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Murphy has big money lead in EC judge race

Incumbent outspends challenger Harless by 5-to-1 since campaigns began

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Eau Claire County Judge Shaughnessy Murphy has a large lead in campaign fundraising and spending over his challenger in the April 3 election.

Campaign finance documents filed with the state show Murphy has raised $42,800 since starting his run last year while Eau Claire attorney Sarah Harless has netted $14,300 in campaign contributions.

In addition to the 3-to-1 fundraising advantage shown in the filings that cover campaign activity through Feb. 5, Murphy also outspent his challenger 5 to 1.

The incumbent appointed in October to the county’s vacant Branch 5 seat by Gov. Scott Walker has spent about $15,050 while the Hertel Law lawyer opposing him has paid $2,915 in campaign expenses.

Harless’ campaign spending has included creating a website, holding fundraisers, advertising on Facebook and making brochures and buttons.

Murphy has done all those things, plus he’s made a couple of large print advertising buys and printed yard signs, based on the campaign finance documents.

Murphy’s largest single financial contribution came from Sharon Crane, an Eau Claire nurse who gave $1,100 to the campaign. But six out-of-state donors each provided $1,000 to Murphy’s effort to secure his first full six-year term. Among them is his father, Dr. Michael Murphy of Springfield, Ill., but other large out-of-state donors include individuals from Florida, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland and a political action committee affiliated with U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington.

Of the 161 donors who contributed to Murphy’s campaign, 20 percent listed addresses outside of Wisconsin. For the Harless campaign, 7 percent of its 138 donors were out-of-state.

Harless had just one donor who gave $1,000 or more in cash to her campaign: Eau Claire City Council President Kerry Kincaid contributed $1,400 last year. The next highest donors — Jennifer Harless of Austin, Texas, and Eau Claire businesswoman Rebecca Cooke — each gave $500.

Fundraising and spending on a race for a judge seat in Clark County is more evenly matched for two candidates.

Former District Attorney and current family court Commissioner Lyndsey Boon Brunette of Neillsville has raised $7,646 and spent $4,174. Private practice attorney Roberta Heckes, also of Neillsville, raised about $6,100 and spent $4,457.

The two are campaigning for the seat that is being vacated by Judge Jon Counsell, who is not seeking re-election in April.

County circuit court judge campaigns disclosed their 2017 contributions and spending in filings made last month to the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. Campaigns submitted documents on their activities from Jan. 1 through Feb. 5 on Monday to the state.

Contact: 715-833-9204,, @ADowd_LT on Twitter

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