WASHINGTON — Do you miss the election? Do you miss MinnPost’s campaign finance dashboard?
Let’s revisit both for one minute.
Final campaign finance reports for federal races were due to the Federal Election Commission in December, giving us a final look at the money race for the 2013-14 cycle (there is one final “year-end report” due to the FEC at the end of this month, but that fundraising will count toward the 2015–16 cycle). Before the next round of fundraising begins in earnest, let’s take at look at how Minnesota candidates fared last cycle.
The dashboard has been updated with final numbers for federal candidates (gubernatorial year-end reports are due Februrary 2), and you can always step back through previous reports to re-live the ups and downs of candidate fundraising. Meanwhile, a couple of quick thoughts on the last cycle:
Stewart Mills lent himself a lot of money: In Minnesota’s closest and most closely watched race, 8th District Republican candidate Stewart Mills ended up giving his campaign nearly $403,000, which helped him out-spend incumbent Rep. Rick Nolan by about $31,000. Nolan raised a lot more money from contributors — $2.1 million to $1.6 million — and he starts out the new cycle in a fair position, with $104,000 on hand and less than $10,000 in debt. That’s more than twice as much as he had in the bank after his 2012 campaign.
Nolan beat Mills by 1.4 percentage points.
Franken stiffly outraised McFadden: In the end, Sen. Al Franken’s army of small-dollar donors helped give him a three-and-a-half-to-one fundraising edge on Republican businessman Mike McFadden. Franken brought in $24.5 million to McFadden’s $6.9 million, and both spend just under those amounts.
It’s not reflected on the dashboard, but the McFadden campaign took on some big debts on its way out the door, to the tune of $139,000. Unlike Mills, McFadden didn’t loan his campaign any money.
Also, lest you think campaigns take some time off after the elections, Franken’s 2020 campaign committee is already live in the FEC’s database. He ended his first re-election campaign with almost $524,000 on hand.
Big bank account for Paulsen, lots of IOUs for Emmer: Nearly every campaign in Minnesota ratcheted up their spending in the last two months of the campaign, except one: Rep. Erik Paulsen.
En route to a 24.3-point victory over DFLer Sharon Sund, Paulsen spent much less between Sept. 1 and Election Day ($477,000) than he did between June and August ($1.2 million). He’s the only major candidate in Minnesota to take his foot off the gas as the election drew closer. He didn’t need to spend the cash, so he didn’t, and he’ll start the 2016 cycle with an enormous bank account: nearly $1.3 million. That’s 2.75-times what Paulsen’s last two challengers raised, combined. That’s enough to probably scare off many Democratic challengers in 2016, and eventually set in motion speculation that Paulsen will look to run statewide in 2018 or 2020.
Among Minnesota’s other Republicans, Rep. John Kline raised $2.7 million and ended the year with $174,000 on hand. On the flip side of that, Rep. Tom Emmer is pretty deep in the hole: he has $14,000 in the bank but $210,000 in leftover bills, easily the most among Minnesota candidates who didn’t self-fund.
With that, here’s the dashboard, and we’ll see you when 2016 numbers start rolling in.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry