A quick look at today’s campaign fundraising reports show that Democrats in the Minnesota House and Senate are playing lots of defense in the 2010 election. The DFL Party’s independent expenditures show that they’re protecting a handful of seats that mostly lie in the suburbs and the exurbs. It appears that House and Senate races in Woodbury and Eagan are the most competitive.
The race that’s attracted the most party money through October 18th is House District 56B where DFL Rep. Marsha Swails is facing a tough challenge from Republican Andrea Kieffer. The DFL House Caucus, the House Republican Caucus and the Minnesota Republican Party have spent $114,579 in that district on direct mail and TV advertising.
It’s not the only race to watch in the eastern suburbs. DFL Rep. Julie Bunn of Lake Elmo is facing a challenge from Kathleen Lohmer. The race is also close to hitting the $100,000 mark. DFL Rep. DFL Sen. Kathy Saltzman is facing a challenge from newspaper publisher Ted Lillie. Senate Democrats have spent $65,697 to help reelect Saltzman. Republicans in the Senate didn’t spent much money on direct mail and TV before the October 18th deadline but I’m told they are active in several districts.
The Eagan races are also a battleground. In House District 38A, DFL Rep. Sandra Masin is locked in a tough battler with Republican Diane Anderson. The House Democrats and the HRCC are spending $50,000 each on that race. The other half of the district is also being bombarded with campaign literature. $95,972 has been spent by the HRCC, the MNGOP and the House DFL Caucus. DFL Rep. Mike Obermueller is facing a challenge from Republican Doug Wardlow, son of former GOP Rep. Lynn Wardlow.
Senate District 38 is also getting plenty of attention. DFL Sen. Jim Carlson is facing a challenge from Republican Ted Daley. Senate Democrats have spent $94,843 to help Carlson get elected.
There are also a few races to watch in rural Minnesota. In Bemidji, DFL Rep. John Persell is facing a challenge from Richard Lehmann. The parties have spent $94,589 on that race.
In the district just south of Lake Mille Lacs, DFL Rep. Gail Kulick Jackson is facing a challenge from former GOP Rep. Sondra Erickson. $93,649 is being spent on that race.
Since the Senate GOP didn’t start spending on independent expenditures at the fundraising deadline, it’s difficult to see which seats they consider competitive. But it’s pretty easy to gauge looking at where the Senate DFL is spending. DFL Sen. Lisa Fobbe is facing a stiff challenge from Republican David Brown. Senate Democrats have spent $86,000 on that race alone.
Two interesting tidbits. It doesn’t appear Senate Democrats are spending to defend the seats held by DFL Sen. Steve Murphy of Red Wing or DFL Sen. Jim Vickerman of Tracey. It appears the caucus may decide to spend its money elsewhere. The Senate DFL Caucus is also spending a small portion of money in the open seat being vacated by DFL Sen. Tarryl Clark. The campaign finance reports shows just $16,945 spent on behalf of the Democrat running in that district. That could obviously change between October 18th and Election Day.
On the House side, Democrats are looking to pick up three seats. Two of them are open. The first is being vacated by GOP Rep. Laura Brod. House Democrats have spent $31,222 to win that seat. DFLers are also bullish on the seat being vacated by GOP Rep. Doug Magnus, who looks like he’ll win Vickerman’s Senate sat. Former DFL House Majority Leader Ted Winter is making another run for the House. House Demodrats are spending $39,000 there. The other seat is held by GOP Rep. Keith Downey. House Republicans have spent $22,800 in TV ads to help Downey win reelection. Democrats have spent $31,000 on direct mail in the district.
One race that wasn’t on my radar until today is DFL Rep. Andy Welti’s seat and it’s mostly because House Democrats are spending a lot of money there. They spent $50,729 working to reelect Welti, of Rochester. The MNGOP spent $21,511 on direct mail attacking Welti.
The other race to watch is a Senate race in Rochester. The DFL Senate Caucus spent $64,516 on TV and direct mail to help get DFL Sen. Lynch reelected.
There are a few other races to watch including House District 1A (the far northwestern corner of the state that features DFL Rep. Dave Olin vs. Republican Dan Fabian) and House District 53A (the Shoreview district that features the showdown between DFL Rep. Paul Gardner and Republican Linda Runbeck).
Side note: The House DFL Caucus and The Senate DFL Caucus gave direct contributions to the State DFL Party which then paid for the independent expenditures. You can read the The Minnesota DFL Party report here.
It appears that the Minnesota Republican Party is using funds raised by the Freedom Club’s State PAC for their efforts to win the Minnesota House. The Freedom Club State PAC’s report shows a $408,000 transfer to the MNGOP. Officials with the Freedom Club have said they are working to elect Republicans in the House.