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Republican convention over, the race for cash has ramped up

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota governor, Republicans Updated: June 3, 2014 - 2:42 PM

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glenn Howatt

The political conventions are over, the intense race for cash has only ramped up.

“We are probably going to need to raise a million bucks to win the primary and maybe, another two and a half to three to win the general (election) ,” said Jeff Johnson, the newly endorsed Republican candidate for governor.

For Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, the quest for cash is particularly pressing.

Johnson will likely face three other Republicans in an August primary, who appeared to have spent far less on convention operations. Marty Seifert vied for endorsement but quickly fell behind and told delegates he would go to a primary without their nod. Republicans Kurt Zellers and Scott Honour did not even try for endorsement.

The next reports will include some of the pre-state convention fundraising and spending. Given that Johnson had a significant operation last weekend in Rochester, the spending numbers are likely to be high.

According to a Star Tribune analysis of campaign finance reports last spring, Johnson  has raised about $280,000 since getting into the race almost one year ago. But he has spent an average of $411 per day, with his spending doubling this year and his per day fundraising dropping. About $56,000 of his spending has gone to staffing, overhead and consultants. Another $40,000 went to postage and advertising.

Johnson has only raised about $450 more per day than he has spent.

"I don’t know how much I have left in the bank right now. We’ve got enough to move forward," Johnson said on Monday. "Frankly, none of us in the governor’s race have raised at the pace that we need to raise but that’s not a surprise because there were too many strong candidates. The endorsement I can tell you has already made a difference."

Seifert, a 2010 candidate for governor and a former House member, has raised $214,000 so far and spent an average of $471 per day since getting into the race in late October, with the bulk of his spending coming early this year. But he has, on average, raised about $900 more per day than he has spent. His single largest expense -- $24,000 --  so far has been overhead costs.

Zellers, a former House Speaker, has raised more – nearly $500,000 – but spent it just as quickly. Comparing average cash raised per day to average daily spending, he would have just $251 left per day. But his biggest single expense may be something that could pay dividends through the  August primary.

Zellers’ campaign spent nearly $250,000, half of what he’s brought in, on lists and databases. Much of that has gone to Pinnacle Direct, a direct mail, database and marking firm whose past client list reads like a who’s who of Republican politics.

Businessman Scott Honour has raised more than any of the other GOP contenders but has also spent far more. According to the latest reports available, he brought in almost $900,000, which included a $150,000 loan from Honour. On average, he brought in $2,400 in revenue per day of his year-old campaign.

But, on average, he spent $2,300 per day. Staff and consultants, including manager Pat Shortridge and fundraiser Shanna Woodbury, have been by far his biggest cash draws. Shortridge’s consulting firm had been paid $142,000 and Woodbury’s firm brought in $127,000 from Honour’s campaign, according to reports due by the middle of April.

On Monday, Honour displayed no worry about his ability to pay for his campaign.

“We want to make sure in our campaign that we had the infrastructure and the team and approach and plan to win and raise the money to win and we’ve done that,” Honour said. In late May, Shortridge said that Honour had added another $250,000 from his own pocket to the campaign coffers.

“We will continue to make sure that we have the resources to win,” said the former California-based private equity director.

In 2010, Gov. Mark Dayton, an heir to the Dayton department store fortune, put nearly $4 million of his own wealth into his primary and general election campaign. Asked if he would be willing to put a similarly high amount of his own cash into his campaign, Honour demurred.

“I’m not putting a number on it,” he said.

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