"Outside" spending soars in Minnesota Congressional races

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After a slow start this campaign season, the amount of money pouring into some Minnesota congressional races more than tripled since the start of October. Most of the spending happening, not surprisingly, in Minnesota’s two most competitive races.

As of Tuesday afternoon, $11.9 million has been spent by interest groups trying to influence the Seventh Congressional District race in western Minnesota. Just over $11 million of that has been spent on negative ads against Republican Michelle Fischbach and Democrat Collin Peterson by groups like the Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC or the Republican Congressional Leadership Fund.

It’s a similar story in the First Congressional District, where about $7.2 million has been spent, with $6.8 million (94 percent) on negative advertising against Democrat Dan Feehan and Republican Jim Hagedorn.

‘Outside’ spending on Minnesota political campaigns down dramatically

"The first congressional district is interesting," says Hamline University political analyst David Schultz. "This is a rematch from two years ago of Hagedorn and Feehan. Hagedorn won by about 1,400 votes."

Schultz says it’s common for outside interest groups to rely on negative advertising to influence races late in a campaign. However, with Democratic control of the U.S. House not considered by many to be in jeopardy, the amount of money spent in those races is down.

"Very few people are thinking right now the House of Representatives is going to shift partisan control," Schultz said. "The battle is really for the Senate race."

With Minnesota’s Senate race between Jason Lewis and Tina Smith only tightening in the past week, only $1.7 million has been spent by outside groups in that race. Meanwhile, a very competitive Senate race in Iowa has generated $150 million in outside spending.