WASHINGTON — The fourth-quarter fundraising numbers for Minnesota’s congressional candidates are in, and the incumbents have a large early fundraising advantage.
Here’s what you need to know:
• Sen. Amy Klobuchar has $4.6 million on hand for her re-election bid, giving her a financial advantage over her Republican opponents that’s equally as daunting as her early polling edge.
• Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign ended $1.05 million in debt. She has $615,000 in cash on hand, so she’ll start her House re-election campaign nearly $450,000 in debt.
• Not many congressional races are expected to be competitive next fall, but in the ones that are, the incumbents have a large early fundraising advantage. First District Democrat Tim Walz has $617,000 in the bank, compared with Republican state Sen. Mike Parry, who has $29,000 in the bank after the first two months of his campaign. Republican Chip Cravaack of the 8th District has a $240,000 advantage on his closest Democratic challenger, Tarryl Clark.
• Speaking of Clark, she raised $530,000 since May, which is $70,000 less than what she raised in the last half of 2009, when she was running against the much higher-profile Michele Bachmann.
• The seven Minnesotans who spent the fourth quarter actively seeking re-election to the House of Representatives collectively outraised their opponents by more than $1 million.
On to the numbers, which cover the October-to-December fundraising period:
Sen. Amy Klobuchar has $4.6 million in the bank after raising $1 million in the quarter. Klobuchar’s fundraising abilities have been consistent all year long; she raised at least $1 million, but no more than $1.1 million, during each quarter in 2011.
The FEC had published fundraising totals for only one of her potential opponents on Tuesday. Former state Rep. Dan Severson raised $46,300 and has $34,000 on hand.
Klobuchar is considered one of the safest incumbent Democratic senators going into this fall’s election. She is polling 20 points higher than each of her Republican challengers, including Severson, St. Bonifacius City Council Member Joe Arwood and activist Anthony Hernandez.
Democratic Rep. Tim Walz raised $209,000 last quarter and has $617,000 on hand.
Both of Walz’s Republican opponents, Mike Parry and Al Quist, announced their candidacies in November and filed their first fundraising reports of the cycle. Parry raised $32,500 and has more than $29,000 on hand. Quist raised a mere $2,200 and lent his campaign $4,000. He has $5,500 on hand.
Walz is one of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s two main targets in Minnesota next fall.
Republican Rep. John Kline raised $260,000 and has $873,000 on hand, the second best cash-on-hand total in the delegation. Kline’s 2011 fundraising total ($1.02 million) is 40 percent higher than it was at that point in the 2009-10 election cycle, thanks in large part to the added attention he receives as a committee chairman.
Democrats have yet to field a candidate to challenge Kline.
Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen continues to show his fundraising chops, raising $316,500 last quarter. He has just more than $1 million in the bank, the best figure of any House incumbent in Minnesota. Paulsen sits on the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means Committee and has been an active supporter of the medical technology industry, opening him up for contributions from deep-pocketed donors.
Paulsen’s fundraising advantage over his two DFL opponents is simply massive. Navy veteran Brian Barnes has only $28,000 on hand and small business owner Sharon Sund has about half that.
The two Democrats representing the Twin Cities had their best fundraising quarters of the year this fall. St. Paul-based Betty McCollum raised $128,200 between October and December and has $175,300 in the bank.
Daniel Flood, her long-shot Republican challenger, raised only $4,000 last quarter. He has $1,200 on hand.
Over in Minneapolis, Keith Ellison raised $243,000 during the fourth quarter. His campaign has $142,000 on hand.
Both of Ellison’s Republican opponents have less than $10,000 in cash. Former Marine Chris Fields raised $20,300 last quarter and has $8,400 on hand. Lawyer and activist Lynne Torgerson has $6,500 in the bank after raising nearly $12,000 in the fourth quarter.
Michele Bachmann announced last week that she would run for re-election to her House seat. The 6th District needs to shed about 100,000 residents through redistricting, and given the uncertainty surrounding the district’s new lines, no Democrat has stepped up to run against Bachmann, whose fundraising skills makes her a formidable opponent regardless of the district’s boundaries.
But Bachmann will kick off her re-election bid nearly $450,000 in the red, her presidential campaign having racked up more than $1 million in debt. Bachmann has nearly $615,000 in cash between her two presidential campaign committees, and both the cash and the debt will transfer over to her congressional campaign.
If Democrats think Bachmann’s debt makes her at all vulnerable, you might see a top-flight candidate look to challenge the third-term congresswoman this fall. Really, though, it’s hard to predict electoral scenarios in the 6th until the district lines are finalized.
Democrat Rep. Collin Peterson has $676,000 on hand after raising $114,000 last quarter. At the moment, he’s staring at a rematch with Republican Lee Byberg, who raised $54,000 last quarter and has $128,600 on hand. Byberg still hasn’t paid off the $76,000 in debt he took on in 2010, when Peterson defeated him by 18 points.
Chip Cravaack has amassed a respectable war chest heading into what’s likely to be a tough re-election contest. The first-term Republican raised $206,000 last quarter and has $515,000 in the bank. In total, Cravaack raised $744,000 in 2011, more than the three Democrats looking to challenge him combined.
Among the DFL trio, former state Sen. Tarryl Clark has the best fundraising numbers by far. She pulled in $161,000 last quarter and has $275,000 on hand. Since May, Clark raised $530,000.
Former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan raised $60,000 during the fourth quarter and has $35,800 on hand. Duluth City Council Memmber Jeff Anderson raised $22,000 and has $13,000 in the bank.
The new redistricting lines will largely determine the competitiveness of this race. If the new 8th District contains Duluth and the Democratic-leaning blue-collar areas around it, outside spending on this race will be mammoth.