Independent and party organizations have spent $3.7 million so far in this year's Minnesota governor's race, with most of it coming from organizations that support DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's re-election.
It would take a significant acceleration for the groups, which are not controlled by candidates, to reach the spending levels set in 2010.
Four years ago, with no incumbent in the governor's race, outside groups spent at least $11 million by the end of the election, according to a Star Tribune analysis of campaign finance figures.
This year, Dayton is running against Republican Jeff Johnson. Johnson faced a competitive but low-dollar four-way primary in August. That primary, however, attracted little outside cash.
Of the $3.7 million, at least $2.4 million has come from the DFL Party, the Democrat-supporting Alliance for a Better Minnesota and union groups.
The lack of spending among outside groups appears similar in Minnesota House races, according to filings made public this week.
So far, those PACs and parties have spent just under $1 million to influence who controls the House next year. Nearly half of that has been ponied up by the DFL Party and the DFL House campaign arm.
In addition, the Freedom Club has run about $900,000 worth of television ads that trash Dayton and the DFL Legislature. The Star Tribune included that figure in spending on the governor's race.
When the House was last up for election in 2012, PACs and parties spent a little more than $4 million to influence those contests.
Additionally, they spent about $6.7 million to influence the control of the Minnesota Senate. Senate seats will not be on the ballot until 2016.
The outside groups include political action committees, parties and others that must register with the state. That does not include cash spent by political nonprofits, which don't need to report their spending to the Minnesota campaign finance agency. Some nonprofits have already flooded House districts with political mailings.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Twitter: @RachelSB