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Nearly half of all money raised so far in the Minneapolis mayoral race originated outside the city, as the 35 candidates scramble near and far to raise money and their profiles in the race for leadership of the state’s largest city.
The list of people opening their wallets is diverse, including downtown strip club owners, trash haulers, Wall Street bankers, a conservator under federal investigation, and owners of fine restaurants and seedy bars alike, according to a Star Tribune analysis of more than 2,300 individual contributions.
Campaigns acknowledge that per-person contribution limits of $500 force them to look beyond the city limits for cash. Fundraisers have been held in St. Paul, Coon Rapids and — in independent Cam Winton’s case — as far away as New York. About 47 percent of funds came from outside Minneapolis and 8.4 percent from outside Minnesota.
“The limits are so low that you really can’t finance a campaign just on the usual suspects in Minneapolis,” said Brian Melendez, a former state and city DFL chairman who supports Betsy Hodges but has given to several candidates.
Attorneys, retirees, and people working in development and finance have contributed about 40 percent of the money raised this year, according to the newspaper’s analysis, which looked at itemized donations to the five candidates who have raised the most.
Candidates reported raising about $724,000 last week, offering a key look at campaign strength ahead of the Nov. 5 election. About $600,000 was broken down by donor, since contributions under $100 do not have to be itemized.
Some donors spread their money around. About 85 of the nearly 1,700 individual donors gave to more than one campaign — many of them in the development, legal or financial fields. “People whose livelihoods depend on who runs the city take the greatest interest in who runs the city,” Melendez said. .
Residents to the south of Lake Calhoun and around most of Lake Harriet — home to candidates Mark Andrew, Hodges, and Winton — gave $83,626, contributing more heavily than residents of any other area of Minneapolis.
Wide range of donors
Retirees, attorneys and those in finance and development gave more money to Andrew — the top fundraiser — than any other candidate.
Campaign manager Joe Ellickson said support from several of those groups reflect their faith in Andrew to create a thriving downtown and city overall.
Registered lobbyists also gravitated toward his campaign. They were his third highest group of contributors, after attorneys and retirees, with more than 40 lobbyists (or their spouses) giving him about $15,000. Their clients include Xcel and CenterPoint Energy, utility companies that opposed a recent effort to start a municipal utility, which failed. Non-lobbyist contributors from the energy field to Andrew, an environmental consultant, include the chief executive of Xcel and Great River Energy, as well as the owner of a small Plymouth firm called Ultra Green that promotes biodegradable, compostable products.
Labor unions also gave disproportionately to Andrew over other candidates.
Council Member Betsy Hodges’ campaign relied heavily on government employees and politicians, who nearly matched her haul from attorneys. Hodges led her competitors among people working in education and nonprofits.
Proprietors of food, liquor and entertainment establishments also lined up behind Hodges. About a third of those donations — $4,000 — came from people affiliated with strip clubs Déjà Vu and the Seville. The list also included a number of liquor stores, restaurants and downtown bars.
“I am just humbled to have so many contributions from first-time donors, individuals and communities that haven’t had a role in other campaigns,” she said in a statement.
There was some overlap between donors to Council Member Don Samuels and former council President Jackie Cherryhomes, who received a combined $4,000 in contributions from trash workers who hold a contract with the city through Minneapolis Refuse Inc, a company Cherryhomes used to represent as a lobbyist. Employees of a competitor vying for the contract, Aspen Waste, gave to Hodges.
Cherryhomes received almost as much cash from developers as Andrew — much of it from current and former clients of her lobbying business, including Lupe Development, Dominium and Mortenson Construction, which all have business before the city.
Samuels’ donors were harder to discern by occupation because the campaign was still seeking information about their employment.
Cam Winton, who is originally from Pennsylvania, trailed the field in percent of donations from Minneapolis — 38 percent — and Minnesota in general.
Winton noted that he spent much of his life living outside Minnesota, and he has drawn upon childhood friends, former colleagues and classmates on the East Coast. A recent trip east for his wife’s college reunion included several fundraising stops, he said. New York and his native Pennsylvania top his outstate contributions.
“If I hadn’t been able to draw upon relationships I cultivated in the first 27 years of my life, boy that’s a problem. Right?” Winton said.
Regarding non-Minneapolis contributions, the energy attorney said he’s not a political “insider” like some candidates and that some residents have given just under the limit for itemized disclosure because they’re DFLers who are afraid they will be ostracized. About 17 percent of Winton’s total donations were unitemized.
Andrew collected a greater portion of his money in Minneapolis — 60 percent — than any other candidate. But the campaign still had fundraisers in St. Paul and the Coon Rapids area
Noting that Minneapolis is the economic engine of the state, Ellickson said, “The job of the Minneapolis mayor doesn’t stop at the border of Minneapolis.”