A wave of political ads is adding heat to Minnesota’s sultry summer television viewing.

The candidates and their friends have spent at least $3 million to air their messages across the state, and groups are reserving even more time for later in the year.

On Monday, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden said he would broadcast an ad called “Stitches,” in which he and his son brag that McFadden took his son’s sutures out himself rather than paying medical professions to do it. The ad, which had a limited cable run earlier this year, comes on the heels of a spot in which McFadden was hit below the belt by a kid he was coaching in football.

Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken has ponied up more than $1.5 million to spread a message that he cares more about regular Minnesotans than partisan Washington fights.

While that premier race has yet to attract much outside cash, races lower on the ballot are attracting notice.

Supporters of Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson have banded together to produce an ad on behalf of the endorsee. Group volunteer Chris Tiedeman, a Republican National Committee member, told politics.mn the ad would air on television in the coming weeks.

Johnson’s campaign said Monday it will start airing ads on cable before the Aug. 12 primary. Like McFadden’s “Stitches” ad, the Johnson ad has been online for months, and, like the McFadden ad, it takes a lighthearted approach to a serious issue.

Republican Rep. Kurt Zellers, who will vie against Johnson, former Rep. Marty Seifert and businessman Scott Honour, launched his ads last week. Honour consultant Pat Shortridge said Honour has spent almost $100,000 on cable ad time and another $42,000 on radio ads. A group largely funded by Honour’s former employer, the Gores Group, has also spent more than $200,000 to support Honour.Meanwhile, the man the Republicans hope to unseat, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, has yet to storm the airwaves — but his friends have started the assault.

The Democratic Alliance for a Better Minnesota put significant cash behind a pro-Dayton ad that began airing recently. The Alliance, which invested considerable cash back in 2010 to bash Dayton’s Republican opponent, used the ad to make a pitch for the idea that Minnesota is better off now than it was four years ago before Dayton was elected.

Television viewers this year have seen ads trashing Dayton. Early in July, the conservative Freedom Club began airing an anti-Dayton ad on broadcast television.

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger


Johnson, House DFL release cash figures ahead of deadline

Political campaigns are starting to release their latest fundraising figures ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.

The Minnesota House Democratic caucus said it would post big numbers in its report Tuesday. According to the caucus, it has raised $1.5 million this year — $780,000 just since June 1 — and has more than $1.5 million cash on hand.

In a release, the caucus said it had raised more than the DFL caucus did in all of 2010, the last midterm election and the year Democrats lost control of the House.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson on Monday reported raising $170,000 since winning party endorsement at the end of May. He had $123,000 cash on hand.

Johnson, whose fundraising had lagged compared with his spending earlier this year, faces a competitive four-way primary in August against Rep. Kurt Zellers, businessman Scott Honour and former Rep. Marty Seifert.

Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, had said in June that he expected the campaign would need to raise $1 million before the primary. His fundraising haul indicates he may fall well short of his goal.

Honour is on track to meet or exceed the $1 million mark, largely because he has poured more than $900,000 of his own money into his campaign and also raised significant cash from donors.

Monday was the deadline for Minnesota candidates to file their campaign fundraising hauls. Those figures will be released Tuesday.

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger