By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glenn Howatt
Facing an August primary, Republicans are spending money quickly but DFL Gov. Mark Dayton hoarding more cash until the GOP sorts out its contest, according to recent campaign finance reports.
In the required pre-primary reports, Dayton has held on to nearly $850,000 of the cash he has raised despite spending more per day on his campaign operations than his would-be Republican rivals.
Republican Scott Honour, one of four men with organized campaigns for the GOP primary next month, spent nearly as much per day and had more than $540,000 left to spend in the build up to the primary. Honour, a first time candidate whose background, has brought in nearly $1.2 million for his campaign, much of it from personal loans to his campaign.
Dig into all the numbers -- including those from Republican-endorsed Jeff Johnson, Rep. Kurt Zellers and former Rep. Marty Seifert -- below:
Political campaigns are starting to release their latest fundraising figures ahead of Tuesday's deadline.
The Minnesota House Democratic caucus said it would post big numbers in their report due out Tuesday. According to the caucus, the Democratic campaign organization, fighting to keep House control in DFL hands, has raised $1.5 million this year, $780,000 in since June 1 alone. It has more than $1.5 million cash-on-hand to continue the battle.
In a release, the caucus said it had already raised more than the DFL caucus did in all of 2010, the last midterm election and the year Democrats lost control of the House.
Republican-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson also reported his most recent fundraising figures.
His campaign said he raised about $170,000 since Johnson was endorsed by the party at the end of May. He had $123,000 cash on hand.
Johnson, whose fundraising had lagged compared to his spending earlier this year, will face a competitive four-way primary in August against Rep. Kurt Zellers, businessman Scott Honour and former Rep. Marty Seifert.
Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, had said in June that he expected the campaign would need to raise $1 million before the primary. His fundraising haul makes it appear he will fall well short of his goal.
Honour, however, is on track to meet or exceed the $1 million mark. He has poured more than $900,000 of his own money into his campaign and raised significant cash from donors as well.
Monday was the deadline for Minnesota candidates to file their campaign fundraising hauls. Those figures will be released on Tuesday.
A renewed wave of political ads are adding heat to Minnesota's sultry summer television viewing.
With one of the nation's most expensive U.S. Senate races on the air, gubernatorial candidates making their cases and outside groups adding volume, paid political pitches are redoubling their assault.
The candidates and their friends have already spent at least $3 million to air their messages across the state and groups are reserving even more time for later in the year.
In recent weeks, the paid advertising messages came into sharper focus.
On Monday, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden announced he would broadcast an ad called "Stitches," in which he and his son brag that McFadden took his sons sutures out himself rather than paying medical professions to do it. The ad, which had a limited cable run earlier this year, came on the heels of an ad in which McFadden was hit below the belt by a kid he was coaching in football.
While those ads have begun to get significant notice, Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken's ad budget far surpasses what McFadden has spent. Franken has ponied up more than $1.5 million to spread a message that he cares more about regular Minnesotans than partisan Washington fights.
Franken has more money to spend. He is one of the Senate's most prodigious fundraisers and raised more than all but one incumbent in the last quarter of the year, according to recent reports.
While that premiere race has yet to attract much outside cash in recent months, races lower on the ballot are attracting notice.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson supporters banded together to produce an advertisement designed to support the party-endorsed candidate. Group volunteer Chris Tiedeman, an RNC committeeman, told Politics.MN it would air on television in the coming weeks.
Johnson's campaign said on Monday it would start running its own ads on cable in advance of the primary. Like McFadden's "Stitches" ad, the Johnson ad has been online for months and, like the McFadden ad, it take a lighthearted approach to a serious issue.
Republican Rep. Kurt Zellers, who will vie against Johnson, former Rep. Marty Seifert and businessman Scott Honour, started his own paid advertising program last week. Honour’s consultant Pat Shortridge said Honour has spent almost $100,000 on cable ad time and another $42,000 on radio ads. A group largely funded by Honour's former employer, the Gores Group, has also spent more than $200,000 to support Honour.
Meanwhile, the man the Republicans hope to unseat, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has yet to storm the airwaves -- but his friends have started the assault.
The big spending Democratic Alliance for a Better Minnesota put significant cash behind a pro-Dayton ad that began airing recently.
The Alliance, which invested considerable cash back in 2010 to bash Dayton's Republican opponent, used the ad to make a pitch for the idea that Minnesota is better off now than it was four years ago before Dayton was elected.
Television viewers this year had already seen ads trashing Dayton. Early this month, the big spending conservative Freedom Club began airing an anti-Dayton ad on broadcast television.
A state Office of Administrative Hearings panel rejected claims by Matt Entenza that Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto lied when she said she had not voted for legislation requiring voter identification.
In an 11-page order issued Thursday, the three-judge panel rejected the official campaign complaint filed by Entenza, who is challenging Otto in a DFL primary Aug. 12. Entenza, a former House minority leader, filed for the office in the last moments before deadline, surprising Otto, a former House colleague, and many DFLers.
Entenza filed the complaint in June based on a Facebook comment Otto posted, after she was asked if she voted for Voter ID as a state legislator. Otto responded to the post saying "No, Lauren. It was not around in 2003. No one can find a bill on the issue when I served."
Otto wrote that no one could find a 2003 voter ID bill that she had opposed, as Entenza had claimed.
"Matt will say anything," she said in the post.
According to the ruling, two bills proposing the requirement of identification at the polls were presented on the House floor during the 2003 legislative session. Then-state Rep. Keith Ellison at the time presented an amendment removing the voter identification language from the legislation, which Otto voted against. Of the two bills, Otto voted against one that would require voter identification and in favor of another requring voter ID. However, the Voter ID language was stripped from the language in conference committee and Otto voted in favor of the revised version.
Otto said that the statement on her Facebook page was in reference to the highly- controversial proposed Voter ID amendment to the state constition defeated by voters in 2012, not the 2003 bills, which provided an exception for individuals without identification. Otto also maintained that she did not recall "Voter ID" being an issue when she served in the Legislature, and that her Facebook page is not "campaign material."
In dismissing the case, the panel concluded that "there are no disputed facts in this matter--only differing interpretations of the meaning of the phrase "voter ID," which is not sufficient for Entenza to bring a case.
"Ms. Otto's quick response to the Facebook post tends to support the conclusion that she subjectively understood her response to be truthful," the panel wrote.
Entenza campaign manager Dave Colling, who brought the complaint on the candidate's behalf, said Thursday that Otto's record on voter ID remains an issue for the campaign.
"Even though the case was dismissed it didn't go as far as to say she did not vote for voter ID," Colling said. "At the end of the day it doesn't change the fact that she voted for voter ID in the Legislature twice."
In a statement issued by the DFL, Otto's attorney, Charlie Nauen, called the ruling "a complete victory for Rebecca Otto over Matt Entenza's misleading claims and distortion of the facts."
"I have never voted for Voter ID," Otto said in the statement. "In fact, I campaigned against it."
"Rebecca Otto had it right," DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said. "Matt Entenza will say anything to get himself elected."
Read the ruling here:
Republican candidate for governor Scott Honour has added another $500,000 in personal funds to his campaign coffers, his campaign manager said Thursday.
The new cash infusion just 19 days before Minnesotans decide whether to pick him or one of his rivals to take on DFL Gov. Mark Dayton in the fall could give the little-known businessman a boost in the final days of the campaign.
"From the start, Scott's made sure the campaign has what it takes financially to win the Governor's race. But this campaign is about a lot more than money. It's about who voters can trust to make real change in St Paul," said Honour senior consultant Pat Shortridge.
So far, Honour has been the best funded GOP candidate for governor, with more than $900,000 of his campaign cash coming from his own pocket. His campaign said he raised $100,000 from others in the past few months.
He will face fellow Republicans Kurt Zellers, a former House speaker, Marty Seifert, a former House minority leader, and Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner and the GOP-endorsed pick in the primary. Honour is the only one among the bunch who has never run for office before.
Minnesotans have proven they bear no ill-will toward self-funded candidates.
Gov. Mark Dayton largely self-financed his campaign for governor in 2010 and his previous successful campaign for the U.S. Senate. He is fundraising from others for his re-election campaign.
All candidates must report their most recent campaign finance numbers on Monday. Those will be made public on Tuesday.
Photo: Scott Honour in a St. Cloud parade/Glenn Stubbe, Star Tribune
Correction: This post has corrected Pat Shortridge' title.
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