1st fundraising reports in Mpls mayoral race

Samuels, Hodges, Schiff
Current Minneapolis City Councilors, from left, Don Samuels, Betsy Hodges and Gary Schiff are among the candidates running for mayor.
MPR File Photos

The fundraising totals Minneapolis mayoral candidates report Thursday will be relatively small, compared to the amount of money it will cost to campaign in the increasingly crowded field.

Only three candidates registered campaigns with Hennepin County in 2012. That allowed them to accept donations of $100 or less, and required them to report their year-end fundraising totals by Thursday.

Council Member Don Samuels said he didn't start soliciting donations for his campaign until Wednesday night, so he won't have any mayoral money to report for 2012. Council Member Gary Schiff raised about $20,000, according to his campaign manager. Council Member Betsy Hodges raised about $11,000.

Those fundraising totals represent at most a week or two of fundraising, the campaigns said. The vast majority of the money for the mayor's race will pour in this year, when candidates can accept individual donations up to $500.

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Running for mayor of Minneapolis costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Last time retiring Mayor R.T. Rybak drew a serious challenger in 2005, he raised close to $500,000. His opponent, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, raised close to $400,000.

And there's reason to believe this year's race will be far more expensive; it's the first time in 20 years Minneapolis has had an open-seat mayoral election.

At least six candidates are running so far. In addition to the three sitting City Council members, former Council President Jackie Cherryhomes will join the race in the coming weeks. Lawyer and businessman Cam Winton is running as an independent. A 29-year-old man named Grant Haas has also entered the race, according to the Minneapolis DFL website. Several other candidates are publicly considering running.

There will be no primary to winnow the field, meaning all the campaigns will need to raise enough cash to make it to Nov. 5. Minneapolis uses ranked-choice voting, also called instant runoff voting, for municipal races. On election day, voters get to choose a first-choice candidate, and if they want to, a second and third choice.