WASHINGTON – Most Democrats in Minnesota’s congressional delegation saw their fundraising jump considerably in the first three months of the year even as Democrats’ fears that they will lose seats in the U.S. House and Senate in this year’s midterm elections mounted. DFL Sen. Al Franken and four of the state’s five House Democrats had their best fundraising quarter since the new Congress convened in January 2013.
Meanwhile, several highly-touted GOP challengers in the state saw their fundraising fall or remain flat even as many in the national party grow more confident about Republicans’ prospects over the next six months.
Franken’s fundraising jumped nearly $600,000 to $2.7 million while his best-funded GOP challenger, businessman Mike McFadden had his worst quarter, raising approximately $600,000, a more than 20 percent drop from previous quarters (McFadden’s campaign did not release the final number nor are the records available yet because Senate candidates do not file their reports electronically). Another GOP Senate contender, state Sen. Julianne Ortman, did not release her numbers, announcing only that she had 6,000 new donors. Franken now sits on a formidable $5.9 million war chest.
The same story was repeated throughout the state. In what’s likely to be the most closely watched U.S. House contest in the state, DFL Rep. Rick Nolan nearly doubled his quarterly fundraising haul to $265,000. Republican candidate Stewart Mills had outraised Nolan the previous two quarters, but this time saw his total remain nearly flat at $211,000. Nolan’s campaign holds $478,000 in cash, about $120,000 more than Mills.
In the other Minnesota House race that’s likely to draw some national attention, 7th District Rep. Collin Peterson’s fundraising jumped more than 30 percent from the previous quarter, raising almost $218,000. Republicans had pointed to Peterson’s previously modest fundraising efforts as a sign that Peterson was likely to retire (which didn’t happen) and that the long-serving DFLer was potentially vulnerable in a Republican-friendly district. His opponent Sen. Torrey Westrom, R- Elbow Lake, did see his fundraising increase nearly $40,000 but his $120,000 total was far short of Peterson’s.
Even Democrats who don’t likely face competitive races saw their fundraising soar. 5th District Rep. Keith Ellison’s totals rose more than 50 percent to $288,000 while neighboring 4th District Rep. Betty McCollum’s rose 55 percent to $144,000.
The best-funded Republican in the race to replace Rep. Michele Bachmann in the 6th District, Tom Emmer, saw his fundraising fall 16 percent to nearly $207,000. In the 2nd District, Republican Rep. John Kline’s fundraising fell 40 percent to $270,000 while Kline turned his attention to an endorsement battle within his party. The brightest spot for the GOP remains 3rd District Rep. Erik Paulsen, who brought in $447,000, a 52 percent increase over the previous quarter. Paulsen holds a nearly 70 to 1 cash advantage over DFL challenger Sharon Sund.
While DFL incumbents fared well, the party’s challengers in GOP districts did less well. Kline’s best-funded DFL opponent, Mike Obermueller, saw his fundraising drop nearly 40 percent to $81,000 in the most recent quarter. Jim Read in the 6th District raised $26,000, an eighth of Tom Emmer’s fundraising.
Republicans can take consolation that Kline and Paulsen hold enormous amounts of cash on hand ($1.6 million and $1.9 million, respectively); enough to scare off most deep-pocketed potential challengers in districts that were narrowly won by President Obama in 2012. And after a quarter of relative fundraising success, Democrats are surely aware that any financial edge they secure could be quickly eroded by big-spending outside groups.
Here’s my spreadsheet breakdown of the fundraising totals:
View spreadsheet in new page