Feb 2, 2024 - Politics

Cash flows into competitive Minnesota congressional races

Select Minnesota congressional candidates' cash on hand
Data: Federal Elections Commission. Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Millions of dollars in political donations are already flowing into 2024 congressional races in the Twin Cities.

Why it matters: Campaigns are expensive. That makes fundraising figures a proxy for the strength of a candidate and the competitiveness of a race.

The big picture: Candidates in three contested districts in the Twin Cities metro area raised a collective $4.8 million in the final three months of 2023, reports filed this week with the Federal Elections Commission show.

State of play: Just one of the state's eight congressional seats — the suburban 2nd Congressional District, now represented by DFL Rep. Angie Craig — is expected to be seriously in play this year.

  • But a contested primary for U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and a DFL battle over an open seat in the western suburbs are also attracting loads of cash.

By the numbers: Craig, who is running for a fourth term in the south metro swing district, raised nearly $800,000 during Q4 and ended the year with the biggest war chest of the metro-area candidates: $2.6 million.

  • On the GOP side, former federal prosecutor Joe Teirab outraised his rival for the Republican nomination. Teirab brought in $280,000 and ended the year with about $269,000 in the bank, compared to Tayler Rahm's $161,000 in contributions and ending balance of $75,000.

Meanwhile, Omar, who posted a record fundraising haul last quarter, has a cash advantage of more than $1 million over challengers in the Minneapolis-based 5th District.

  • Repeat DFL rival Don Samuels raised $347,000 and ended the year with a similar amount in the bank. A GOP candidate reported about $60,000 cash on hand.

And in the suburban 3rd District, DFL state Sen. Kelly Morrison outraised DFL opponent Ron Harris by a 4-to-1 margin.

  • She's got more than $300,000 in the bank for her campaign to succeed U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, who opted to run for president instead of seeking another House term. Harris has about $22,000, fueled by a personal loan.

Of note: Candidates who filed fundraising paperwork after Jan.1, such as Quentin Wittrock, a Republican who announced a bid for the 3rd last month, have yet to report any donations.

Reality check: In some contested primary races, the money won't matter if you can't land your party's endorsement.

  • In the 2nd District, for example, both Republican candidates have pledged to drop out if they can't secure the support of the grassroots GOP delegates later this spring.

Zoom in: It's not just federal races swimming in cash. State-level campaign committees reported raising seven figures to spend on legislative races that will determine whether the DFL retains control of the state House — and the trifecta.

  • The House DFL's committee raised $2 million in 2023, ending the year with $1.23 million. House Republicans took in $1.17 million and had $696,000 in the bank.
  • MPR News' Capitol View has the top lines from more state campaign accounts, including the funds for the Senate and Gov. Tim Walz.

What we're watching: While candidate fundraising matters, deep-pocketed donors can — and will — raise and spend even larger sums via independent political committees.

  • That spending, which typically comes closer to the election, could tip the scales in tight races.

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