What Fundraising and Support Tell Us About the Special Election in Minnesota’s First Congressional District

In an unusually short campaign for a U.S. House seat representing southern Minnesota’s first congressional district, it can be difficult to predict which candidates are actually competitors in the race to replace Republican Representative Jim Hegdorn, whose February campaign was held. He died in the middle.

Rep. Jim Hadhorn

Rep. Jim Hadhorn

But some indicators are emerging as to who could be a contender for the May 24 primary and the August 9 special election. One is fundraising. The Federal Election Commission released a new round of data on race over the weekend, showing four 10 Republican Candidates With significant cash and, so far, only one DFLer with more money.

Another measure of potential campaign power is endorsement, which refers to who has the support of powerful or popular people who influence voters.

Neither is a sure sign of success. Remember Michael Bloomberg’s well-financed but unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination? But they are the data points that help to understand race better.

fundraising race

On the Republican side, agriculture attorney and Albert Lee’s GOP activist Matt Benda is reported to have raised $168,651, which is The highest number of candidates from the first district so far, Unlike many other major GOP candidates, Benda has no prior experience in elected office or in the upper echelons of the Republican Party. Benda, who also gave himself a $15,000 loan, has more than $170,000 on hand.

Raising and Spending for the First Congressional District Candidates to Run as Republicans

Source: Federal Election Commission

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Right behind him is Republican Brad Finstadt—a former state legislator and USDA director of rural development for Minnesota under President Donald Trump—who reported raising $156,196 and has about $150,000. Trailing Finstad by a hair is Jennifer Carnahan, the former chair of the state Republican Party and Hegdorn’s widow, who is reported to have raised $151,000 and has about $121,000 on hand. Neither Finstad or Carnahan reported any debt.

Brad Finstead

Brad Finstead

State Representative Jeremy Munson, a Lake Crystal candidate who is part of a slightly different Republican caucus in the Minnesota House, has raised less: $102,234. But he still has the most cash to use for campaigning for any candidate — thanks to a $200,000 loan from himself. Munson was the first Republican to file for District 1 in late February, while most other candidates were announced in mid-March.

State Rep. Niels Pearson, a more liberal Republican from Rochester, has only raised $11,000 but has given himself a $100,000 loan. The remaining five GOP candidates — Kevin Kokina, Ken Nevitsky, Roger Ungemach, JR Ewing and Bob Carney Jr. — have reported little or no money raised or no information reported by the FEC.

The race for the first district could be an uphill climb for Democrats. The absence of an incumbent following Hegdorn’s death shook the predictions of congressional watchers for the race: Saturday’s Crystal Ball “Safe Republicans” rates the race and Cook Political Report Considers the race a “likely Republican”.

DFLers. Rise and Spend for First Congressional District Candidates Running as

Source: Federal Election Commission

Compared to the Republican side, the DFL side of the race is smaller.

Jeff Ettinger

Jeff Ettinger

By far, the DFL candidate with the most financial resources—and the only DFLer with anywhere near the amount of cash that some Republicans have raised—is one of the party’s most recent entrants to the race: Jeff Ettinger, former CEO of Hormel, who announced their candidacy in mid-March and reported raising more than $148,000. He has $143,000 in his hand.

Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor and former George W. Bush ethics attorney, entered the race in late February. She made her political debut in 2018 in the US Senate primary challenge to Sen. Tina Smith. Painter has raised about $22,200 since entering the race, mostly from individuals, and has $17,300 on hand.

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Rick DeVoe, owner of the Red Wing bookstore and former political director of the local building trade union, raised $7,500 and has $12,000. He loaned his campaign $15,000.

Sarah Breakbill-Hacke, a former political consultant who announced her CD1 bid in late February, has raised $9,800 and has $3,500.

Of course, candidate fundraising isn’t the only money to work in these elections. Outside spending by political committees is also channeled into many Congressional races.

Finstad, Pearson, Ettinger capture early commercials

In a fight for support, Finstadt and Pearson have corrupted most of the Republican “establishment”, otherwise known as current and former elected officials.

Finstad is backed by some of the state’s most famous Republicans. Her campaign last week announced support from Republican U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach of Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District and GOP Rep. Pete Stauber of the 8th Congressional District.

“Brad Finstadt will work on our conservative rural values ​​in Congress,” Fischbach said in a prepared statement. (The state’s other GOP member of Congress, Tom Emmer of the 6th District, has not endorsed.)

Finstad was assigned to Pennsylvania US Representative Gt. Thompson, the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, as well as most of the southern Minnesota GOP state legislators who have chosen a side, including Reps. Brian Daniels, Rod Hamilton, Paul Torkelson, John Petersburg and Sense. Julie Rosen, Gary Dames and John Jasinski. Former Target CEO Bob Ulrich also donated to Finstad.

State Representative Niels Pearson

State Representative Niels Pearson

In April, Pearson announced that at least 21 Republican state lawmakers supported him, including the longtime Rochester Sens. David Sengem and Carla Nelson, as well as Preston’s representative Greg David. The remaining 1 are from outside the Congressional District, however.

Munson has garnered support from several conservative members of Congress, including Kentucky Representative Thomas Massey, Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, and Pennsylvania Representative Scott Perry, who chairs the House Freedom Caucus. St Peter Rep. Susan Eckland contributed to Munson’s campaign.

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Benda’s campaign has not uncovered any endorsements, but spokesman Lucas Severson said the candidate wants to be a “free agent” not tied to anyone or any particular interests. Carnahan, a polarizing figure During a scandal-plagued stint as head of the state GOP, there is no significant support. But media giant Stanley Hubbard, CEO of Hubbard Broadcasting, has donated to his campaign.

In the DFL primary, Ettinger has locked in several important endorsements so far. She also declared support from a slate of former lawmakers in the ever-democratic areas of southern Minnesota, such as Jean Poppe, who represented Austin in the State House from 2005 to 2020, when she lost to a Republican. Also supporting Ettinger are former Mankato Representative Jack Considine, former Mankato Representative Kathy Bryant and former Austin State Sen. Dan Sparks.

Several mayors are supporting Ettinger, including Pat Boustian of Louvern, Mike Kuhle of Worthington and former Austin Mayor Tom Steiham. Current State Representative. Gene Pelowski also supports Ettinger.

Breakbill-Hack said on social media that it has been endorsed by Jamie Mahlberg, the former DFL state house candidate from Rochester and Jovi Rocky, the former candidate for mayor of Winona.

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