- Associated Press - Friday, July 15, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - An Onalaska Republican has reported raising no money in his bid to become the GOP nominee in a race for a western Wisconsin state Senate seat.

John Sarnowski and La Crosse’s Dan Kapanke are vying for the GOP nomination in the 32nd Senate District, which includes parts of La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon and Crawford counties. Kapanke held the seat from 2004 to 2011, when voters removed him from office and installed Democrat Jennifer Shilling in a recall spurred by anger over Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s public union restrictions.

Friday was the deadline for candidates to file reports with the state Elections Commission detailing campaign fundraising and spending over the first half of 2016. Kapanke filed a report showing he raised $105,909 over the first two quarters of the year and had $84,518 in the bank as of June 30. Sarnowski, meanwhile, filed a form Tuesday attesting that he raised and spent no campaign cash over the last six months.

Sarnowski, who touts himself as “the real candidate for the 32nd District” on his website, said in a telephone interview that his bank froze his campaign account years ago due to inactivity.

He said he first created the account in 2000 for legislative campaigns but his last campaign was an Assembly bid in 2008. He said his bank’s manager unfroze the account several days ago and he’s since deposited about $800. Since the money was raised after June 30 he didn’t report it on the latest filings.

“We’re in (the race),” he said. “We’re running.”

Shilling, who hails from La Crosse, has risen to the rank of minority leader in the Senate. She faces her own primary challenger in the form of Jared Landry of La Farge. Neither of them had filed their finance reports as of mid-afternoon Friday. Candidates had until midnight to turn in the data.

The Democrat and Republican who emerge from the Aug. 9 primary will square off in the Nov. 8 general election.

Friday’s filings also show two Democratic Assembly incumbents who face primary challengers have thousands of dollars in the bank. Rep. Sondy Pope Roberts of Mount Horeb had $12,169 on hand. Rep. Lisa Subeck of Madison had $12,631 in the bank. Their opponents - Luke Joseph of Oregon and Jacob Wischmeier of Madison, respectively -hadn’t filed their reports as of late afternoon.

Rep. Nancy Vander Meer, a Tomah Republican, had $51,424 on hand. She faces Democrat Mark Holbrook in the November election. He had not filed his first-half report as of late afternoon.

Walker’s filing, meanwhile, showed his gubernatorial campaign committee had only $160,000 on hand. He raised $1.1 million over the first six months of the year and spent $970,000.

He still has more money in the bank than he did at the end of 2015, when he had just $20,000.

Walker spent much of last year campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination. He dropped out of the race in September, leaving his candidate committee with a debt of $807,000 at the end of May.

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Associated Press writer Scott Bauer contributed to this report.

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Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at htpp://twitter.com/trichmond1.


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