Gov. Mark Dayton, in his first significant attempt to gather campaign cash from other people, has proved he is an ample fundraiser.
According to his campaign, he raised $1.1 million for his re-election effort in 2013. Of that he had about $800,000 cash on hand left to spend, according to his campaign manager Katharine Tinucci.
Dayton, who has largely self financed all his previous campaigns, said he would raise money from others for his re-election and has followed through on that pledge. His nearly $1.1 million haul does not include any personal funds, Tinucci said.
The figure presages hefty spending on what so far has been a low profile gubernatorial election. Already a host of outside groups are ramping up to sway voters in this year's election and Dayton's Republican rivals have been fundraising themselves to oust the DFL governor from office.
Dayton's haul bests the fundraising figures from the top two Republican candidates fundraising combined and is about $200,000 more than former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty raised for his re-election campaign the year before he won his second term.
Among Republican candidates for governor, former House Speaker Kurt Zellers and businessman Scott Honour have topped the charts. According to self-reported figures, Honour raised over $500,000 from donors and Zellers raised about $400,000 for his campaign. Honour may have additionally lent his campaign some funds.
Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson said he raised over $240,000, former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert brought in more than $150,000 and state Sen. Dave Thompson hauled about $120,000.
All told, the five Republican rivals brought in about $1.4 million for their campaigns but, unlike Dayton, they still have an intra-party fight to wade through before they can reach November voters. All campaign finance reports are due to the state's campaign finance agency by the end of the week.
Dayton, meanwhile, has the DFL field all to himself and is already picking up union endorsements that will assist him as he vies to return to the chief executive spot.
On Tuesday, the Minnesota Nurses Association said it has endorsed him for a second term. That union endorsement joins those from the Minnesota AFL-CIO, Education Minnesota, the American Federation State, County and Municipal Employees and Minnesota Association of Professional Employees.
That union backing can provide powerful support for the governor's re-election bid. Unions have contributed tens of millions of dollars to Minnesota campaign efforts since 2007.