The total spent on the Minnesota governor's race ballooned to $25 million, largely because two candidates infused the campaign with millions in personal wealth, while independent entities tapped unions, corporations and Washington groups to pay for a litany of television ads, most of them negative.

The top spender? According to campaign finance reports released Tuesday, Matt Entenza, who finished third in the DFL primary, doled out $5.7 million over two years -- more than $5 million of it from his own pocket. Much of it went to advertising.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton lent his campaign about $4 million and spent $5.3 million before Election Day. He raised another $1.8 million for the December recount; most of that came from unions. Dayton raised more during the recount than he did during his entire campaign.

Republican candidate Tom Emmer, meanwhile, raised and spent about $2.9 million over his two-year campaign.

The Minnesota Republican Party declined to release the amount raised or spent supporting Emmer's recount effort. The party funded the operation through a specially created corporation -- Count Them All Properly Inc. -- that GOP spokesman Mark Drake said is not required to disclose its financial details.

Independent groups on both sides of the aisle proved to be a major financial force.

Alliance for a Better Minnesota, a group supported by unions and many members of the Dayton family, spent about $5.7 million over the course of the campaign. Most of that fueled a torrent of ads critical of Emmer.

Two other groups, Minnesota's Future and MN Forward, spent a combined $3 million, primarily on television ads that either attacked Dayton or supported Emmer. MN Forward derived much of its money from corporations.

Kathryn Pearson, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota, said the influx of outside group spending could present a dilemma for future candidates in managing their messages, because candidates and independent groups are barred from collaborating.

"It's a challenge for candidates to control their message in the current environment," Pearson said.

"And I think we're just going to see more of this in the next cycle."

Where are they now?

As Dayton settles into the governor's office, his two opponents are searching for permanent positions of their own.

Emmer recently announced that he is running to be a Republican National Committeeman, chosen by members of the Minnesota GOP. That person serves on the GOP's State Executive Committee and represents Minnesota on the national committee and at the Republican National Convention.

Former campaign spokesman Chris Van Guilder said Emmer also has been guest hosting on KTLK-FM radio, typically on Friday mornings.

Emmer could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Independence Party candidate Tom Horner, who raised and spent about $1.3 million overall, said Tuesday that he has spent time since the campaign "enjoying life," teaching, consulting and writing opinion pieces.

He added that he is considering "a couple of full-time opportunities out there that people have talked to me about, some more interesting than others."

Eric Roper • 651-222-1210