Wide cash disparities mean varying tactics in gov raceby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — As financial gaps between gubernatorial campaigns widen, candidates are using different tactics to attract voters.
Campaign finance reports released Tuesday show that the race for governor could be the most expensive political race in Minnesota history.
Candidates have raised more than $9 million so far, although a lot of that came from the candidates themselves. Factor in spending by outside groups and the total pricetag for the campaign could easily top $20 million.
ENTENZA, DAYTON LEADING IN SPENDING
The two biggest spenders are also the two candidates with the most personal wealth. Democrats Matt Entenza and Mark Dayton have both tapped their deep pockets over the past year. Since they formed their campaigns in 2009, Entenza has spent a little more than $4 million of his own money on the race. Dayton has spent $3.3 million.
Before the reports were released, Entenza downplayed the amount of money he personally put into the race.
"We raised more money than any other candidate," he said. "I'm proud that we didn't take any lobbyist or PAC money."
Entenza's wife Lois Quam is a former executive at the Minnetonka-based insurance company UnitedHealth Group. She cashed out millions of dollars in stock options from the company.
Most of Entenza's spending has been for TV ads and direct mail. He spent more than $1.2 million on TV ads through July 12. Finance reports also show he's spent hundreds of thousand of dollars on direct mail and polling.
Dayton is also running TV ads, and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on polling. He even paid someone $28,000 for social media consulting, his report stated.
Dayton wouldn't say how much he intends to spend if he wins the Aug. 10 primary, but signaled it would be a significant amount. He also dismissed any criticism that he's trying to buy the election.
"It's a bizarre commentary on our political process in this country that our political support is somehow based on the number of dollars someone raises, rather than the number of people who support his or her candidacy when it counts," Dayton said.
KELLIHER PLAYING UNDERDOG
Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the DFL-endorsed candidate for governor, can't keep up with the amount of money Entenza and Dayton are spending. Kelliher raised nearly $1 million in 2010. She said she's the underdog in the campaign.
"This is kind of a David vs. two Goliaths in this race," she said. "How David won is the effective and efficient use of the resources that he had, and that's what I plan on doing."
Kelliher said she's relying less on TV ads and more on direct contact with voters. But that doesn't mean she's not spending money: She spent nearly $700 for a makeup artist for the DFL Party convention and a TV appearance. She also spent $18,000 on consulting for things like communications and data collection.
EMMER FOCUSING ON NOVEMBER
While the Democrats are doing everything they can to turn out their supporters to the polls on Aug. 10, Republican Tom Emmer is working with an eye toward November. Emmer reported raising $785,000 in 2010. He has $296,000 left in the bank.
Emmer was unavailable to comment about his fundraising. His finance report said he spent $3,000 on a fireworks display at the GOP convention, $5,800 on Emmer for Governor hockey jerseys and $2,400 on a promotion for GOP delegates.
IP CANDIDATES LAGGING BEHIND
Meanwhile, the Independence Party's endorsed candidate Tom Horner raised $190,000 in 2010. He has $27,000 left in the bank. Horner had said he needed to raise $2.5 million for his campaign to be competitive. He said he's been working to build a network of supporters.
"We are going to spend the money as it comes in to get my name out there," he said. "I can't afford to save the money until the last week of October; I'm going to spend it now."
Horner's primary opponent Rob Hahn reported raising $4,000 in 2010. His report shows that he owes more money than his campaign currently has in the bank.
- All Things Considered, 07/27/2010, 5:17 p.m.