Protest Candidate in 21st District Holding Fundraiser
Tamra Varebrook is holding a fundraiser at Fountain Hall in Sturtevant on Thursday. Donations over $50 are considered "host" contributions, but aren't necessary to attend.
**Updated 9:50 pm, April 18.
Tamra Varebrook, the "protest" candidate for the 21st Senate District, is hosting a fundraiser Thursday, but the state GOP had no idea and has no involvement.
Varebrook's name was placed on the ballot for the May 8 primary with the support of the state Republican party. The GAB Tuesday voted to allow the "fake" Democrats to remain on the ballots for all six recall primary elections - one each for governor, lt. governor, and four state senators.
State Sen. Van Wanggaard is under recall here in Racine County. On May 8, voters will choose between Varebrook and former Sen. John Lehman, whom Wanggaard defeated in Nov. 2010.
Scheduled from 6 to 8 pm Thursday at Fountain Hall, 8505 Durand Avenue, Sturtevant, the reception asks for donations but says contributions aren't necessary to attend. $50 or more garners a silver, gold or platinum designation.
"I would like to personally invite you to a fund-raising reception to support my candidacy. Senate District 21 - Protest Candidate," the top of the page reads. She also invites those who can't attend to donate through her campaign website at www.tamraforsenate.com.
In an email to Patch, Varebrook explained the event as more of a get-together.
Tomorrow's event is a gathering a friends, family, and supporters. We are against the recall of Senator Wanggaard, Governor Walker, Lt. Governor Kleefisch, and the other 3 senators. Our focus is to remind the constituents of the 21st Senate District why John Lehman was not elected in 2010 and also remind them how Lehman's failed policies hurt our district. A re-do at taxpayer expense doesn't change the facts of the past.
Patch requested an interview with Varebrook to ask her what she'll do with the money she raises, but in a second email message back to us, she declined to comment. She also declined our request to attend the event.
"At this time I'm not making any statements regarding campaign finance," she said. "I'm also not having press at the event tomorrow."
But in a third email exchange, Varebrook said she would be in touch with Patch on Thursday.
Ben Sparks, communications director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, had no idea Varebrook was holding a fundraiser.
"This is the first I've heard of it," he told Patch when we called. "The state party is not expending further resources past getting names on the ballot."
The county party is also not involved, according to Bill Folk, chair of the Republican Party of Racine County. He said he was invited, but has no idea why Varebrook needs to host a fundraiser.
"A placeholder candidate is just that," he said. "If this were still a three-way race, it might make sense, but otherwise, I really have no idea."
Ken Brown of the Racine TEA Party said he'll be at the party, but the event is not sponsored by the TEA party. Still, he had some ideas on what Varebrook could do with the money she might raise.
"If she uses the money to actively campaign to push John Lehman off the ballot, then that would be okay," he said. "Or she could keep it in her fund and donate it toward the election campaigns of other Republicans like Van Wanggaard or Robin Vos."
Another option, Brown added, is that Varebrook can hang on to the money and use it to run for office again one day.
Reid Magney, communications director for the Government Accountability Board, said Varebrook is operating above board.
"Ms. Varebrook is properly registered with the G.A.B. for campaign finance purposes, and her candidacy has been certified by the Board for the May 8 primary," he said via email. "She is legally entitled to raise and spend money for any political purpose, subject to campaign finance laws."
Patch left a message for Justin Phillips, Wanggaard's campaign manager. We will update the story when we get comment from him.