Dayton, allies outspent GOP to win governor's race

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Democrat Mark Dayton and his allies spent significantly more than Republican Tom Emmer and his allies to win the race for Minnesota governor.

Alliance for a Better Minnesota, a group working to elect Dayton, spent $5.7 million in the race, helped by big contributions from labor unions and Dayton's family. Most of Alliance's money was spent on ads criticizing Emmer.

Labor unions spent more than $2.2 million to help elect Dayton, with money coming in both before the election and afterward to help the recount effort. The Democratic Governor's Association spent $1 million, and Dayton's family and his ex-wife gave more than $900,000.

Alliance for a Better Minnesota outspent the two groups backing Emmer -- MN Forward and Minnesota's Future. Minnesota's Future, funded mostly by the Republican Governor's Association, spent $1.4 million on the race. MN Forward, who received contributions from businesses like Target and Best Buy, spent nearly $1.8 million.

Dayton won the election by only about 9,000 votes, prompting a recount. Emmer conceded a month after the election, after it became clear he wouldn't be able to come up with enough votes in the recount.

Dayton's campaign also outspent Emmer's. Dayton spent $5.3 million in 2009 and 2010, helped by a $3.9 million in loans to himself. Emmer spent $2.8 million.

That compares to $4.6 million spent in a two-year period by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and $2.8 million spent by DFLer Mike Hatch in the 2006 governor's race.

Part of the reason for Dayton's spending was a competitive DFL primary that included a wealthy opponent. Former state Rep. Matt Entenza spent $5.2 million of his own money on his campaign, which spent more than $6 million overall on just the DFL primary.

A big difference in the rules for the 2010 fundraising race was corporations' ability to spend to influence elections. But according to the campaign finance records released Tuesday, corporate money played a smaller role than labor unions and individuals in the overall money game.

On the DFL side, companies including Kwik Trip, Anheuser-Busch, Pfizer and SuperValu gave a total of $88,000 to groups helping to elect Dayton and support him during the recount. MN Forward received the most in corporate contributions on the GOP side -- at least $1.5 million, with big gifts from companies like Target, Best Buy and Hubbard Broadcasting.