ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota candidates, parties and political groups stockpiling money for the upcoming campaign gave a fresh look at their finances Tuesday.
There are millions at their disposal for television ads, glossy mailings and barnstorming tours.
Aside from sending people to Congress this fall, Minnesota voters will elect a governor, fill other top state offices and decide which party runs the state House. It was the state candidates and groups that had to release details on fundraising and spending from Jan. 1 to May 31.
The next reports are due in late July.
Here are some takeaways:
Gov. Mark Dayton has a sizable cash-on-hand edge over the four Minnesota Republicans seeking their party nomination in an Aug. 12 primary.
Dayton, a Democrat: Raised $355,000 and had $753,000 in the bank as of June 1, with about $32,000 in unpaid bills.
Businessman Scott Honour, Republican: Raised $273,000 from donors and loaned his campaign $300,000 for the year. Had $227,000 banked.
Former state Rep. Marty Seifert, Republican: Raised $123,000 from donors and loaned his campaign $19,500. Entered June with $104,000.
State Rep. Kurt Zellers, Republican: Raised $120,000 in contributions and loaned his campaign $20,000. Held $95,000 in reserve.
Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, Republican: Raised $48,000. Had $33,000 saved.
Software developer Hannah Nicollet, Independence Party: Raised $380 and spent none.
Under Minnesota’s public campaign subsidy program, the winner of each primary would unlock hundreds of thousands of dollars by agreeing to abide by spending caps.
The Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board published new estimates Tuesday on what that could mean to the various candidates, which varies because people can designate an income tax check-off to a particular party.
Dayton is in line for $448,000, while the Republican nominee would get $301,000 and the Independence Party nominee $219,000. There’s a catch because Honour isn’t participating, which means he wouldn’t get the subsidy as the GOP nominee and his share would get split among his opponents.
Outside groups that operate independently of the campaigns are stocking up, too.
So far there has been a smattering of radio ads, television commercials and Internet pop-ups by groups with upbeat names like Compete Minnesota and the Alliance for a Better Minnesota.
Compete Minnesota, which is promoting Honour, reported spending $200,000 on an ad effort. Two funds connected to the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, which ran millions of dollars in ads to help Dayton in 2010, are sitting on a combined $1.35 million. The Democratic Governors Association has routed a $50,000 donation through the Democratic-aligned 2014 Fund.
Not all groups must disclose their spending because they are formed as voter education organizations that file limited details with the IRS. They can’t explicitly advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate, but they generally leave little doubt of their ultimate aim.
The contest for control of the Minnesota House is also shaping up as expensive. Republicans need a net gain of seven seats to reclaim the majority after two years in the minority.
The Democratic House campaign arm has slightly more than $1 million in reserve, compared with $640,000 for the House Republican campaign fund. That’s distinct from whatever the candidates spend on their individual races.
Among the state parties, Democrats entered the five-month stretch run in a stronger position. The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor had $346,000 stored up in its state account (there are separate federal funds to influence congressional and Senate races). The Minnesota GOP had about $31,000 and a debt load of more than $500,000.
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