Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee both triumphed just south of the Minnesota border, but their Minnesota campaigns have so far displayed sharply contrasting profiles.
First, there's money.
Huckabee received just $6,400 in itemized campaign contributions from Minnesotans through September, a figure more in line with a run for a state legislature than for the White House.
Obama, who came to Minneapolis for a rally in June, has raised $362,000 in itemized campaign contributions from state residents through September, a show of strength that could help him buy television ads to reach voters.
And while there was no showing Friday in Minnesota from Huckabee's organization, Obama's campaign wasted no time flexing its muscles.
At a rally at the State Office Building, his supporters announced a list of politicians and financial backers who will spearhead his Minnesota campaign before the Feb. 5 precinct caucuses.
They include two members of Congress, 11 state representatives, the mayor of Minneapolis and the mayor-elect of Duluth. The leadership committee includes Sam and Sylvia Kaplan, major Democratic activists and campaign contributors.
Other Minnesotans who have given to Obama include U.S. Senate candidate Mike Ciresi and John Cowles, the former CEO of a parent company of the Star Tribune.
Obama received at least 70 contributions from individual Minnesotans who gave the maximum of $2,300.
By contrast, Huckabee has received only 15 itemized contributions of any amount from individual Minnesotans, none greater than $1,000.
"We'll see if message continues to trump money," said supporter Duane Benson, a former Minnesota Senate minority leader.
Huckabee's team is building
While Huckabee's surge in the polls since September and his Iowa victory this week are likely to attract more donors, his campaign is still more theory than reality in Minnesota.
Benson said that when he tried to contact Huckabee's people last year to help out, he never heard back.
"I just think this has come in a rush and they're trying to develop the ability to reach out," Benson said.
Late Friday, the nucleus of a Minnesota structure for Huckabee was starting to gel.
"We're in the planning process," said Mark Vukelich, who is coordinating the effort and expects to make a formal announcement Monday. "It's still really in the midst of being put together."
Benson said Huckabee will need help in Minnesota from religious conservatives. They were a strong force behind his Iowa victory, but might be less of a factor in the Minnesota Republican Party.
Still, Huckabee's Iowa triumph provides him with priceless publicity.
Winning there will give him "a bit of a pedigree" that will make it easier for him to attract audiences along the campaign trail, Benson said.
Huckabee's best strategy in Minnesota will be to appeal to "the guy next door," because he comes off as affable and self-effacing -- the qualities credited with helping him in Iowa, Benson said.
"I think he is in as good a shape as anyone, and I'd give him even odds," he said of Huckabee's chances in the Minnesota caucuses on Feb. 5. "It's going to be a three-, four- [or] five-placed split, so the threshold for being successful drops."
Obama to open more offices
Neither Huckabee nor Obama have committed to appearing in Minnesota before Feb. 5, also known as "Super Tuesday," when 22 states will have caucuses or primaries.
The Minnesota caucuses will be relatively backwater compared to contests in more populous states.
At the quickly organized rally and press briefing at the State Office Building, about 20 well-chosen supporters held signs and cheered speakers extolling the strengths and prospects of the winner of Iowa's Democratic caucus.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum told the group that Obama's victory gives him a head start on Super Tuesday. She boasted that he had better organization than other candidates.
"Are we fired up? Ready to go?" McCollum asked supporters, who yelled back that indeed they are.
Also present was U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and, in a manner of speaking, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who spoke by speakerphone while returning from Iowa.
Obama's campaign has an office in St. Paul and plans to open more in the next couple of weeks in Minneapolis, Duluth, Rochester and Fargo-Moorhead.
It is organizing 40 caucus training sessions around the state -- some of them in Spanish -- and holding a "Caucus Kick-Off" at Bar Abilene today in Minneapolis to solicit commitments from volunteers.
Pat Doyle • 651-222-1210