Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glenn Howatt
So far independent and party organizations groups have spent at least $3.7 million in this year's Minnesota governor's race with most of it coming from organizations that support DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's election.
It would take a significant acceleration for the groups, which are not controlled by candidates, to reach the spending levels set in 2010.
Four years ago, when the governor's race had no incumbent, outside groups spent at least $11 million by the end of the election, according to a Star Tribune analysis of campaign finance figures.
The outside groups include political action committees, parties and others that must register with the state. The cash figures do not include cash spent by political nonprofits, which do not need to report their spending to the Minnesota campaign finance agency.
Of the $3.7 million, at least $2.4 million has come from the DFL party, the Democrat-supporting Alliance for a Better Minnesota and union groups.
The lack of spending among outside groups appears similar in Minnesota House races, according to filings made public this week.
So far, those PACs and parties have spent just under $1 million to influence who controls the House next year. Nearly half of that has been ponied up by the DFL Party and the DFL House campaign arm.
In addition, the Freedom Club has run about $900,000 worth of television ads that trash both DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and the DFL Legislature. The Star Tribune included that figure to the spending on the governor's race.
Back in 2012, when the House was last up for election, PACs and parties spent a little more than $4 million to influence that election. Additionally, they spent about $6.7 million to influence the control of the Minnesota Senate. Senate seats will not be on the ballot until 2016.