Cash Rules Everything Around Me (The Politicians Burden) (
by Tony Petrangelo
Aug 29, 2012, 7:00 AM

Minnesota Senate Fundraising Totals

Summer is almost over and the primaries are in the books, now comes the time when school children’s minds begin to turn to visions of general elections dancing in their heads.

Or something…

The general election looms is what I’m getting at, just over two months away. At some point this month, the laterish point, I will begin rolling out my patented and totally unique Legislative race ratings.

In a slow build up to that eventuality, this post will go over fundraising numbers for the Minnesota Senate. These numbers came out almost a month ago now and have been discussed elsewhere, so I’m a little late to the party.

And by late I mean everyone has left and the host is doing dishes in the kitchen. But there’s still beer in the keg and I’ve got a brand new plastic cup!

The Top Ten

When I published the Senate hPVI‘s, I listed the ten most viable pickups, according to hPVI, for the DFL, they were:

Candidate (Senate district | hPVI)
Jermey Miller (28 | D+1)
John Carlson (5 | EVEN)
April King (42 | EVEN)
Ted Daley (51 | R+1)
Keith Downey (49 | R+2)
John Pederson (14 | R+2)
Ted Lillie (53 | R+3)
Pam Wolf (37 | R+3)
Joe Gimse (17 | R+4)
Benjamin Kruse (36 | R+4)

I’m going to look at the fundraising in those races specifically as it concerns any analysis, however, there is a spreadsheet at the bottom of this post that has all the numbers for all the candidates, sans analysis.


Looking at just hPVI, this is the DFL’s best shot at a pick-up, but Jeremy Miller is doing quite well on the fundraising front, besting his DFL challenger, Jack Krage, in total money raised as well as individual contributions.

As a percentage of the individual contributions raised between the two of them, Miller at about 60%. This is neither a good number for Miller nor a bad one, and even though this rates as a tough district for a Republican, he’s the kind of Republican who can be competitive and his fundraising only supports that.


This is pretty much the marque race of the Senate, pitting two incumbents, Tom Saxhaug and John Carlson, against one another in a swingy district that is made up of about half of each of the incumbents former districts.

And their fundraising is about dead even too. Carlson has raised a little more in individual contributions and Saxhaug a little more overall, but the numbers are not much different.

The big difference though is in the amount of money each candidate has spent so far, with Saxhaug having spent more than twice as much as Carlson, $18,295.34 to $7,548.85.

The majority of that money was spent on advertising; $8,610 on lit pieces and $2,630.64 on lawn signs, which represents pretty much the entire difference in their spending. I would suspect the lions share of that money went to introducing himself to his new district.


This is an orphan district so to speak, a district that was drawn without an incumbent within it’s borders. Whereas Senate district five has the maximum amount of incumbents, Senate district 42 has the minimum amount.

This race pits current representative Bev Scalze against April King. Their fundraising reports provide quite the contrast; King has raised twice as much as Scalze in individual contributions, while Scalze has raised more than twice as much overall.

The vast majority of Scalze’s fundraising, $15,684.98, comes from her house campaign committee. Absent that they’ve raised about the same in total contributions.

The interesting thing is that Bev Scalze, accoriding to her campaign finance report has spent no money so far. Zero. This despite the fact that she’s running for Senate, instead of house, and in a new district.

It’s either a mistake of reporting, or a mistake of campaigning, but it’s a mistake nonetheless.


This is a rematch of 2010, pitting the now incumbent Senator Ted Daley against the former incumbent Jim Carlson for what is essentially the same district, Eagan.

Carlson has raised slightly more in individual contributions than Daley, but Daley has raised significantly more overall, the lions share of which comes from PAC contributions.

Daley didn’t win by much in 2010 and this looks like it will probably be a close race in 2012 as well.


This is where the real fundraising arms race is taking place, with both of the candidates, Keith Downey and Melisa Franzen, raising more in individual contributions than all but a few Senate candidates have raised overall.

Franzen though has raised more than a little bit more than Downey in that category, $39,067.38 – $34,307.89, while Downey has raised significantly more overall, $65,897.90 – $51,945.52.

This is Edina, and they don’t call ’em Cake Eaters for nothing, so it’s not really surprising that this race laps the field in fundraising. Given the hit pieces on Franzen that the Minnesota GOP has already started sending out though, you have to think that they are a little worried about her campaigning chops.


This is a race that I want to be competitive, that probably should be competitive, but that the fundraising numbers just don’t look that good for the challenger, Jerry McCarter. Northwestern College Grad, John Peterson has raised almost 75% of the individual contributions between the two candidates.

Peterson barely won in 2010, in pretty much the same district, Tarryl Clark’s old district. At this point though, it doesn’t look that competitive.


Susan Kent has raised close to twice as much as incumbent Ted Lillie in individual contributions, and slightly more overall, both of which are, of course, good signs.

This is sort of a new district for Ted Lillie, only not really. His old residence got redistricted into the same district as the retiring Ray Vanderveer, but the vast majority of his former constituents got drawn into this district.

So a move made sense, from a purely political perspective, although his fundraising so far isn’t all that impressive.


Former legislator Alice Johnson, who is challenging incumbent Senator Pam Wolf, is killing it so far, raising more than twice as much in individual contributions and overall contributions.

And while Johnson has spent more she also has more than three times as much in the bank.


Incumbent Senator Joe Gimse has raised more then four times the individual contributions as Incumbent Senator Lyle Koenen and almost the same proportion overall.

Koenen also had weaker fundraising than his primary opponent, Larry Rice, and yet prevailed, the DFL endorsement likely playing a part in that race though.

Additionally, the general election will be Koenen’s fourth race this year, as he ran for the special election for his current Senate seat and had to go through a primary to get to that general.

Whether all those races will benefit him though is yet to be seen, as it certainly hasn’t benefited his fundraising.


In this race freshman Senator Benjamin Kruse faces challenger John Hoffman who has run circles around him in the fundraising department, taking in more than twice as much in individual contributions and more than four times as much in overall contributions.

Not only that, but Hoffman has spent more than 12(!) times as much on his campaign so far, most of which went to lit and lawn signs, primarily lit.

It’s never a good sign when an incumbent gets out-raised to this degree, and although the hPVI is two points worse, this race seems like a better pickup opportunity than St. Cloud at this point.

Candidates for all of the SDs

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