Campaign cash pours into Minnesota

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In a record-setting year for campaign spending nationally Minnesota is following the trend and seeing record amounts raised and spent across a spectrum of races. Two things stand out. Democrats have a huge fundraising advantage and millions of dollars influencing Minnesota elections are coming from outside the state.

“We are seeing an avalanche of money coming into Minnesota for both parties, but particularly for the Democratic Party,” says Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

The Minnesota DFL Party reported last week it has raised $30 million, including $19.6 million for state campaigns and $10.8 million for federal campaigns. In addition, the DFL-aligned “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” (ABM) reports raising $15.8 million, according to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board. By comparison, the Minnesota Republican Party reports raising $1.1 million. The biggest fundraising for a Republican-aligned outside spending group is “Minnesota for Freedom,” funded by the Republican Attorneys General Association.

Much of that “outside” spending literally comes from outside Minnesota.

“The Alliance for a Better Minnesota pulls in a lot of money from elsewhere into the elections in Minnesota and they are a major mechanism for Democratic messaging,” says Steven Schier, a Carleton College political analyst. ABM has targeted nearly all of its millions of dollars at television attack ads and digital advertising aimed at Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen. They actually raise their money from a number of other Democratic fundraising groups, like the 2022 Fund, DGA Action and the WIN Minnesota PAC. Much of that money is raised from around the nation.

One Minnesota congressional race is also setting a record for campaign spending this year, according to the website The 2nd District race between Democratic incumbent Angie Craig and Republican challenger has attracted $18.6 million in “outside” spending through late October, a number that could eclipse $20 million when the final reports are filed. The money is being spent about evenly against both Craig and Kistner by mostly national political groups. Combined with the $10 million raised by the two candidates (about $7 million for Craig and $3 million for Kistner), it will likely be the first Minnesota congressional race to go over $30 million in spending.

“A lot of money from elsewhere in the country is coming into this state and influencing voters and helping to shape the outcome of Minnesota elections,” Schier says.

Minnesota has seen the growing influence of outside spending over the past dozen years or so. For instance, since 2010, the Alliance for a Better Minnesota has raised more than $53 million to influence Minnesota elections.