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Two Minneapolis mayoral candidates are dominating the fundraising race less than a week left before Election Day.
Mark Andrew, Betsy Hodges and supporting groups have raised more than half of the $1.7 million that has poured into the hotly contested mayor’s race, according to campaign finance reports released Tuesday. Independent groups that can raise and spend unlimited funds have buttressed traditional fundraising in the race, paying for a barrage of advertising.
The top fundraiser by far was Andrew, a former Hennepin County commissioner. His campaign has brought in $420,280, and won an additional boost from outside group Coalition for a Better Minneapolis. That organization has used much of the $136,500 it has raised to buy mailers and TV ads on his behalf, largely fueled by the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, publisher Vance Opperman and unions representing firefighters, electricians, sprinkler and pipe fitters and public employees.
Hodges, the City Council budget chair, has raised $285,266 over the course of the campaign and lent herself $21,500. Another group, drawing on Service Employees International Union donations, has been paying for direct mail on her behalf, but they raised a fraction of Andrew’s group. Hodges also has about $40,000 of debt.
Andrew and Hodges are among 35 candidates — eight with structured campaigns — vying to replace outgoing Mayor R.T. Rybak in a race that’s been wildly unpredictable because of ranked-choice voting and little polling.
Andrew’s campaign spending is rivaled only by independent Dan Cohen, who has shelled out about $320,000 of his own money on the race so far. Cohen’s loan is a sizable chunk of the $1.6 million that has funneled into the race. Much of that has gone to advertising on radio, TV and local newspapers. Cohen, a City Council president in the 1960s, has done almost no fundraising.
Council Member Don Samuels was one of the leading candidates who didn’t file campaign finance reports by Tuesday evening, but his campaign provided estimates of the numbers. An independent group supporting Jackie Cherryhomes raised about $50,000.
On average, candidates reported raising about half the funds in the last two months. The only top candidate whose fundraising increased over the prior period was Park Board Commissioner Bob Fine, although his take rose only from $5,675 to $15,360.
Cherryhomes, a former City Council president who is now a business consultant and lobbyist, came in fourth in fundraising but counted many big names in her donor list. They included the Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley, developer Stu Ackerberg, Target executive vice president John Griffith and businessman Jim Graves.
Independent Cam Winton has raised $108,705 over the course of the campaign.
Council challengers fare well
The new reports also show that challengers in a smattering of the tightest council races in the city outraised their more-establishment competitors.
In south Minneapolis’ Ninth Ward, Socialist candidate Ty Moore trumped DFL-endorsed contender Alondra Cano in fundraising. He has taken in $46,074, while she raised $29,470. Moore, who wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, attracted donations from as far away as New York and Washington state.
Moore said some of those out-of-state contributions came from Socialist and Green Party supporters.
“We were surprised at the numbers too, but we’ve said from the beginning [that] we’re trying to run a very serious campaign,” he said. “A lot of people wrote us off as just a protest challenge.”
In the Third Ward, straddling the central riverfront, attorney Jacob Frey raised $101,246 in his bid to defeat eight-year Council Member Diane Hofstede — more than double the amount she brought in so far. Hofstede currently owes $71,955 in unpaid bills. Both candidates lent themselves $10,000 each this year.
Council Member Robert Lilligren, who faces a stiff challenge from Somali candidate Abdi Warsame in the Sixth Ward, raised $33,490. Warsame’s numbers were not available Tuesday.