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Tiffany picks up fundraising as he considers US Senate run, but lags far behind Baldwin

US Rep. Tom Tiffany is expected to announce in the next few weeks whether he's challenging US Sen. Tammy Baldwin

Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, at Gov. Tony Evers' first State of the State address
Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, at Gov. Tony Evers’ first State of the State address in Madison, Wisconsin, at the State Capitol building on Jan. 22, 2019. Emily Hamer/Wisconsin Watch

A potential 2024 challenger to U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is picking up some fundraising steam, though his campaign war chest is still far smaller than the Democratic incumbent’s.

U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, took in nearly $114,000 in the second quarter of 2023, according to a report filed by his campaign with the Federal Elections Commission. That’s more than three times what the campaign raised in the first quarter of this year.

Anthony Chergosky, an assistant political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, says the uptick signals Tiffany’s ambitions for higher office — though Chergosky notes Tiffany would eventually need to raise much more to be competitive against Baldwin.

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“As the (Republican) party unifies behind a candidate, it’s likely that the candidate will be able to attract significant resources,” Chergosky said. “But currently, Rep. Tiffany … does not have the kind of funding needed to run a statewide campaign.”

Although Tiffany has said he’s considering a run for Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate seat, thus far, no Republican contenders have formally declared their candidacies.

Tiffany expects to make an announcement on the race in the next few weeks, a spokesperson said.

Baldwin’s campaign took in more than $3 million last quarter — more than 26 times the size of Tiffany’s haul during the same reporting period, which extended from April through June.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Wikimedia Commons

During a 2020 special election, Tiffany won Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional district in a landslide with nearly 62 percent of the vote. He won by similar margins in the 2020 and 2022 general elections.

But, as Chergosky observed, the competition for Tiffany’s largely rural, solidly red district in northwestern and central Wisconsin will be far a far cry from a U.S. Senate race in a swing state.

“I think the big questions surrounding Rep. Tiffany is if he can shift from a safe House district to a highly competitive Senate election, and if he can attract the kind of resources that would be necessary to run that competitive campaign,” Chergosky said “Strategically, it might take a pivot on the part of Rep. Tiffany.”

Republican Ron Johnson holds Wisconsin’s other Senate seat. Last fall, Johnson won reflection to another six-year term when he edged out former Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes by a single percentage point.

Baldwin has served in the U.S. Senate since 2013. She won her most recent election in 2018 after beating Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir by nearly 11 percentage points.

Heading into July, Baldwin’s committee reported more than $5.5 million in cash on hand, while Tiffany’s campaign had less than $365,000 in its coffers.

Franklin businessman Scott Mayer has also indicated he might challenge Baldwin. But with more than a year until November’s general election, Wisconsin’s GOP field is still wide open.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s campaign has $5.5 million cash on hand.