2nd District race: Rep. Kline raised $450K, Obermueller $132K last quarter

Republican Congressman John Kline at an Eagan Chamber of Commerce event, Aug. 8, 2013. Brett Neely/ MPR News

WASHINGTON — Some Republicans in Washington have been cautioning supporters that end of year fundraising reports may be disappointing due to last fall’s government shutdown, pushed by elements of the House and Senate GOP. But the fundraising numbers reported by 2nd District U.S. Rep. John Kline show no drop off and actually show an acceleration of the six-term Republican’s efforts ahead of a contested GOP caucus next month.

According to campaign sources, Kline brought in $450,000 in the last three months of 2013, up from $370,000 in the previous quarter. The campaign’s bank account has grown to $1.6 million, a $300,000 increase from Sept. 30.

The former Marine Corps colonel faces challenges on his left and right flanks in 2014. Most immediately, he’s being challenged for the Republican endorsement by David Gerson, who also ran against Kline in the primary last year. Gerson contends that Kline is too liberal although Kline has often been ranked as among the most conservative members of Congress.

The campaign between the two has become spirited in recent weeks with Gerson firing a campaign staffer for a series of violent and anti-military tweets. Kline’s campaign contends Gerson was aware of the staffer’s antics for months and only responded once the tweets were picked up by the media.

Gerson responded Thursday with a blog post (perhaps in anticipation of Kline’s fundraising numbers) noting that Kline “headlines a list of members who attract sizable contributions from the industries they regulate.” That charge refers to Kline’s position as chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee and the sizable donations his campaign has received from the for-profit college industry that’s overseen by the committee.

Gerson’s campaign has not yet released its fundraising totals, but they are likely to be dwarfed by Kline’s. In the third quarter, Gerson raised just $2,000.

On the left, Kline likely faces a rematch against his DFL opponent from 2012, former state Rep. Mike Obermueller. Redistricting in 2012 added DFL-friendly territory to the 2nd District and despite entering the race late and being outspent, Obermueller gave Kline his closest race in a decade, losing 46 to 54 percent.

Obermueller’s campaign raised $132,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013 from more than 1,800 donors and has $203,000 in the bank, according to a campaign spokeswoman.