WASHINGTON – For Rep. Brad Finstad, the advantage of being an incumbent is immediately apparent.
Finstad, R-1st, who was elected in August to fill the remainder of the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s term, received a surge in campaign contributions from political action committees, or PACs, after he was sworn into office on Aug. 12.
According to the latest filings with the Federal Elections Commission, Finstad’s campaign raised about $322,000 from July 21 to Sept. 30. Nearly half that money, or about $152,000, was from a number of PACs, including the NRA, National Shooting Sports and Koch Industries PAC.
Finstad’s campaign also received $500 from the Candy PAC, the political fund of the National Confectioners Association, which is always at odds with Minnesota’s sugar beet growers over reauthorization of the sugar program in the farm bill.
Meanwhile, Finstad’s opponent, former Hormel CEO Jeff Ettinger, raised less than $175,000 in the time period covered by his campaign’s latest filing – $12,000 of that amount from PACs. But Ettinger loaned his campaign an additional $700,000, bringing the total loans by the candidate to his campaign to $1.2 million.
As campaigns enter the final stretch, the state’s congressional incumbents are much better positioned as far as political cash than their challengers.
In the most competitive congressional race, the rematch between Rep. Angie Craig, D-2nd, and Republican Tyler Kistner, Craig has had a distinct money advantage. Her campaign has raised about $6.4 million to fend off Kistner and had $3 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 30. Kistner, meanwhile, has raised about $2.9 million this campaign cycle and reported about $494,000 in cash on hand.
And in the 3rd Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips, who does not accept PAC money, has raised $2.1 million in campaign funds this cycle while his Republican challenger, Tom Weiler, has raised $451,416. Phillips’ campaign coffers have not always been flush. When he defeated Rep. Erik Paulsen in 2018, becoming the first Democrat to represent the district since 1961, Phillips was obliged to loan his campaign about $500,000 just weeks before the election.
In the 4th Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum has raised $2 million in this campaign cycle while her Republican opponent, May Lor Xiong, has raised $118,367.
However, Cicely Davis, the Republican running against Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-5th, has raised nearly as much in political cash as her opponent. Omar has raised about $3 million in this cycle while Davis has raised about $2.9 million. Davis’s campaign has benefitted from the donations of out-of-state Republicans who chafe at Omar’s progressiveness, but the GOP candidate is considered a long shot in the heavily Democratic 5th.
In the 6th, GOP Rep. Tom Emmer raised more than $2.2 million to fend off Democrat, Jeanne Hendricks, who raised about $50,000.
And in the 7th, Republican Rep. Michelle Fischbach raised $1.7 million, spending about $1 million on consultants, polling, fundraising and other things to fend off Democrat Jill Abahsain, whose campaign has only raised $26,736.
Meanwhile Jen Schultz, a Democrat who is challenging Rep. Peter Stauber, R-8th, has raised a respectable amount of campaign money, about $530,000, thanks to a large number of small donations and help from key labor unions, including the United Steelworkers and the Laborers International Union of North America.
Even so, Stauber has raised more than $1 million in campaign cash this cycle and had about $1.1 million in cash on hand in his campaign account as of Sept. 30.
A full campaign finance picture, including candidates running for statewide office, can be found on the MinnPost Campaign Finance Dashboard.