WASHINGTON — To help you track how much Minnesota’s congressional incumbents and candidates and candidates for governor have raised for their campaigns this fall, we’re launching a new campaign finance dashboard with all the relevant numbers. We’ll update it as Federal Election Commission reports come in, as they did on Friday, the first big fundraising deadline of 2014.
Finance reports are a good way to gauge a number of factors for campaigns, from donor enthusiasm for a candidate (Sen. Al Franken and Stewart Mills are raising a lot, for example) to the seriousness with which candidates are taking their races (Rep. John Kline’s seat is a lot less safe than Rep. Betty McCollum’s, so he’s raising a lot more money to defend it).
Head over there to check out the numbers. Meanwhile, here’s what we found interesting this quarter:
•Stewart Mills outraised Rep. Rick Nolan again, and he has a slight cash-on-hand edge. Among Minnesota congressional incumbents, Nolan had the third-weakest 2013, fundraising-wise, behind only slow starter Collin Peterson and the very safe Betty McCollum.
•Sen. Al Franken has a big money edge over his GOP opponents, of whom businessman Mike McFadden had both the best quarter and the biggest war chest — presumably. Two major candidates — state Sen. Julianne Ortman and state Rep. Jim Abeler — didn’t announce their fundraising numbers over the weekend, though neither are likely to have matched McFadden’s totals.
•Tom Emmer not only had the best fundraising quarter among the candidates in the open 6th District, he raised more than only two House incumbents, fellow Republicans John Kline and Erik Paulsen. Kline and Paulsen had huge quarters: Combined, they raised just $5,600 less than their five Democratic colleagues between October and December.
Here’s a district-by-district break-down for Minnesota races from the fourth quarter:
It’s not unusual for Mark Dayton to top campaign spending and fundraising lists. The department store heir poured millions of his own personal fortune into his first run for governor in 2010, easily outraising his competition on the DFL and GOP side. And it didn’t hurt that he had wealthy friends — most notably his ex-wife and Rockefeller heiress Alida Messinger — who donated generously to bolster his political ambitions.
The incumbent governor has once again topped his challengers in fundraising in his race for re-election this fall, pulling in nearly $1.1 million in 2013 with more than $772,000 still in the bank. But this time he’s not relying on his own wealth — that haul includes no personal funds.
Coming in behind Dayton is candidate Scott Honour, one of six Republicans vying to carry the party’s torch in the governor’s race in 2014. The political novice and former investment banker from Orono reported raising nearly $495,000 in individual contributions and loaned himself another $100,000 for the race. Honour has spent much of that money already on staff and media consulting, ending the year with just $14,251 in the bank. Former Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers pulled in nearly $375,000 in individual donations. With lobbyist and PAC contributions tallied in, the state representative from Maple Grove topped $400,000 in total money raised with about $116,000 still in the bank.
Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who won an early gubernatorial straw poll among activists, raised more than $242,000 and has nearly $169,000 still in the bank. State Sen. Dave Thompson of Lakeville raised about $125,000 and has $50,000 in the bank. Both candidates are focusing their strategy on winning the GOP endorsement and have promised to drop out of the race if they don’t win activists’ support. Former House Republican and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert, the latest to join the race in November, reported raising $150,000 with $138,000 still on hand.
Sen. Al Franken had his best quarter of the cycle, bringing in more than $2.1 million, most of it from an army of small donors: According to his campaign, more than 97 percent of Franken’s donors gave less than $100 a pop in 2013.
Franken has $4.8 million on hand, so he has money to burn, and he’s doing so: His campaign spent $1.1 million during the last three months of 2013, his third million-plus expenditure quarter of 2013.
Only two of Franken’s would-be GOP opponents publicized their fourth quarter numbers: St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg raised $103,000 and has just $47,000 on hand, while businessman Mike McFadden brought in more than $779,000. McFadden has almost $1.7 million on hand, which almost certainly paces other big-name GOP challengers Julianne Ortman and Jim Abeler, whose reports not made public over the weekend (Senate candidates still file paper returns, so they’re not posted online).
Rep. Tim Walz raised less than $158,000, one of the weaker hauls among Minnesota’s congressional incumbents. He brought in nearly $640,000 on the year.
Even so, Walz has a big cash-on-hand edge over his three GOP challengers, Jim Hagedorn ($16,000), Mike Benson ($29,000) and Aaron Miller ($41,000). Of the three, Hagedorn had the best numbers, bringing in more than $36,500; Miller had a smaller quarter, raising just $8,330 from donors, but he lent his campaign $40,000.
Rep. John Kline is one of the big winners of the fourth quarter: the Republican brought in about $451,000, the most of the cycle among Minnesota representatives, easily out-raising challengers from both his right and left.
His main opponent, Democrat Mike Obermueller, raised $132,000, his best quarter of the cycle, but his cash-on-hand total ($203,000) is dwarfed by Kline’s $1.6 million. Two other Democrats, Thomas Craft and Paula Overby, are seeking the DFL nod in the race, but Craft raised less than $1,000 and Overby didn’t file a report.
Meanwhile, libertarian David Gerson, who is trying to steal the GOP endorsement away from Kline, raised less than $9,000 and has less than $4,000 on hand, even though he loaned his campaign $38,000. Gerson has said he’ll abide by the GOP’s endorsement, though Kline would have a huge fundraising edge if they were to end up going to a primary.
Kline, then, had a strong quarter in his own right and his opponents had little to be thrilled with in their own reports. Kline’s cash-on-hand total is formidable, second only to Rep. Erik Paulsen …
…who has $1.7 million in the bank after raising more than $293,000 in the fourth quarter. Paulsen brought in more than $1.5 million in 2013, and he’s outpacing his own quick pace from last cycle, when he raised $1.3 million in the off year. No DFLer has stepped up to challenge Paulsen; a war chest pushing $2 million and back-to-back blow-out victories may scare away any would-be opponents.
Rep. Betty McCollum raised $93,000 and has $124,000 on hand. Both are the smallest sums among the congressional delegation, but hers might be the safest district of the bunch, too.
Rep. Keith Ellison brought in more than $189,000, and has about $164,000 banked. He has no opponent in a safe DFL seat.
Tom Emmer’s cash edge over Phil Krinkie ($335,000 on hand compared to $291,000) makes this money race look a lot closer than it is, for one factor alone: self-funding.
Krinkie poured $300,000 into his own campaign when he announced his plans to fill Rep. Michele Bachmann’s vacated seat. Since then, he’s raised just more than $57,000 from donors.
Emmer, meanwhile, has raised more than $626,000 from contributors over seven months. That’s a bigger number than Reps. McCollum, Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan had all year long. He has taken on nearly $47,000 in debt, but he’s proven to be a strong fundraiser — not to Bachmann’s level, certainly, but among the best in Minnesota so far this year.
Elsewhere in the 6th, Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah raised just $13,000, but she has more than $184,000 on hand thanks to personal loans. There are three DFLers in the race, Jim Read, Judy Adams and Joe Perske, but only Read raised money last year: he brought in $33,778 (The St. Cloud Times wrote about the DFL endorsement race on Saturday).
Much has been written about Rep. Collin Peterson’s political future, but to recap: the 69-year-old will announce his plans in the next few weeks, but he’s filed for re-election and he’s fundraising. He had a strong December, bringing in more than $154,000, after he picked up a GOP challenger, state Sen. Torrey Westrom. Peterson has more than $357,000 on hand if he decides he’ll run again, compared to Westrom’s $83,600, all of which came in the last month of 2013.
Republicans hope to give Peterson more of a challenge than the 13-term congressman is used to, and Westrom is on pace to out-raise Peterson’s last opponent before the end of the next reporting period: businessman Lee Byberg raised just $182,000 for the entire cycle last year (excluding personal loans).
Rick Nolan raised less than $145,000, his best quarter yet this year but less than any other Minnesota congressional incumbent with a challenger. For the second straight quarter, his GOP opponent, Stewart Mills, outraised him. And Nolan has less than $299,000 on hand, to $306,000 for Mills. That makes Nolan the only Minnesota incumbent without a cash-on-hand edge over his opponent.
Nolan had early fundraising troubles before his August 2012 DFL primary, when Tarryl Clark consistently outraised him. But after Nolan defeated her in the primary, he managed back-to-back $400,000-plus quarters, so he has a fundraising network he can tap into if he needs it.
Mills, meanwhile, brought in $205,000 and had the best non-incumbent, non-Emmer quarter of any Minnesota congressional candidate. National Republicans were already pleased with his fundraising pace last fall – his fourth quarter numbers are likely to buoy them even more.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry