Minneapolis mayor's rivals slow in filling coffers

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 14, 2009 - 9:38 PM

Remember not to vote today in Minneapolis, where Rybak's campaign has big lead in fundraising.

How slowly are this year's Minneapolis city elections getting off the ground?

So slowly that the city sent out a reminder Monday urging voters not to go to the polls today, which would have been the traditional primary election day before the onset of ranked-choice voting, which Minneapolis begins this year.

So slowly that incumbent Mayor R.T. Rybak reported raising nearly 19 times more in campaign funds than all of his challengers combined. He said he won't slack off on raising dough.

Rybak's campaign reported raising $259,924 for the year through Sept. 1. That's ahead of his 2005 pace. Rybak raised $245,725 by the primary that year when he faced opposition from a political heavy hitter in Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin.

None of Rybak's 10 challengers has reported raising more than $9,800, and six of them apparently haven't hit the $100 campaign spending threshold that triggers financial reporting.

The DFL-endorsed Rybak reported spending $201,736, meaning his campaign bank balance rose from $9,200 at the start of the year to $67,388 with nine weeks to go in the campaign.

Perennial candidate Dick Franson, DFL, ranked a distant second in fundraising with a self-financed $9,798. DFLer Al Flowers, perhaps Rybak's most vocal challenger to date, raised $2,330, with 65 cents on hand. John Kolstad, who carries Republican and Independence party endorsements, raised $1,050 but said he's not spent any of it. William McGaughey of the fledgling New Dignity Party, reported collecting $607.68.

Rybak's campaign reported raising more than half of its campaign kitty from contributors who gave the maximum $500 permitted in an election year.

But the incumbent said he's not planning to slack off his pace despite his commanding lead in digging up money. One argument for doing so would be to preserve some reserve capacity among his base of contributors, given that he has said he's "very likely" to run for governor next year. "It's very important to me to be able to tell my story," Rybak said of his mayoral fundraising pace. He said he'll be stumping to return the current council lineup to City Hall.

The reports are required under a hastily passed ordinance that set a Sept. 1 date, preserving the traditional pre-primary finance report even though there's no primary this year. That's because ranked-choice voting combines aspects of a traditional primary and a general election in allowing voters to rank up to three candidates in the order they prefer. That happens Nov. 3.

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438

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