Bachmann continues to lead Minnesota congressional candidates in fundraising

Michele Bachmann
US Rep. Michele Bachmann speaks during The Family Research Council Action Values Voter Summit on Sept. 14, 2012 at a hotel in Washington, D.C. No other congressional candidate in Minnesota has raised a sum comparable to Michelle Bachmann, whose fundraising haul likely exceeds the combined amount raised by all of the major party candidates in the other eight U.S. Senate and House races in the state.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Incumbents and challengers in Minnesota are reporting fundraising numbers ahead of the final weeks of campaigning.

Michele Bachmann's re-election campaign raised more than $4.5 million in the three months ending Sept. 30, more evidence that the three-term Republican Congresswoman remains among the most prolific fundraisers in Congress.

No other congressional candidate in Minnesota has raised a comparable sum. In fact, Bachmann's fundraising haul likely exceeds the combined amount raised by all of the major party candidates in the other eight U.S. Senate and House races in the state.

According to a press release from the Bachmann campaign, the average donation to Bachmann was $45, a sign that Bachmann's Internet-driven fundraising base of small donors continues to provide the majority of her campaign's cash.

While capable of raising enormous sums of money, Bachmann's fundraising apparatus is expensive to maintain. As MPR News reported last month, Bachmann's campaign has spent on average about 16 cents of every dollar raised on bringing in more cash.

Bachmann's fundraising this quarter is her biggest haul this election cycle, but in 2010 she actually raised even more, about $5 million, at the same point in her campaign.

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According to campaign manager Chase Kroll, Bachmann's campaign had $3.5 million in the bank on Sept. 30, an increase of $1.5 million since her last fundraising report on July 25. "I am humbled by the enormous outpouring of grassroots support for my campaign," Bachmann said in a statement released Friday.


Jim Graves news conference
Democrat Jim Graves, in a file photo from the announcement of his campaign in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District seat April 10, 2012 in St. Cloud. As of Monday afternoon, Graves had not revealed his own fundraising totals, which are due by midnight
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Her opponent, hotel owner Jim Graves, sought to cast Bachmann's enormous fundraising totals as a sign that she is out of touch with the 6th District, especially since her unsuccessful bid for the GOP presidential nomination ended in January.

"These fundraising figures are further proof Rep. Bachmann's misguided priorities," campaign manager Adam Graves said in a statement. "But no amount of money will cover up her six years of putting her own interests above those of the people she is supposed to serve."

As of Monday afternoon, Graves had not revealed his own fundraising totals, which are due by midnight although the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced that it is stepping up support for Graves, a sign his fundraising has increased.

The DCCC added Minnesota's 6th District to its "Red to Blue" list of competitive U.S. House races which means Graves will get additional logistical and fundraising support and could also air ads against Bachmann.

Polling paid for by the Graves campaign suggests a tight race. Still, Graves faces an uphill battle as the 6th District is the biggest stronghold for Minnesota Republicans and became more conservative after redistricting earlier this year.

Graves is also following a well-worn path that previous Bachmann competitors have trod. Former state Sen. Tarryl Clark and Elwyn Tinkelberg also joined the DCCC "Red to Blue" program for their unsuccessful tries against Bachmann.


Cravaack, Nolan
Rep. Chip Cravaack, left, R-Dist. 8, speaks during a debate against Democratic challenger Rick Nolan on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 at the Duluth Playhouse in Duluth, Minn.
Derek Montgomery for MPR

In the hotly contested 8th District race in northeastern Minnesota, both incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack and his DFL opponent Rick Nolan each raised slightly less than $500,000 in the third quarter.

Cravaack, who is in his first term, brought in more than $471,000 but was edged out by Nolan, who served three terms in the U.S. House in the 1970s and early 1980s. Nolan brought in $484,000.

The 8th District seat is among one of the most fiercely-contested in the country and spending by both parties and outside groups has dwarfed the outlays made by the candidates' campaigns.

According to the Wesleyan Media Project, the 8th District was the fifth most-expensive House race in the country between Sept. 9 and Sept. 30 with more than $1.7 million spent on political ads.

Since entering Congress in January 2011, Cravaack has raised more than $1.9 million and still has more than $1.1 million in the bank for the final weeks of the campaign. Nolan's campaign has $464,000 cash on hand.


Klobuchar, left, and Bills debate in Duluth
Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar debates against state Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012 at the Duluth Playhouse in Duluth, Minn.
Derek Montgomery for MPR

In the only statewide office up for grabs this fall, Amy Klobuchar likely continues to hold a commanding financial advantage. Klobuchar's Senate re-election campaign raised $800,000 in the three months ending Sept. 30 and she enters the final stretch of the fall campaign with more than $4.8 million on hand.

Her Republican challenger, State Rep. Kurt Bills, has not yet released his fundraising totals but likely trails Klobuchar by a considerable margin. As of late July, the Bills campaign had less than $6,000 in the bank.

Since her election in 2006, Klobuchar has raised almost $8.6 million.

As Klobuchar's seat is considered safe by many political handicappers, Klobuchar's campaign is not drawing the large sums other U.S. Senate races are. For example, Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in Missouri raised $5.8 million in the most recent quarter.

In addition to campaigning in Minnesota, Klobuchar has been raising money for other Democratic Senate candidates including McCaskill and Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin.


John Kline
District 2 Republican Congressman John Kline campaigns during the Strawberry Festival in Cottage Grove, Minn., Saturday June 16, 2012.
MPR photo/Mark Zdechlik

In the 2nd District, Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline raised more $386,000 in the third quarter and sits on a $1.4 million war chest, according to Kline spokesman Troy Young. His DFL challenger, Mike Obermueller, brought in more than $331,000 and has $370,000 cash on hand.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put Obermueller on its "Red to Blue" list of targeted races, suggesting that Kline was vulnerable in his newly redrawn district. However, the DCCC has not yet spent any money airing ads against Kline even though the group has been very active in the highly-contested 8th District race.

In the 3rd District, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen raised more than $650,000 in the three months ending Sept. 30th.

Mike Obermueller
DFL congressional candidate Mike Obermueller, who served in the Minnesota Legislature for one term, says John Kline's support for GOP proposals to revamp Medicare make him a vulnerable target.
MPR photo/ Mark Zdechlik

Paulsen, who represents the wealthiest district in the state and sits on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, now has more than $1.6 million in his campaign's bank account for the general election. Challenger Brian Barnes has not yet reported his fundraising.

In a sign that Paulsen is not too concerned about his race, he transferred $62,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee which can be used to help vulnerable Republicans in other districts.

Paulsen also ramped up his campaign's spending with a $255,000 ad buy and $27,500 on producing commercials.

In the 1st District, DFL U.S. Rep. Tim Walz's campaign brought in more than $320,000 and he has just shy of $790,000 in the bank for the general election. Republican Allen Quist, who is challenging Walz, has not yet released his fundraising.

In the 7th District, DFL U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson raised more than $252,000 and has $657,000 in the bank. Republican challenger Lee Byberg's campaign has raised more than $86,000 and has $74,000 cash on hand.