More than a year remains until the 2020 election. But campaign cash is already flowing to Minnesota’s congressional delegation — and their potential rivals.
The latest quarterly federal fundraising reports were due Tuesday, giving political handicappers and analysts a look at how candidates for Congress and the White House are faring on the money front.
Here’s a look at what the reports, which cover contributions and spending between July and September, tell us about top candidates and races here in Minnesota.
A solid start for some challengers
A number of prominent challengers to Minnesota’s congressional incumbents launched their campaigns during the third quarter, providing the first glimpse of their potential fundraising prowess — or lack thereof. Republican Michelle Fischbach, a former state lawmaker challenging DFL Rep. Collin Peterson in the Seventh District, raised more than $100,000 in her first month in the race. Former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis took in more than $400,000 in a similar time frame for his bid against U.S. Sen. Tina Smith.
Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar has attracted a number of could-be challengers in the Fifth Congressional District. Two of those candidates — Independent Chris Kelley and Republican Lacy Johnson — raised mid- to high six-figures during the quarter. Both, however, ended September with less than $60,000 cash on hand. Omar, who won the district with 78% of the vote in 2018, reported raising a record $1.1 million and has $1.5 million in campaign cash.
Southern Minnesota’s First Congressional District is expected to be one of the biggest battlegrounds of 2020. Democrat Dan Feehan, who lost narrowly to GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn in 2018, said he raised $100,000 in the first 24 hours of his rematch campaign. Because he announced his candidacy in October, Feehan won’t have to file a full report until early next year. Hagedorn, meanwhile, raised about $212,000 over the past three months, ending the quarter with $459,000.
Most incumbents still have a money edge
Omar isn’t the only incumbent with a big cash advantage. Smith, a Democrat, has about $2.7 million in the bank — more than seven times Lewis’ balance. Democratic Rep. Angie Craig raised more than $550,000 for her re-election bid in the Second District, bringing her total cash on hand to $1.1 million. U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, a freshman Democrat who self-funded part of his 2018 campaign, has $225,000 in reserves — more than double the nearly $98,000 that Republican challenger Kendall Qualls has on hand. Qualls, who entered the race for the suburban Third District in July, reported about $113,000 in contributions, including a $20,000 personal loan. Even with Fischbach’s strong start in the Seventh, Peterson holds a large cash lead. The longtime incumbent has more than $900,000 in the bank.
Amy Klobuchar faces a potential cash crunch
Presidential candidates, including Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, also faced a key reporting deadline. Klobuchar raised about $4.8 million for her bid, trailing most of her top-tier rivals. That figure marks her second-best haul yet and a million dollars more than she took in between April and June. But Klobuchar also spent $7.8 million over the past three months, a big increase from previous quarters. A spike in payroll, as she staffed up in key early states, appeared to contribute to the burn. As a result, Klobuchar reported just $3.6 million in the bank as of Sept. 30 — millions less than she had at the start of previous quarters. Recent Facebook ads and fundraising pleas from her campaign implore supporters to send her money so she can raise her profile in hopes of qualifying for the next debate.