WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. John Kline has banked $1.1 million to defend his south suburban congressional seat against national Democrats targeting him as one of a handful of vulnerable Republicans.
The targeted members all represent districts won by Democratic President Obama in 2012.
Kline’s fundraising, which includes $482,000 in the last quarter, gives him 10 times as much cash on hand as his top opponent, Democrat Mike Obermueller. A former state representative who lost to Kline in 2012, Obermueller reports having raised $130,000 in the last three months and has $100,000 banked for another run at the Second District seat.
Kline, who leads the influential House Education and Workforce Committee, has represented the district since 2003.
“Kline’s showing isn’t shocking considering his status as a committee chair and a [House Speaker John] Boehner confidant, but it’s an indication he’s taking 2014 very seriously,” said David Wasserman, who tracks congressional races for the Cook Political Report. “Obermueller’s more modest total isn’t surprising either, given his status as a long-shot challenger … but the race isn’t really that competitive so far.”
Kline defeated Obermueller by 8 percentage points last year.
Republican David Gerson, who captured 15 percent of the vote in a primary against Kline last year, also is challenging him again. He raised $23,057 during the second quarter.
Democrat Thomas Craft has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for the seat as well, but has not yet submitted his campaign finance report.
The Federal Election Commission will release finance records next week for all congressional campaigns covering the months of April, May and June.
The reports will reveal donors and how candidates are spending the donations.
Emmer sets pace in Sixth
In the Sixth Congressional District, Republican candidate Tom Emmer reports raising at least $220,000 for his bid to win the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Emmer raised the funds in less than a month after announcing his candidacy in early June. The 2010 gubernatorial candidate and former state House member, is among four candidates vying to replace Bachmann, who announced in late May that she would not seek re-election in 2014. He has more than $190,000 cash.
By way of comparison, Bachmann raised nearly $675,000 during the first three months of the year, but that was a below-average haul for her.
Two years ago, she raised $1.7 million during a single quarter.
“Bachmann set a standard for out-of-state support that won’t be matched by any candidate in the race to succeed her,” Wasserman said, but noted that “Emmer’s total is very respectable, given the time frame in which he raised it.”
State Sen. John Pederson of St. Cloud, who will hold a formal campaign kickoff on Thursday, said he has not focused on fundraising in his first two weeks in the race and had, as of his last update, about $35,000 in the bank. He said he is not concerned about Emmer’s much bigger number.
“He’s going to have an advantage. He’s run a statewide race,” Pederson said of Emmer. But, Pederson said, “Slow and steady wins the race.” Pederson said he is accustomed to difficult races, having “won four elections in the last six years in a very difficult district for Republicans.” Those victories, he said, prove he can win independent and conservative Democratic votes as well as Republican ones.
Other candidates include Republican Anoka County Commission Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah, and DFLer Judy Adams, an environmental activist from Circle Pines, who have yet to release their fundraising reports.
Staff writer Rachel Stassen-Berger contributed to this report.
Corey Mitchell is a correspondent in the Star Tribune Washington Bureau. Twitter: @C_C_Mitchell