Minnesota Democrats have raised more, spent more and have more cash going into the final weeks of the campaign than their Republican counterparts.
The three main DFL Party committees and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton have raised more than $10 million, spent $7 million and have $4.3 million in the bank. The three Republican Party organizations and gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson have raised $4.2 million, spent $3.7 million and have just under $2 million banked, according to fundraising reports released Wednesday.
The lopsided dollar figures, which were foreshadowed Tuesday by reports on fundraising by Dayton and Johnson, extend into the other constitutional campaigns and independent spending. They come at a time when the Republicans are hoping to snatch the Minnesota House and the governor's residence from Democratic control.
State Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey, acknowledged the cash challenge but said Republicans will make up for it in other ways.
"In a situation where you're underfunded, you have to be better," he said. Downey has whittled down the party's once massive debt since taking over, but the party still owes just a little under $500,000.
One bright spot for Republicans: In fundraising, Johnson actually surpassed Dayton since July.
But even that advantage may soon be tested. Dayton's campaign on Wednesday sent out urgent solicitations, using Johnson's fundraising as the hook. In an e-mail titled "We're behind," the Dayton campaign shared what they called a "Breaking finance update."
"The campaigns just released their fundraising reports and our opponent outraised us!" the appeal said. "We have to fight back."
Democrats have more finance tools to levy in that fight.
Democratic candidates and party groups have received a large portion of their cash from unions in recent elections, which has given them a fundraising boost that Republicans have been unable to match.
"The big difference-maker is unions," Downey said.
DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said that unions have been helpful, but that the real power has been Minnesotans showing they believe in the DFL candidates and message.
Martin also said that DFLers have poured major effort into creating a fundraising force that is "much more aggressive and much more professionalized."
Reports show that the DFL Party already has laid out cash for much of a $1 million ad buy to go after Johnson and promote Dayton. Both the DFL Party and the DFL House Caucus have begun spending to send mail and other campaign messages into contested House districts.
The DFL had already spent $3.5 million this year, while the caucus has spent nearly $1.8 million. Transfers to the DFL Party account for some of the DFL House's fundraising and the DFL Party's fundraising cash.
The Republican Party has yet to spend significant cash on mailings or TV ads. Johnson released his first TV ad on Wednesday.
Independent groups, who spend money not controlled by candidates or parties, may not be able to help make up that gap.
Those nonaligned groups have already raised more than $41 million among them since January of last year.
The seven dozen largest independent groups have given about $2 million to candidates, contributed $10 million to parties and contributed about $6.5 million to other PACS. In total, they have already spent $33 million.
The figures show that those groups have ramped up their spending since July.
Most of the big money is on the Democratic side of the aisle.
Among the top two dozen independent groups, those that lean toward Democrats or are wholly supportive of DFLers have raised nearly $13 million and spent more than $2 million on candidates. The Republican-supporting groups have raised $3.7 million and spent less than $600,000.
The largest fundraisers by far are the Democratic Alliance for a Better Minnesota and Education Minnesota, the teachers' union. Education Minnesota alone has raised $2.6 million, some of which it has transferred to the Alliance and DFL Party groups.
The publicly available reports do not include all the spending on Minnesota elections. Nonprofits need not report the money they spend on campaigns to the Minnesota campaign financing agency.
The Republican-supporting Minnesota Action Network, associated with former Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, already has begun flooding House districts with mailings.
Although the public reports show far more spending from Democrats on House races than Republicans, Ben Golnik, chairman of the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, said he expects it to even up.
"I think a large majority of the outside money will be raised and spent in the next six weeks," said Golnik, a former Republican Party executive director.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Twitter: @RachelSB