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.
"They won't even let me have water," Jeff Johnson, a Republican candidate for governor said Friday from his hospital bed.
Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner who is vying in a competitive August primary, had emergency stomach surgery on Monday. His surgeons discovered a perforation in his stomach and repaired it.
But Johnson is on the mend. He may be allowed to eat -- or at least drink something -- on Saturday and hopes to be released from Maple Grove Hospital Sunday or Monday. He will be back to campaigning next week, although not with full vigor he had before his peptic ulcer was discovered on Monday.
Johnson, who is 47 years old, had little warning of the problem.
He said he suffered from some back and leg pain late last week and was on a course of steroids and ibuprofen to treat it. Then Sunday into the wee hours of Monday, he had severe stomach pain.
Early Monday morning, he went to the urgent care, which eventually sent him on to the hospital for the surgery.
Johnson said he hadn't had similar issues before.
"It was a complete surprise," he said. Although the problem in his stomach was called an ulcer, he said it was not stress-related and was likely made worse by the drugs regimen he had started for his back pain.
Johnson, of Plymouth, said his doctors were unmoved by his jokes that the problem came at a bad time for him politically.
And yes, he said, he has made some fundraising calls from his hospital bed.
"I'm actually hitting up the doctors and nurses pretty hard," he joked.
Johnson will face Rep. Kurt Zellers, former Rep. Marty Seifert, businessman Scott Honour and others in a primary on Aug. 12.
Here's the reflection on his ailment Johnson released on Facebook this week:
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.
Last year, Gov. Mark Dayton earned $352,601, a little less than half of which came from capital gains, according to tax returns he released on Wednesday.
The DFL governor, who has released his tax returns every year since 2010, gave $10,000 to charity and paid $76,008 in federal taxes and $29,932 in state taxes, for an effective tax rate of 30 percent.
The heir to the Dayton's department store fortune earned $116,092 from his state salary and $73,062 from dividends.
In 2012, Dayton earned a similar amount from similar sources but only gave $1,000 to charity. He said at the time that he was" disappointed in myself," because of his lack of charitable contributions. He gave ten times more in 2013 than he gave in 2012. His total giving equaled about 3 percent of his 2013 income.
Releasing tax returns is not a requirement of Minnesota politicians. State law mandates only minimal release of economic interests.
Zellers’ spokeswoman Caitlyn Stenerson said he will not release his until post-primary because getting them ready would take too much precious time during the heated run-up to the August 12 election.
GOP candidate Marty Seifert declined to release his tax information last year and did so again this year.
"I don't think our income tax return is anyone's business, but can assure you our household income is less than the other GOP candidates and much less than Governor Dayton," Seifert said in a statement.
The four Republicans will vie in an August primary. The winner of that contest will face Dayton in the fall.