Newspaper article MinnPost.com

What the Latest Campaign Finance Numbers Say (and Don't Say) about the Minnesota Governor's Race

Newspaper article MinnPost.com

What the Latest Campaign Finance Numbers Say (and Don't Say) about the Minnesota Governor's Race

Article excerpt

The first rule of campaign fundraising is to raise more money than the other candidates. The second rule is to make it seem like whatever amount of money you raised is an advantage over the other candidates. Money first. Spin second.

Which is why, within minutes of candidates for governor posting their reports to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board last week, the media statements began to flow, as campaign staffers had been busy crafting statements about the numbers.

What numbers? The two most noticed numbers are the amount raised since the last report, and how much is left to spend.

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty raised $1.70 million for his comeback bid in a three-month period ending May 31. Since he spent a little less than $410,000, he had $1.26 million in the bank. And since Pawlenty didn't formally enter the race until April, he started the reporting period without any money, making his totals even more impressive.

His GOP rival, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, was well behind Pawlenty's pace. He raised $163,000 and spent $157,000. It was only because Johnson entered the period with $180,000 that the GOP's endorsed candidate for governor ended the period with $186,000.

For Pawlenty's team, spinning the number was an easy assignment. “Our campaign is well-positioned to take our message to every corner of Minnesota,” Pawlenty's statement said.

That is certainly true. And for that Pawlenty thanked supporters, whose help he described as “simply remarkable.”

And Johnson? It would be hard to brag about how much his campaign has raised. And it would be equally hard to assert that it doesn’t matter. So Johnson issued no statement, leaving in place previous statements that he knows he will be outspent by Pawlenty.

Among Democrats, only two of the three major candidates reported last week: U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and state Rep. …

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