Fundraising reports help size up governor, House races as they prepare to heat up.
DFLers and Republicans are locked in a fierce fundraising battle as they enter a crucial and high-stakes phase in their quest for the governor’s office and control of the Minnesota House.
Minnesotans have already poured more than $1.4 million into the two races, offering an early peek at what is shaping up to be a fierce and costly campaign season.
Republicans are intent on breaking DFL control of the governor’s office and the House, which could give the GOP, after two years as a powerless minority, a way to block their opponents’ initiatives.
But those plans could be hindered by a state Republican Party that remains hobbled by more than $500,000 in debt, lackluster fundraising and just $26,000 in the bank.
DFLers outraised or have more in the bank than Republicans in nearly every instance, whether it is a direct party matchup or the fight for the House.
“It’s a great starting point,” DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said.
Fresh from more than a year of one-party control in St. Paul, the House DFL caucus held a commanding lead in fundraising. It has raised $596,907 so far this year, with more than $1 million in the bank.
“I’m pleased with people’s continued support of the direction we’re moving in the state, and the numbers reflect that,” said House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis. “There’s a lot of folks out there that want us to continue to make progress.”
House Republicans raised $219,100, with $618,175 in cash. . They vow to intensify their fundraising efforts as the legislative session ends and members are freed from restrictions against raising money during session.
Defining the governor’s race
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, who is leading the effort to retake the House, said that with the liberal policies DFLers have promoted, “they’re going to need a lot of resources.” The Crown Republican vowed that fundraising will be “better than it ever has been in the past.”
Early money is already starting to reshuffle the dynamics in the governor’s race. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has raised $195,868 — a modest start for an incumbent governor, but the department store heir has deep pockets and has proved willing to contribute heavily to his previous races.
A leading GOP rival, Orono businessman Scott Honour, managed to outraise Dayton, netting more than $200,000 in the first quarter of 2014. Honour gave his fundraising another bump with a personal loan of $50,000.
Dayton has been recuperating from hip surgery at the governor’s residence in a body cast for several weeks, limiting his ability to raise money in person. Even so, Dayton has cash on hand of $733,114 — well more than the entire six-candidate GOP field has in the bank.
Dayton downplayed the significance of the early numbers.
“Everybody’s constrained in the same way,” he said Tuesday. “During the legislative session, it puts a damper on everybody’s fundraising.”
Dayton is touting a string of legislative victories, like the minimum-wage increase and a new tax-relief measure. Republicans are hammering him over the fumbled rollout of MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange.
Honour had the best quarter financially, raising substantially more than other Republican candidates. He did not make himself available for comment Tuesday.