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Walz keeps cash edge as spending takes off in final stretch to Election Day

All but one of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidates for statewide office have maintained a fundraising edge in the 2022 campaign.

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and former Minnesota Sen. Scott Jensen.
John Autey and Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press
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ST. PAUL — With early voting underway and the election just over a month from now, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz maintains a significant fundraising advantage over GOP challenger Scott Jensen.

As of Sept. 20, Walz’s campaign had more than $3.2 million in its coffers, versus Jensen’s roughly $864,000, according to reports released Wednesday by the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board. Walz has held the money advantage for the entire campaign, something that has allowed him to purchase more airtime than his Republican rival. So far this year, Walz has spent $4.6 million on campaigning for his second term as governor. Meanwhile, Jensen has spent $2.8 million.

While fundraising alone does not win elections, candidates with more money can afford to sustain more aggressive campaigns and pay for more TV advertising. The reports, which candidates must file with the state multiple times over the course of an election year, can give a window into levels of support and relative strengths of the campaigns.

Donations have picked up considerably since the Aug. 9 primary election. In a fundraising email, Jensen’s campaign said it had brought in $1.8 million in the last two months and has raised a record amount for a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota. They raised a million in the first half of the year.

ELECTION 2022
While results still need to be certified, Minnesota was just one of three states to top the 60% mark, along with Wisconsin and Maine, according to the U.S. Election Project.

Walz has raised $4.4 million so far this year, $1.7 million of that since July. But a big part of Jensen’s haul in the past few months comes from more than $583,000 in state election subsidy money, which Walz declined to take. In declining the subsidy, Walz is not bound by spending caps.

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Besides campaign spending, outside groups are also spending to back candidates in the governor’s race. Walz-aligned Alliance For A Better Minnesota, have spent millions of dollars on TV advertising since August.

A recent poll from Minnesota Public Radio, KARE 11, and the Star Tribune found 41% support for Jensen and 48% for Walz . The remaining 11% were undecided or gave another answer.

Democratic Farmer Labor candidates for statewide office have largely bested their GOP challengers during this election cycle in spending and fundraising. No Republican has won statewide office in Minnesota since 2006. 

AG, SOS, auditor

In the race for Minnesota attorney general, DFL incumbent Keith Ellison has outraised and continues to have a cash advantage over GOP challenger Jim Schultz. With more than $922,000 on hand, Ellison has nearly three times as much cash as Schultz as they head into the final month of the campaign. Still, Schultz has raised nearly half a million dollars since July, a good portion of what he has managed to bring in so far this year.

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Keith Ellison answers questions from the press after he kicks off a grass-roots door-knocking event at North Commons Park in Minneapolis, Friday, Aug. 17. Jean Pieri / St. Paul Pioneer Press

National political observers have taken notice of the race for attorney general, with many describing the contest as competitive. A September poll from Minnesota Public Radio, KARE 11, and the Star Tribune showed Ellison and Schultz were separated by just 1%, with 9% of voters undecided.

Schultz has made crime a central issue in the campaign and has said he would shift the office’s resources to public safety. Ellison, who is seeking his second term, has positioned himself as a defender of abortion rights.

Jim Schultz.jpeg
Jim Schultz

DFL Secretary of State Steve Simon enters the final stretch of the campaign with more than $966,000 cash on hand, a significant lead over Republican challenger Kim Crockett’s $119,000. Simon was elected in 2014 and is seeking a third term. National groups have paid more attention to secretary of state races as the office holder is the state's top elections administrator — a key position as groups advance unproven claims of election fraud.

The race for state auditor is the only statewide contest where a Republican has outraised an incumbent Democrat. The September Minnesota Campaign Finance Board report shows Republican Ryan Wilson had more than $162,000 cash on hand, while DFL incumbent Auditor Julie Blaha had about $74,000. Wilson has largely self-financed his campaign.

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The auditor is the statewide office that oversees billions of dollars in local government spending. Blaha was elected in 2018.

Election Day is Nov. 8. Candidates will file one more report on fundraising the week before.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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