Republican candidate for governor Tim Pawlenty raised nearly seven times as much money as his GOP rival Jeff Johnson so far this year, while U.S. Rep. Tim Walz continues to lead the pack of Democratic candidates in total fundraising as the primary election looms.
However, campaign finance reports released Tuesday show Attorney General Lori Swanson has outpaced Walz’s fundraising since she joined the governor’s race on June 4. Swanson raised more than $606,000 in less than two months, but she spent it fast, too — with $135,255 left in her bank account, Swanson had less cash left on hand than any major candidate for governor.
The reports detail how much money candidates raised and spent from the beginning of the year through July 23. They provide the last glimpse at where candidates for governor and other statewide offices, as well as legislative hopefuls, stand financially before the Aug. 14 primary.
State Rep. Erin Murphy, the DFL-endorsed candidate for governor, had raised $585,010 this year and spent more than half that amount. Her campaign emphasized that more than 2,300 people have given to her campaign, and the DFL Party’s backing has helped spur donations.
Nonetheless, Walz has raised twice as much as Murphy this year and had almost $500,000 in remaining cash. In 2018 alone, donors have contributed nearly $1.28 million to his bid — and he raised a similar amount the previous year.
Walz’s campaign said July has been their strongest fundraising month so far, and on July 30 they raised $50,000, which is not included in the latest report.
“We are absolutely humbled by the outpouring of support from Minnesotans across the state,” Walz’s statement said. “Whether it’s a dairy farmer in Todd County, a teacher in Minneapolis, or a bus driver in Hugo, Minnesotans from all walks of life are joining our campaign to unite this great state.”
Swanson’s campaign said her low cash balance reflects that she prepaid for television airtime for campaign ads to run between now and the primary.
“In just 50 days, the Swanson campaign has outpaced every other Democrat for governor in fundraising,” campaign manager Jeff Anderson said in a prepared statement.
Pawlenty, meanwhile, has raised $2.1 million in a much shorter time frame. He announced he was running for governor about a year after Walz entered the race. His two previous terms in the governor’s office, presidential bid and work for the financial industry in Washington helped connect him with a wide net of donors.
“Our campaign is running strong across the entire state and the extensive scope of our grass roots supporters — with donors from each of Minnesota’s 87 counties — shows that our message is resonating broadly,” Pawlenty said in a statement. “Our fundraising has continued to be strong throughout this campaign and puts us in a good position to win the primary on August 14 and in the general election on November 6.”
Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner and the GOP-endorsed candidate, has raised a little more than $300,000 in 2018 and had two-thirds of that amount left in the bank. Johnson said Monday that while he expects Pawlenty will continue spending money in the final two weeks leading up to the primary, he is attending numerous events every day and feels good about the momentum around his candidacy.
In the state attorney general’s race, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison had significantly outraised DFL competitors. He secured nearly $213,000 and has about half that left to spend. Ellison’s campaign highlighted that 94 percent of their fundraising came from people who contributed $200 or less.
Five Democrats and three Republicans are running for the attorney general’s seat, many of whom were last-minute entries after Swanson’s decision in June not to seek re-election threw that race into disarray.
Of the Democratic candidates for attorney general, former Ramsey County Attorney Tom Foley has raised the second most this year at $62,150, and state Rep. Debra Hilstrom came in third on fundraising with just under $42,000.
Republican front-runner and endorsee Doug Wardlow has raised almost $115,000 and has a cash balance of more than $65,000 left.
The battle for the Minnesota House has also attracted a lot of attention and money as Democrats try to wrest control from Republicans, who had the majority in both the House and Senate this year and blocked some of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s initiatives.
The House DFL Caucus announced it is outpacing 2016 fundraising totals and has more cash on hand than it did at this point in the previous election year. The caucus raised more than $1.5 million in 2018, and the Minnesota House Republican Campaign Committee has raised almost $870,000.
“Our strong fundraising numbers are just one metric that show the immense support House DFLers are seeing across the state,” Minority Leader Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said in a statement.
But House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said Republicans have the resources to defend their majority. He said they are also ahead of their 2016 fundraising pace and have more than tripled the amount of money coming from small donors.