ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Democrats enjoy campaign cash advantages in all races for statewide office as the party seeks to keep its current grip on state government power.
The latest batch of fundraising reports was released Tuesday, two weeks ahead of a primary election that will set November matchups. The candidates are only part of the equation because outside groups not bound by per-donor restrictions are also ramping up for an expensive fall campaign.
Heading into this election, Democrats maintain top-to-bottom control of state government. But Republicans sense opportunity to reclaim the state House and compete for one or more of the executive offices on the ballot.
Here are some takeaways:
Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, won’t know his opponent until the Republican primary election on Aug. 12. He raised about $249,000 from June 1 until July 21, the period covered by the latest reports. That left him with $847,000 in reserve.
Businessman Scott Honour is in the best financial shape among Republicans seeking their party’s nomination. He had $542,000 in the bank after raising about $108,000 and loaning his campaign another $500,000.
Other Republicans in the race include former House Speaker Kurt Zellers, who collected $125,000 in the latest period and had about $146,000 left to spend.
Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who won the party’s endorsement at a May state convention, took in $186,000 and had $123,000 remaining.
Former state Rep. Marty Seifert mustered just shy of $56,000 during the seven-week stretch and had about $71,000 for the stretch run in the GOP race.
One of the summer’s surprise races — a Democratic primary for state auditor — has proven expensive.
Incumbent Rebecca Otto is facing a stiff challenge from former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, who plowed $255,000 in personal funds into his race — and spent most of it.
Otto has already spent $162,000 in her pursuit of a third term, leaving her with about $57,000 for the final weeks of the primary campaign.
The Entenza-Otto winner will face Republican nominee Randy Gilbert, who had $5,800 banked when he filed his campaign report. The Independence Party’s Patrick Dean was slightly better off, with $6,500 stocked up.
The candidate totals often pale when compared to the sums flowing to independent groups that frequently pull in five- or six-figure checks. Several groups, on both sides, are flush at this stage.
The Pro Jobs Majority PAC, an entity associated with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, has $757,000 at the ready.
The conservative Freedom Club State PAC, which has already spent $500,000 on ads criticizing Dayton and legislative Democrats, has $456,000 in reserve. That group took in $575,000 from husband-and-wife mega-donors Robert and Joan Cummins.
On the Democratic side, unions and other liberal interests have poured their money into a trio of closely connected groups — the 2014 Fund, WIN Minnesota and the Alliance for a Better Minnesota — that had more than $1.8 million in available cash. Some of that has since gone to a new ad campaign promoting Dayton’s accomplishments.
Democrats have widened a party cash advantage over Republicans when it comes to the main campaign committees devoted to the battle for Minnesota House control.
The House DFL Caucus had $1.53 million banked as of mid-July. That compared with $720,000 for the House Republican campaign fund. Those totals are distinct from whatever the candidates spend on their individual races.
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