ST. PAUL (WCCO) — In the race to take the governor’s seat, the field is crowded in the North Star State.

On the Democratic side, the leading candidates include Attorney General Lori Swanson, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and state Rep. Erin Murphy.

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson top the Republican list of nominees.

With just more than two weeks to go until the August primary, there haven’t been many comprehensive polls on that key race.

One major reason is money.

“A good poll will probably cost somewhere in the excess of 25, 35, $40 thousand … not too many people want to spend money on polling when they are going to be spending that on things like get out the vote or on television advertising,” said David Schultz, political expert and Hamline University professor.

One recent national Marist and NBC News poll shows Pawlenty and Swanson leading over their competitors.

However, those numbers are from July 15-19. That’s before a controversial story involving Swanson’s running mate, Rick Nolan, and his former legislative director broke.

One concrete set of numbers representative of the election, however, is early voting figures.

Numbers from the Secretary of State’s Office indicate nearly 30,000 people have already cast their ballots ahead of the August primary.

Schultz believes that may not amount to record primary voting numbers. It does indicate one thing, though.

“It is suggesting that a lot of people have already made up their minds,” Schultz said.

Schultz said the best evidence for big primary voting numbers in our state lies in what’s happening across the country.

“What really seems to drive it is national politics and to what extent do national events really get people excited about campaigns. This year, the Democrats seem very excited,” said Schultz.

The primary election falls on Aug. 14 and the general election will take place on Nov. 6.

Mary McGuire

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