Candidates Mark Andrew and Betsy Hodges have pulled in the most money so far in what is expected to be a very costly race.
More than $1 million has already poured into the all-out scramble to be Minneapolis’ next mayor, according to campaign finance reports released Tuesday that offered the first glimpse of candidate strength two months before the election.
Former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew led the pack of 35 candidates in fundraising, raking in more than $272,000 from about 1,200 donors, followed by City Council Member Betsy Hodges, who took in more than $188,000 from more than 1,000 donors.
But the race for leadership of the state’s largest city remains wide open, since there is no primary to winnow candidates and voters’ second and third choices will play key roles in determining the ultimate winner.
Andrew said the race is already a costly endeavor, predicting that he’ll need to raise almost twice as much in the next two months. “I think we need to raise at least a half-million dollars,” he said before a forum Tuesday night. “At least, and that number could easily go up.”
The release of the campaign finance reports is an important indicator of where candidates are drawing support. Much of the money has already been spent. Reports showed that candidates have already paid more than $700,000 for staffers, event fees, printing, online ads and other campaign expenditures. That number is expected to rise as candidates ramp up advertising this fall.
Despite raising almost no money, independent Dan Cohen has outspent every candidate but Andrew in the race. The former City Council president — 1967 to 1969 — lent his campaign $285,000, largely with settlement money from a suit against the Star Tribune in the 1990s. That loan constitutes a big chunk of the $1 million in revenues claimed by candidates Tuesday. His spending has been on TV, radio and print ads.
Following Andrew and Hodges in donor contributions: City Council Member Don Samuels with $101,602, former City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes with $76,775 and attorney Cam Winton with $72,799. Cherryhomes lent her campaign $31,000. The top fundraisers — except for Winton, an independent — are DFLers.
“We have to raise money but more than that, we’ve got to talk to voters. It’s people who will cast their ballots,” said Cherryhomes, who wouldn’t speculate on how much this campaign will cost.
Wide range of donors
Andrew’s donor list includes many old professional contacts, including: Jeff Spartz and Peter McLaughlin, who served with him on the County Board; lobbyist and former Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, for whom Andrew was a staffer decades ago; and Kathy Tunheim, whose public relations firm offered Andrew a lucrative job for which he left his county post in 1998. Additionally, the CEO of the Minnesota Twins, Jim Pohlad, and his family donated $1,500; Andrew’s environmental firm, GreenMark, has done consulting for the baseball team.
Other Andrew donors include former Mayor Don Fraser, Hubbard Broadcasting founder and frequent GOP donor Stanley Hubbard, and Minneapolis DFL Chair Dan McConnell, who is also business manager of the city’s Building and Construction Trades Council. The party declined to endorse a candidate, while the council backed Andrew.
Hodges received contributions from employees of organizations that support female political candidates, affordable housing, grass roots organizing, early childhood education and various progressive agendas. Donations also flowed in from people associated with prominent downtown nightclubs.
The City Council budget chair owes other people $53,675 but has just $50,718 cash on hand. That’s on top of $21,500 in loans Hodges made to her campaign.
Her campaign owes $27,717 to two Washington, D.C.-based firms: Well & Lighthouse, which does political consulting, and Pivot Group, which handles voter communications for Democratic candidates. She owes $13,000 to Kristen McMullen, who has directed her financing and previously fundraised for pro-gay marriage group Minnesotans United for All Families.
Hodges’ campaign manager, Andy O’Leary, said the debts were planned, and the candidate’s loan was needed to hire a campaign staffer earlier than expected.
Samuels received contributions from North Side establishments and developers, along with a handful of donations tied to the Vikings — he is the only mayoral candidate who voted for the team’s new stadium.
In addition to the competitive mayor’s race, seven of 13 City Council seats are up for grabs in competitive or open elections.
Among the most notable postings Tuesday was from attorney Jacob Frey, who raised $62,326 in his bid to unseat Council Member Diane Hofstede. Hofstede raised just short of $30,000. Both lent their campaigns $10,000.