The three main gubernatorial candidates have received about $2.6 million in individual contributions and have spent nearly $4.4 million since late July, according to campaign finance reports released Tuesday.
The reports detail campaign contributions and expenditures for this year. In total, the candidates raised about $8.4 million in 2010 alone, spending about $7.65 million. They collectively received about $280,000 from Political Action Committees and lobbyists.
In the 2006 governor’s race, incumbent Tim Pawlenty and his DFL opponent Mike Hatch, spent about $7.9 million.
Since July, Republican nominee Tom Emmer has spent about $1.8 million, more than any other candidate.
“Why?” Hamline University public policy professor David Schultz asked. “Damage control.”
“One of the things that Democrats and the third party groups have done very effectively is to depict Emmer as a right-wing nut,” he said, noting some of the Republican candidates’ faux pas over the summer on wages and taxing tips.
Adding to the problem, the uncompetitive Republican primary forced Emmer to buy media attention, Schultz said.
DFLer Mark Dayton trailed Emmer’s expenditures by about $215,000. Tom Horner, the Independence Party candidate, spent less than $1 million.
Emmer also raised significantly more from individual contributors — about $1.2 million to Dayton’s $730,000 and Horner’s $670,000 — in the same period.
Surprisingly, Horner’s individual contributions for the entire year trail Dayton’s by only about $30,000.
“It’s probably because Dayton hasn’t been soliciting individual contributions as heavily,” Schultz said. “Horner has made it a cornerstone of his campaign to go after individual contributions; he’s not a wealthy candidate. I think it just reflects different strategies the candidates take in terms of raising money.”
Schultz noted that candidates’ spending could correlate with their place in the polls.
The Star Tribune’s Minnesota poll, published Sunday, showed Dayton with a seven-point lead over Emmer, 41 percent to 34 percent. Horner trailed at 13 percent with 12 percent of voters undecided. The poll surveyed 999 likely voters and had a 3.9-point margin of error.
Dayton, who can tap into his family’s department store fortune, has loaned his campaign about $3.3 million in 2010, including nearly $600,000 since July.
In September and October, Dayton added a total of $500,000, with two $100,000 loans on Oct. 15 and Oct. 18.
In 2009, Dayton loaned himself $570,000, bringing his self-financing total to nearly $4 million in the past two years.
“The fact that he’s been putting so much of his own money into the race really indicates that he’s going to make sure that in the end he doesn’t lose the spending war,” Schultz said.
Dayton also received the most contributions from Political Action Committees and lobbyists, taking in about $220,000 this year.
“In part it reflects that there are a lot more organized interests probably supporting Dayton,” Schultz said. “This is just reflecting … the union support for him, and that’s not a surprise.”
Unlike Dayton, Emmer and Horner received public subsidy payments of $512,000 and $346,000, respectively, in 2010.
Currently, Horner has the least cash on hand — about $60,000.
“We would like to have more money, but are grateful for the thousands of Minnesotans who have sacrificed to help elect an independent-thinking governor on Nov. 2,” Horner campaign manager Stephen Imholte said Tuesday in a statement.
Emmer’s remaining funds — about $460,000 — are nearly double Dayton’s with one week until the election.
U of M contributors
University of Minnesota staff and students overwhelmingly support Dayton.
Roughly 45 individuals — 64 percent of all contributors affiliated with the University — donated a total of about $25,000 to the Dayton campaign in 2010.
That number jumped nearly $23,000 since July.
At that time, University contributors favored former DFL endorsee Margaret Anderson Kelliher and donated about $28,000 to her primary campaign.
Although Dayton has received fewer total contributions than Kelliher, that doesn’t mean he has fewer supporters, Schultz said. It could reflect a campaign strategy that doesn’t require outside money.
A few notable donors, like Vice President of University Services Kathy O’Brien, who donated $2,000 to Kelliher, jumped ship to support Dayton monetarily.
Stephanie Hilstrom, a 2010 University graduate, recently donated $450 to Dayton’s campaign.
“I actually was able to attend one of his fundraisers that had Joe Biden speaking, and so I donated and bought a couple tickets for that,” she said. “It was awesome. The speeches were great, everybody was really motivating, and we had great time.”
University Extension assistant professor Shelley Sherman donated $1,000 to the Dayton campaign for a different reason.
“The idea of having Emmer get in scares me, so that’s why I did,” Sherman said, adding that her family has always contributed to political campaigns.
She also supports Dayton’s “progressive politics.”
Tom Horner, who received about $7,000 in contributions from 17 contributors, doubled Emmer’s $3,500 from University members.
The Republican candidate likely received less support from the University because his budget plan calls for $300 million in cuts to higher education over the next two years, Schultz said.
Horner could have gained support for his plans to increase research funding for Minnesota’s colleges by $30 million.
“As University spokesperson,” U News Service Director Dan Wolter said, “I have no comment.”
“But, as an individual, I’ll say Tom Horner is a friend of mine … I respect his leadership skills, his centrist views and wanted to show my support ¬–– as an individual,” said Wolter, who donated $575 to Horner’s campaign.
“Of course, my views, political or otherwise, do not represent those of the University of Minnesota.”
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