducing any Democrat’s chances against Steil.
Candidate qualifications, records and policy positions also have affected the outcomes of elections.
Myers, who lost to Bryce in the Democratic primary, was re-elected to the Janesville School Board on April 2 in an uncontested race.
Bryce announced in December he had become a senior adviser to the Working Families Party, where he would “help recruit and elect more working-class people to run for office nationwide and to fight for a Green New Deal.”
Bryce also started a political action committee, IronPAC, whose stated purpose is to help “progressive working-class candidates.”