Minneapolis has at least three big-money candidates running for mayor, according to campaign finance reports released Tuesday that showed more than $1.3 million has already poured into the scramble for the top job at City Hall.
Council Member Jacob Frey leads the pack of candidates who released copies of their reports, raising $359,879 this year. He’s followed by Tom Hoch, who raised $227,172 over the past seven months and loaned himself another $226,000. Mayor Betsy Hodges raised $204,138 and loaned her campaign $54,000.
It’s a stark contrast from the last mayoral election, when only two candidates — Hodges and Mark Andrew — raised more than $150,000 over the same time period.
But deep coffers have not been the deciding factor in recent mayoral elections, and the race for leadership of the state’s largest city remains wide open because there is no primary to winnow candidates. Under the ranked-choice voting system, voters’ second and third choices will also play key roles in determining the winner.
Hoch has been the biggest spender, coughing up nearly $300,000 already, most of it on staff salaries, payroll taxes and television ads. Frey has spent $244,199 this year, and Hodges has spent $241,406. For them, also, the largest expenses were salaries and payroll taxes, followed by consulting fees.
Mayoral candidate Aswar Rahman raised $13,625. State Rep. Ray Dehn — who finished first at the DFL convention in July — Al Flowers and Nekima Levy-Pounds had not provided copies of their reports Tuesday night.
More than 500 donors contributed to Frey’s campaign, including people associated with more than a dozen real estate developers, and several prominent names in the restaurant industry. Frey, who started the year with $177,000 he raised as a council member, also received donations from AFSCME, the Local 49 engineers union and the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council.
“The people of Minneapolis want a fresh start, and we’re proud to show that we’ve received support from folks in every ward and of every walk of life in the city,” Frey said.
Frey returned a $250 donation he received in 2015 from the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, after he came under criticism the week before the DFL convention.
Though Frey has attracted the financial support of many downtown business interests, he has competition in Hoch.
Hoch’s report shows support from people working at a raft of big companies and law firms and donors connected to the Minneapolis Downtown Council. He received a donation from Bill McGuire, the owner of Minnesota United.
“We’re very confident that we’ll have the resources to run a robust campaign all the way to November,” said Kieran McCarney, Hoch’s campaign manager.
Several donors are hedging their bets. The Minneapolis Downtown Council’s political action committee donated to Frey, Hodges and Hoch, as did members of the Pohlad family, which owns the Twins, among other things. Strip club owner Peter Hafiz donated to both Hoch and Frey.
Some 330 donors contributed to Hodges’ campaign, including two arms of the Service Employees International Union — SEIU Healthcare and the union’s state council.
“In 2013, and my council races prior, I was never the candidate with the most money, yet I always won,” Hodges said in a statement. “I’ll do the same this year with my campaign team committed to grass roots organizing and reaching out to residents throughout all neighborhoods across the city.”
Hodges’ campaign returned $750 in donations in February and July from landlord Steve Frenz, who is at odds with the city on multiple fronts and the Hodges campaign had already returned a 2016 donation from him.
At the end of the reporting period, Frey had the most cash on hand: $293,307. Hoch had $145,574, and Hodges had $57,901.
Council races up for grabs
All 13 City Council seats are up for election and two are open contests without incumbents.
In the race for the open Third Ward seat, Socialist Alternative candidate Ginger Jentzen — a leader in the push for a citywide $15 minimum wage — raised more than $60,000 in small amounts from more than 1,000 donors. DFL-endorsed candidate Steve Fletcher raised about $21,000, including $4,500 from several local unions.
In the Ninth Ward, former council member Gary Schiff raised $48,595, more than three times as much as incumbent Alondra Cano. Most contributions to Schiff’s campaign were $500 or more, from donors including local housing developers, unions and people associated with downtown nightclubs.
As in 2013, longtime Council Member Lisa Goodman was a fundraising leader. Her campaign brought in more than $72,000 in contributions and reported $142,488 in cash on hand — nearly $42,000 more than at this time four years ago. Challenger Janne Flisrand reported about $43,000 in contributions.
Staff writer Emma Nelson contributed to this story.