Minnesota governor candidates raise, spend less cash
ST. PAUL -- If the Minnesota governor’s race hasn’t grabbed your attention yet, here’s one reason: The candidates haven’t raised or spent nearly as much money on their campaigns as previous contenders.
So far this year, the five leading Democratic-Farmer-Labor and Republican candidates have spent a combined total of just under $2 million in this race.
At this time four years ago, by contrast, the five top candidates had paid out nearly $9 million. By late July of that year, eventual winner Mark Dayton had loaned or donated more than $3 million to his DFL primary campaign. Another DFL aspirant, former state Rep. Matt Entenza, had pumped more than $4 million into his run for governor.
This year, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Honour is the leading self-funder in the race. A wealthy Orono businessman and political newcomer, he has loaned his campaign $901,000 of the nearly $1.2 million he had raised by July 21, according to campaign finance reports released Tuesday.
Honour had raised almost twice as much money as his three rivals in the Aug. 12 GOP primary combined, and he has outspent all of them by a wide margin.
Meanwhile, Dayton, who faces only token opposition in the DFL primary, has stockpiled the most cash, $847,000, in preparation for the fall campaign. But this year, he hasn’t invested any of his own money in his bid for re-election.
Honour has spent nearly $660,000 on his campaign, and he still has more than $500,000 in his campaign treasury — more than triple the amount of any of his Republican rivals.
State Rep. Kurt Zellers came in second in the GOP fundraising race with $265,000 so far this year, followed by Republican-endorsed Jeff Johnson with $234,000 and former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert with $198,000.
Dayton’s campaign has raised $604,000 and spent $532,000 in the first seven months of the year. His campaign still owes the governor nearly $4 million that he loaned to it for his 2010 race.
Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Hannah Nicollet is trailing in the cash campaign, having raised just $15,000 and spent $3,000.
Four years ago, Dayton and Entenza flooded the airwaves with 30-second TV spots throughout the summer. So far this year, the candidates for governor have only begun television air wars.
While the price of the governor’s race is down, the cost of a hotly contested auditor’s election is up sharply. Entenza is challenging incumbent Rebecca Otto in the DFL primary, and so far he has pumped $255,000 of his own money into his campaign.
That’s more than Otto spent on her entire 2010 race. So far, she has paid out $162,000 in her bid for a third term.
The winner of the Otto-Entenza primary will face Republican Randy Gilbert, who has raised $55,000 this year, and the Independence Party’s Pat Dean, who has collected $8,000, in the Nov. 4 election.
DFLers also have a cash advantage in the fight for control of the Minnesota House of Representatives, where they outnumber Republicans 73 to 61.
The House DFL caucus had $1.5 million in its campaign war chest last week, compared with the House Republican caucus’ $721,000. House candidates raise most of the money for their own campaigns, but the caucuses pour money into the most competitive races.
In addition, the state DFL Party had a financial edge over the Minnesota Republican Party. The DFL has raised $2.1 million so far this year and had $581,000 in the bank on July 21. That compares with $1 million raised and $268,000 in cash on hand for the GOP.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.
Key numbers in the governor’s race:
Cash on hand: $847,065
Cash on hand: $542,243
Cash on hand: $122,866
Cash on hand: $71,018
Cash on hand: $145,604
Cash on hand: $13,034
Source: Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board