A big week is coming up in the governor’s race, as campaigns will report what money they raised and spent in 2017 — a key signal of which candidates are exciting the passions of donors large and small.
Candidates with significant fundraising hauls have already sent out news releases: U.S. Rep. Tim Walz reported raising $1.1 million during his nine months in the race last year, with nearly $500,000 cash on hand. Former St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman reported raising $800,000, though it’s not clear how much of that was raised in 2017 or how much cash he’s sitting on.
This week’s reports will give us more detail about where these two DFL heavyweights are getting their money and where they’re spending it.
A glitch on the state’s campaign finance website allowed us a peek at another DFL candidate: Rebecca Otto for governor showed total donations of $320,000 and expenditures of $158,000, an ending cash balance of $182,000 and $23,000 in unpaid bills. State Rep. Tina Liebling took in $101,000 and spent $80,000.
Just as intriguing will be the fundraising numbers for Republican candidates to be released this week. State Rep. Matt Dean was clearly having a rough go of it before he dropped out of the race last week, endorsing Jeff Johnson, the GOP’s 2014 nominee.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is thought to be mulling a return to Minnesota politics, will be watching. If the Republicans in the race, including Johnson as well as Keith Downey and Mary Giuliani Stephens, haven’t raised respectable sums, Pawlenty would be well-positioned to jump in the race and use his statewide name recognition to secure the GOP nomination.
But money isn’t everything.
The actual voting begins Feb. 6, when Minnesotans attending their precinct caucuses will have a chance to cast a ballot in a nonbinding straw poll. Johnson finished a distant third in 2014 and was the eventual nominee, so be wary of putting too much stock in the outcome.
Still, the best campaigns will have good caucus organizations, with volunteers ready to be elected delegates and hopefully make it through the long slog to the state conventions in June.
Taken together, these fundraising figures, caucus straw poll results and evidence of caucus organization should give us a much clearer picture of the governor’s race — all in the next 10 days.