Franken, Coleman raise similar amounts in second quarter

Franken files
DFL U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken files his paperwork at the Secretary of State's office today to place his name on the November ballot.
MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik

After officially filing his Senate candidacy with the Minnesota Secretary of State's office, Al Franken told reporters he's pleased with his second quarter fundraising. The Franken campaign took in about $2.26 million during the months of April, May and June and ended with $4.2 million in total campaign cash.

That represents a several hundred thousand dollar improvement in the Franken campaign cash position compared to the end of the first quarter.

"Doing well allows us to do our field operations, it allow us to put our people on the ground, it allows us to go on the air and we're going to be going on the air and it allow us to run a very aggressive campaign and that's what we're going to do," Franken said.

In releasing its second quarter campaign fundraising numbers, the Coleman campaign too expressed optimism about its future. Coleman took in more than $2.35 million during the quarter and ended with $7.2 million in campaign cash. That left Coleman with a $3 million more cash at the end of June than Franken.

The Coleman fundraising is a success, says campaign manager Cullen Sheehan, and the cash will fund an aggressive campaign.

"Across the board, whether it's television or radio or doing the grass roots things like knocking on doors and making phone calls. Clearly we're four months away from a major election for both the president and for U.S. Senate in this state and I think that both campaigns on all sides are going to use every medium and every opportunity to try and reach out to the voters of Minnesota."

All told Coleman has taken in almost $15.5 million; Franken more than $11.5 million.

"This is a war chest that's being assembled. It's as if we were on a ridge looking at the tanks moving into place and the candidates are moving in the artillery and moving their troops up to the firing line," according to University of Minnesota political science professor Lawrence Jacobs.

A lot of that campaign money will go toward negative campaigning, Jacobs says.

While both campaigns are claiming great fundraising success, Jacobs says Coleman's $3 million cash on hand advantage over Franken, should be a concern to Franken supporters. Franken is spending a lot of money to raise money, he says.

"Coleman is running a very professional campaign. He's raised a lot of money and he's salting away a lot of it and despite the fact that he's running against a Hollywood star who's about to raise millions and millions, when it really comes down to it, Coleman is better positioned because he's been salting away the money and he's been very stingy in terms of spending it. That's professional, smart campaign finance management. Unfortunately for Franken he seems to be bleeding money almost as fast as he's raising it."

Franken's campaign defends its fundraising costs, saying efforts now will leave it with an enormous base of relatively small dollar contributions it can return to for more money later on. Franken will need that cash come October if Coleman continues to hold such a significant cash lead to pay for TV ads, Jacobs says.