Dayton fortune fueling his campaign

  • Article by: PAT DOYLE and RACHEL E. STASSEN-BERGER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 1, 2010 - 10:02 PM

Finance reports indicate governor's race could set spending record.

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Mark Dayton

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Millionaire and former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton dipped into his own pocket to gather more campaign cash than anyone else running for Minnesota governor, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday.

The DFLer's performance signals that he is willing to self-finance much of his campaign, a tactic that ups the ante for all other candidates. Fellow DFLer Matt Entenza also has family wealth to tap and has said he is willing to spend to win.

All told, candidates running for governor this year reported in their 2009 fundraising reports having raised more than $3 million. Their 2009 reports, which were due to the state Monday. That puts the crowded race on track to break records of spendy gubernatorial campaigns.

Dayton reported raising $641,822 through the end of 2009, far outpacing Entenza, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. Dayton dipped into his own substantial fortune to lend his campaign $570,000.

"I will continue to rely upon my own resources to run a winning campaign," Dayton said Monday. In the last two gubernatorial elections, wealthy candidates poured money into their campaigns but ended up dropping out before any voters went to the polls. Dayton plans to continue his run until an expected August primary.

The former U.S. senator, who spent nearly $12 million to win his seat in 2000, declined to say how much he was willing to spend this time.

"That's like asking Brad Childress for his playbook," Dayton said.

Entenza reported raising more than $405,000, with $80,000 of it his own contribution or money he lent to his campaign.

The figures reported Monday reflect money raised in 2009 or earlier, minus spending in previous years. Four candidates had cash left over from 2008 or before.

Among DFLers, State Sen. Tom Bakk's finance report shows $339,925 raised this year or left over from last year. DFL State Rep. Paul Thissen reported $338,065, while Kelliher reported $256,232.

Former State Sen. Steve Kelley reported $199,912. Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner, $163,910, State Sen. John Marty, $140,988. Rep. Tom Rukavina, $142,073.

Rybak raised $167,842 in 2009. Last week, Rybak claimed he raised nearly double that in fundraising this month.

On the Republican side, State Rep. Marty Seifert raised $262,753. Rep. Tom Emmer's reports were not available by close of business Monday but his campaign said recently that he had raised $115,000 in 2009.

Reports showed some candidates falling far behind the top tier of recipients, a sign that their campaigns are flagging. Republican State Sen. David Hann raised $35,006 and former Rep. Bill Haas pulled in $16,852.

Several candidates had little left to spend at the end of last year -- Haas ended the year with a little more than $3,000 left; Gaertner, who has said she will run in a primary, had about $4,000 in cash on hand and Hann, who will drop out if he doesn't get his party's endorsement in April, had about $8,000.

By contrast, Bakk and Seifert each started the year with more than $130,000 left in the bank.

The Republican Party of Minnesota said it raised $615,591. The Independence Party says it brought in $18,063. The report from the DFL was not available by the end of the day. Although reports were due Monday, they are considered on time so long as they are postmarked or electronically sent by midnight.

Counting contributors

Who gave the candidates cash can be telling. For Dayton, at least 20 of his contributors share his last name. He also picked up contributions from California, New York, Georgia, Connecticut and other states besides Minnesota. Much of Dayton's spending went to support nearly two dozen staffers.

Bakk, the Senate tax chair, picked up $29,736 from Capitol lobbyists. Kelliher got $25,333. Rukavina got $20,179 from lobbyists.

Among Republicans, Rep. Marty Seifert got money from media mogul Stanley Hubbard and former state Sen. Bob Kierlin, a millionaire who founded a construction supply company.

Incumbents and challengers for Minnesota's eight U.S. House seats raised $7.8 million in 2009, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

In the competitive west suburban Third District, Republican incumbent Erik Paulsen raised nearly $1.2 million last year, far outpacing his Democratic challengers Maureen Hackett and James Meffert. Hackett raised $138,203 and Meffert $47,792.

Sixth District incumbent Michele Bachmann, a Republican, raised $1.5 million last year, more than her challengers combined. Democrats Tarryl Clark and Maureen Reed raised $602,095 and $574,625 respectively. The Sixth District straddles the northern Twin Cities.

First District Rep. Tim Walz raised $706,869. That includes $4,000 from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Of Walz's Republican challengers, Allen Quist reported raising $32,853, while Randy Demmer raised $19,200. Republican James Hagedorn raised $5,150.

In other races, Fourth District incumbent Betty McCollum, a Democrat, raised $376,834 for the east metro district. In the suburban Second District, Republican John Kline raised $676,581. Fifth District incumbent Keith Ellison, a Democrat, raised $498,102 for his Minneapolis-based district.

In the Seventh District in northwestern Minnesota, incumbent Democrat Collin Peterson raised $526,480. Eighth District incumbent James Oberstar, a Democrat, raised $892,400 in his northeastern Minnesota district.

Pat Doyle • 651-222-1210 Rachel E. Stassen-Berger • 651-292-0164

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