Remember those nail-biter Republican primary races in legislative District 33?
As it turns out, the elections weren’t just competitive, they were also expensive.
Outside political groups dumped a total of $134,200 in the district that covers Orono and other communities on the north side of Lake Minnetonka to either promote two Republican incumbents or to boost two outsider GOP candidates.
That’s separate from what the candidates spent on their own races.
The Freedom Club, a group of like-minded conservative donors that back conservative candidates, spent more than $55,000 on advertising and direct mail opposing Republican Rep. Connie Doepke and supporting her opponent David Osmek, who ultimately defeated Doepke in the Aug. 14 primary. Osmek and Doepke were battling to represent District 33 in the Minnesota Senate.
Not that Doepke didn’t have her own backers. The Minnesota Business Partnership PAC, which tends to support pro-business candidates, spent $3,700 on direct mail favoring Doepke, while Pro Jobs Majority – another business focused fund – spent $23,000 on Doepke’s race.
Long-time Republican incumbent Rep. Steve Smith also lost his seat to Cindy Pugh on Aug. 14.
Again, the Freedom Club played a big role in promoting Pugh’s campaign by dropping nearly $11,000 on mail, advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts on her behalf. Meanwhile, the same group spent about $28,000 opposing Smith through advertisements and mailers.
Minnesota’s Future, another group that generally supports Republican candidates, spent about $13,500 on phone-banking and advertising favoring Pugh and opposing Smith.
Pugh won the race with a little over 70 percent of the vote.