GOP businessman Scott Mayer, who has spent nearly four decades in the staffing industry, tells WisPolitics.com he’s considering a run for the U.S. Senate next year against two-term incumbent Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison.
He joins fellow businessman Eric Hovde among those actively considering a run for the GOP nomination to challenge Baldwin. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said he hasn’t ruled out a campaign.
Mayer, of Franklin, said in a phone interview Tuesday that he has met with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, former state GOP Chair Paul Farrow and Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation as he weighs a run.
That includes U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, who has been mentioned as a possible Senate candidate. Mayer said he didn’t want to share Gallagher’s feedback on 2024.
Mayer also wants to make a decision on a run by Labor Day.
“This is a huge decision, and if I do it, I want to go all in and do it right,” Mayer said.
Mayer is chairman and CEO of QPS Employment Group, which he launched in 1985. He said he sold the company two years ago through an employee stock ownership program. Mayer is also on the boards of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, two of the state’s largest business groups.
A check of the Ethics Commission’s online campaign finance database shows he has contributed $93,525 to state candidates since 2009. Those donations have gone overwhelmingly to Republicans except for two contributions in 2016 to a Dem Assembly candidate and $2,000 to Dem state Sen. LaTonya Johnson, of Milwaukee, in September.
Mayer said he connected with Johnson after testifying at a hearing in the state Capitol about unemployment issues related to COVID-19, adding his philosophy is about “people first instead of the party.”
Mayer said one issue he’s weighing is the personal financial commitment a run would require. He said people have told him the race could hit $250 million in spending by both sides and he would have to commit $10 million to $20 million of his own money to get a campaign off the ground.
Mayer said he has the funds. He’s just not sure if he wants to “spend all my hard-earned money to have the opportunity to serve you.”
“I don’t like it. I’m not comfortable with it,” Mayer said. “But if I do, it’s the reality of what I have to do.”
Clarke, who served as Milwaukee County sheriff from 2002-17, is focused on becoming a “thought leader in the conservative movement” but hasn’t taken anything off the table in terms of 2024, a spokesperson says.
Clarke has launched a new podcast, “Straight Talk With America’s Sheriff David Clarke,” and spokesperson Judy Wilkinson said “he may make a determination of what to do with the branding he has built up over the years, but not now.”
In 2017, Clarke said he had been offered a position in the Trump administration, but he later said he had rescinded acceptance of the job as assistant secretary of homeland security. That came after delays during the appointment process amid criticism of the appointment.
Wilkinson said Clarke would “never take anything off the table as it relates to his future.”
“He has said to me on more than one occasion that in politics, timing is everything, and he will continue to take life one day at a time,” she said.
Wilkinson also took a shot at Baldwin, calling her well-funded but vulnerable and a “back-bencher” who has no message.
The Daily Beast first reported that Clarke hadn’t ruled out a run.
State Dem Party spokesperson Arik Wolk dismissed both Clarke and Mayer as serious candidates.
Baldwin has been on several lists of top races to watch in 2024. She ended last year with more than $3 million in the bank, is a prolific fundraiser and won reelection in 2018 by more than 10 points.
“The two Republicans the GOP is talking about right now are David Clarke and Scott Mayer. That says everything you need to know about their chances to defeat Tammy Baldwin in 2024,” Wolk said.