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Omar tops Minnesota House members in money race

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10/23/2018 - St Paul, Minn- Fifth district congressional Democratic candidate Ilhan Omar.

Posted Apr. 16 | Updated Apr. 17 with corrected total for Pete Stauber

Controversy proved lucrative for Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s campaign fundraising, vaulting her to the front of the state’s pack for House members.

The first-term Democrat raised more money than anyone else in the House delegation over the first three months of the year. According to a newly filed campaign report, she pulled in more than $832,000 in donations, a healthy part of which was from people who gave less than $200. 

She reported having more than $606,000 on hand after expenses.

By comparison, she raised about $1.175 million last year when she was on the ballot after joining the race for an open seat in June.

Omar has been in the national spotlight for various comments she’s made since taking office that were criticized as anti-Semitic. She is a favorite Democratic target of Republicans, including President Trump.

Omar represents a solidly Democratic district centered in Minneapolis and is barely into a two-year term.

Among other first-termers from Minnesota in the House:

  • 1st District Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn raised $319,000 and has roughly $247,000 in the bank.

  • 2nd District Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig raised $329,000 and ended the quarter with $302,000 in reserve, although she’s also carrying $200,000 in personal loan debt.

  • 3rd District Democratic U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips raised $196,000 and had $122,000 in available cash, but also has personal loans to pay back from his first run.

  • 8th District Republican Rep. Pete Stauber raised $277,000 and had $219,000 in the bank as of April 1.

Minnesota’s three veteran House members also built up their cash stashes.

  • 4th District Democratic U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum took in $174,000 in the quarter and had $210,000 in the bank.

  • 6th District Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer raised $309,000 and had $417,000 in available money.

  • 7th District Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson scooped up $282,000 and had $742,000 in reserve.

Minnesota will also have a U.S. Senate race in 2020 as Democrat Tina Smith tries for a six-year term after winning the race to fill out former Sen. Al Franken’s unexpired term. Between January and March, Smith raised just shy of $1.1 million and had about that much left.

With about 18 months before the next election, challengers who jump into any of the races will have to play catch-up to the incumbents. But money can rush in quickly and outside groups can level the playing field with millions of dollars in independent activity in key races.