Flush Democratic Party of Wisconsin gives cash-strapped Florida counterpart $300,000

MADISON – Reunions for the casts of “The Princess Bride” and “Happy Days” generated gobs of cash for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin — and, it turns out, for its counterpart in Florida.   

Wisconsin Democrats made headlines for pulling in so much money in 2020 that they could put large sums toward long-shot efforts to take out state lawmakers in comfortably Republican districts. Now, they’re using some of their proceeds to help out their less flush friends in the Sunshine State.    

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin gave $300,000 to the Florida Democratic Party at the end of January, according to a recent campaign finance report. The Florida party is in such bad financial shape that it stopped paying for health insurance for its employees last year, Politico reported last month.

The infusion of cash from Wisconsin Democrats will help the Florida party get its finances back in shape. But that means less money is available for efforts in Wisconsin as Democrats gear up for the 2022 campaigns for governor and U.S. senator. 

“If Democrats want to keep winning elections so we can take on our country’s big challenges, we need to organize every day, every year, in every state, and we need to have each other’s backs,” said a statement from Nellie Sires, executive director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

“We were happy to be in a position to help our friends in Florida, and we look forward to building on the momentum coming out of the 2020 cycle to defeat (Sen.) Ron Johnson, re-elect Governor (Tony) Evers, and preserve our Congressional majorities.”

Democrats in Wisconsin took advantage of their swing-state status to maximize their fundraising prowess last year. A virtual reunion of the “Princess Bride” cast pulled in $4.25 million. The party held similar events featuring cast members from “Happy Days,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Veep.”

Events like those helped the Democratic Party of Wisconsin raise $73.3 million over two years, more than twice as much as the $32.3 million the state Republican Party took in during that period.

The situation left the Democratic Party so flush that it joined its allies in a last-minute ad blitz to try to defeat Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester. Despite the effort, Vos won his race by 16 percentage points. 

The Democrats had better luck at the top of the ticket, with Joe Biden narrowly beating President Donald Trump four years after Trump won the Badger State.

For the Republican Party of Wisconsin, the financial picture has not been so happy. Just before the election, it disclosed it had lost $2.3 million in a cyberattack. 

Daniel Bice of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

Contact Patrick Marley at patrick.marley@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.