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Senate Republican candidate Mike Gibbons answers a question during Ohio's Senate Republican Primary debate on March 28, 2022, in Wilberforce, Ohio.
Senate Republican candidate Mike Gibbons answers a question during Ohio's Senate Republican Primary debate on March 28, 2022, in Wilberforce, Ohio.Joshua A. Bickel / The Columbus Dispatch via AP file

Michels' Wisconsin win comes as self-funders have struggled in primaries this year

Many candidates who have relied on their own wealth to boost their campaigns have fallen short.


Wisconsin Republican Tim Michels, who had been backed by former President Donald Trump, won his gubernatorial primary Tuesday thanks in no small part to his own deep pockets.

Campaign finance reports show Michels gave his campaign at least $10.6 million, the vast majority of what he raised to fund his victory over former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

But while Michels' personal wealth helped to lead him to victory, that hasn't always been the case this election cycle. Wealthy, self-funding candidates have had a mixed record in primaries so far — only one of the five candidates in House and Senate primaries who loaned their campaigns at least $10 million advanced through their primary, per Open Secrets.

Here's a look at some of the other top self-funders and how they've fared in their primaries:

Ohio Republican Mike Gibbons: Lost

Gibbons was the biggest self-funder in a race that included a handful of other candidates lending their own money to boost their campaigns. The businessman gave his more than $18 million, but he finished in a distant fourth place.

Arizona Republican Karrin Taylor Robson: Lost

Taylor Robson lost her gubernatorial primary to Republican Kari Lake despite sinking more than $15 million into her own bid.

Wisconsin Democrat Alex Lasry: Lost

Lasry ended his campaign early, dropping out before primary day and endorsing Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes in the Senate primary. The Milwaukee Bucks executive loaned his campaign at least $14.9 million.

Pennsylvania Republican Mehmet Oz: Won

Oz won the Senate nomination despite running against another self-funder, Dave McCormick. Oz, who earned his fortune as a television doctor, loaned his campaign $14.2 million through June, while McCormick loaned his $13.7 million

Arizona Republican Jim Lamon: Lost

Lamon wasn't running against another self-funder, but the man who beat him for Arizona's Senate nomination, Blake Masters, was boosted by billionaire Peter Thiel, who gave $15 million to a pro-Masters super PAC. Lamon loaned his campaign at least $14 million.

Ohio Republican Matt Dolan: Lost

One of Gibbons' self-funding challengers, Dolan seeded his campaign with $10.6 million. He surged in the race's final days but ended up finishing in third place.

Michigan Republican Kevin Rinke: Lost

Rinke loaned his gubernatorial campaign $10 million but ended up losing to the Trump-backed Tudor Dixon.

Alabama Republican Mike Durant: Lost

Durant made some noise when he jumped into the race late as a self-funder who ultimately loaned his campaign $9.5 million. But he couldn't make it to the runoff, finishing third in the Senate primary.

Missouri Republican Trudy Busch Valentine: Won

Busch Valentine was another late arrival who shook up her race by loaning her campaign $3 million. She ended up winning the party's Senate nomination.