Hundreds of thousands of dollars are flowing into the St. Paul and Minneapolis mayoral races, with nine months to go before the general election.
Candidates’ fundraising varied widely, but clear leaders have emerged in both cities, campaign finance reports filed Tuesday show.
Among the five candidates for Minneapolis mayor, Council Member Jacob Frey led the pack with more than $91,000 raised in 2016. Incumbent Betsy Hodges followed with nearly $60,000. In St. Paul, Melvin Carter III has raised $152,370, giving him a significant financial head start over the other candidates vying to replace Mayor Chris Coleman.
About 800 people from across the nation donated to Carter, a former St. Paul City Council member and executive director of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet. The donors include prominent DFLers, from U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison to numerous state officials.
“I’ve been a part of the national progressive movement for a really long time,” said Carter, who started fundraising in 2015, well before his competition, and included an extra month in his report filed Tuesday. “Everyone’s just getting started. So there’s a long road ahead.”
In Minneapolis, Frey’s haul, including donations from prominent DFLers and the firefighters union, leaves him with $177,627 cash on hand. His campaign got a boost Tuesday when the state Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board said he could use the money raised through his City Council campaign committee in his run for mayor.
“We wanted to do this right and by the book, so I’m really glad there’s clarity in today’s decision,” Frey said.
Hodges, whose donors include people connected with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Council Member Lisa Bender, has a balance of $41,170 in her campaign account after spending $30,000. She also still owes herself $21,500 on a loan she made to her campaign in 2013.
“We’re running a grassroots campaign focused on engaging voters in every neighborhood of the city,” Hodges’ campaign manager Jorge Contreras said in a statement Tuesday. “I know that we’ll have the resources we need to engage every person in this city about their vision for the next four years.”
Other Minneapolis mayoral candidates raised much less money. Civil rights activist Nekima Levy-Pounds raised about $6,000. Rep. Raymond Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis, raised about $6,000, though he noted that he didn’t announce his candidacy until the end of December.
“I continue to raise money every day,” Dehn said, adding that his fundraising goal for the remainder of the campaign is $50,000 a month.
Two of the other candidates in the St. Paul mayor’s race also said they expect to ramp up their fundraising.
Pat Harris, another former St. Paul council member and senior vice president at BMO Harris Bank, started fundraising Dec. 6 and reported receiving $54,540 in 2016.
“We feel pretty good about where we’re at. We’ve got a lot of support,” Harris said.
Council Member Dai Thao, the most recent entrant in the St. Paul race, had not filed a new report with the Ramsey County Elections Office by Tuesday. But a prior report lists nearly $1,755 in contributions between Dec. 28 and Dec. 31. Unlike Frey, Thao said he does not plan to transfer the $28,755 balance from his council campaign committee to the mayor’s race.
“The way for us to win is to work hard and get in front of the residents and talk to them. We’re not going to spend time trying to figure out how to move our money around,” Thao said.
Ramsey County Elections had not received a January report, which sums up all 2016 donations and expenses, from Tom Goldstein by Tuesday afternoon. Goldstein, who served on the St. Paul school board, previously reported having $3,014 in his coffers, which he loaned to his campaign in October.
Campaign finance reports were also due Tuesday for City Council candidates in Minneapolis. Citywide, council incumbents tended to lead their challengers. Of those who had filed reports, most had raised more than $20,000 in 2016.