CHART: U.S. House delegation files fundraising reports

WASHINGTON – The first quarter of a new election cycle is not typically a big time for many U.S. House incumbents. After all, aren’t they supposed to be legislating?

And the first quarter figures filed ahead of last night’s Federal Election Commission deadline by members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation show far less emphasis on fundraising than in the frantic months ahead of last November’s election. U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s campaign reported last week that it had raised nearly $2 million ahead of his re-election bid next year.

There’s not a lot to report here. As is typical, the delegation’s Republicans raised significantly more than the Democrats did. The Democrats all have fairly threadbare war chests that they’ll concentrate on refilling over the next year.

Here’s a chart of where Minnesota’s eight U.S. House members’ campaigns stand as of March 31:

The biggest bit of news here is that Republican Michele Bachmann’s fundraising juggernaut has slowed slightly. Her campaign brought in a net $678,000, far more than anyone else in the delegation and more than most House incumbents.

Still, she raised $1 million more at this point two years ago, though that fundraising came at a time when Bachmann was raising her profile for what was ultimately an unsuccessful bid for the GOP presidential nomination. Also worth noting is that Bachmann spent more than she raised, so her net cash position actually fell from $2 million to $1.8 million.

Jim Graves, a Democrat who hopes to challenge Bachmann again next year, reported negligible fundraising in the first quarter.

Congressional Democrats and their allied outside groups are hoping to make Republican John Kline sweat next year, because they believe his redrawn 2nd District could be vulnerable to a takeover. But Kline, who chairs the House Education and Workforce Committee, begins with a $750,000 head start in his campaign account.

Money is obviously not everything: former Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack had a financial edge over his DFL challenger Rick Nolan but still lost his race in the 8th District last year.

The last newsworthy nugget here is that DFL U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson is fundraising. Republicans have once again targeted his GOP-friendly seat, and some Democrats had feared that Peterson, who’s served in Congress since 1991, might retire. So far, Peterson’s fundraising is in line with his past performance and doesn’t give any indication that he might step down.