Updated Feb 3, 2022 - Politics

Cash pours into Minnesota races for state and federal offices

Illustration of a common loon sitting on a pile of cash.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Millions of dollars in political donations are already flowing to high-stakes campaigns for state and federal officess.

Why it matters: Winning a campaign requires lots of cash, and big fundraising hauls, including the ones reported in year-end filings due this week, can signal a competitive candidate or contest.

Yes, but: Outside political groups that are able to raise and spend unlimited sums can end up having an even bigger influence on a race's outcome.

Reproduced from Minnesota Campaign Finance Board; Chart: Axios Visuals

Case in point: The chart above shows the shift from candidate to independent expenditure committee spending over the last decade of state-level races here in Minnesota.

State of play: We won't know how much the independent groups spend until much closer to the election. But here's a look at some notable nuggets from the recent filings:

DFL Secretary of State Steve Simon's large haul gives him a big advantage over his GOP rivals, though Republicans Kim Crockett and Kelly Jahner-Byrne are starting the year in better fiscal shape than past GOP nominees.

  • The big picture: Secretary of state races across the country are expected to attract record sums as both parties put a focus on election issues.

A $100,000 personal loan helped GOP attorney general hopeful Dennis Smith end the year on similar footing to DFL incumbent Keith Ellison. Both ended the year with about $240,000 in the bank. Doug Wardlow, the GOP's 2018 nominee, raised nearly $270,000, but had only $25,000 cash on hand.

  • What to watch: Smith has said he'll run through the primary, regardless of who wins a crowded endorsement battle.

DFL U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, who's running for re-election in what's expected to be one of the state's most competitive districts this November, took in more than double in cash, compared to her GOP rival Tyler Kistner.

  • The two-term DFL incumbent had nearly $3 million to spend, while Kistner, who also ran in 2018, had $170,000.

As we reported last month, longtime DFL Rep. Betty McCollum's primary challenger Amane Badhasso raised more than $300,000 in the first few months of her campaign. That's more than McCollum reported for the final three months of the year.

  • McCollum, chair of a powerful Defense appropriations committee, took in $820,000 over the course of the year and still holds a cash advantage.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that McCollum's fundraising total was for the full year.

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