Big money once again pours into House races in Minnesota


WASHINGTON — Republican Cicely Davis, considered a political novice and a long shot to win her race against Rep. Ilhan Olam, has raised nearly $2 million, according to the Federal Elections Commission’s latest filings.

Cicely Davis

Long-shot challengers often have trouble raising money. But Omar, D-5


One of a number of Democratic progressives has become a political lightning rod for the GOP, particularly among its conservative, activist members. Money came from all over the country to support Davis’s challenge, with Florida and Texas being the top two states, other than Minnesota.

Kyle Kondik, University of Virginia Center for Politics, stated that Omar is a person many Republicans cannot stand and that this total reflects it. “This is also evident in other races in the country, such as Georgia where Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Democratic opponent raised a lot of money in a district which is functionally not winnable for a Democrat.”

Kondik stated, “House Races are very much Nationalized. Both in terms of how results often reflect a District’s presidential partisanship as well as how donors from across the country focus upon certain races.”

Kondik stated that while national parties emphasize winnable races in order to direct donors to races and candidates where they make a difference. However, donors can also get involved in defeating controversial members of the other side even though those members hold districts that are not competitive in general elections.

Omar was defeated by Lacy Johnson, a Republican who raised $12 million more than Omar and $5.7 million more than Omar. Omar was able to win re-election with over 64 percent of the vote compared to Johnson’s 26 per cent.

Tim Lindberg, an assistant professor of political science at University of Minnesota-Morris, stated that one of the side effects of increasing money in politics in America and the lack of competitive races for the House is that money could be easily sent to candidates with no chance of winning.

MinnPost analyzed candidate campaign reports from the second quarter of last year to determine that Davis raised almost $187,000 in individual donations (typically greater than $200) during the quarter. Around 77 percent of these donations were from outside-of-state.

However, most of Davis’s second quarter fundraising – almost $525,000 — came from smaller, unitemized donations. Omar and Davis may be different in their political ideologies, but they have both raised large amounts of campaign cash beyond Minnesota.

Omar received approximately 92 percent of nearly 252,000 in second quarter itemized contributions from outside-of-state donors. Omar also received $88,000 in nonitemized gifts.

Jeremy Slavin, Omar campaign spokesperson, said that the lawmaker is proud to lead a campaign funded by small-dollar grassroots donors and does not accept corporate or PAC money.

Samuels for Congress
Don Samuels

Slavin stated, “She knows that organized people always beat organized money.”

Omar must win the Democratic primary election, which will be held on Aug. 9 and in which Don Samuels, a former Minneapolis City Councilman, will challenge her.

Samuels raised more than Omar during the second quarter of fundraising, raising approximately $594,000 compared to Omar’s $380,000. Samuels ended the quarter with $530,000 more in his campaign account than Omar ($460,000), and Davis ($228,000). Samuels received approximately 80% of his itemized contributions from Minnesota residents, which is different than his rivals.

Ettinger lends a lot of money to his campaign

The 5 th District race attracts a lot of campaign money, but it isn’t the most expensive congressional race in Minnesota. Rep. Angie Craig (D), is facing a serious challenge by Republican Tyler Kistner in the 2 District. Craig raised over $1.1 million during the quarter, while Kistner raised just $491,000.

Rep. Angie Craig

Craig’s itemized donations were almost 40% from Minnesota while Kistner’s was 54% from outside the state.

Lindberg stated that “in the 2nd District, it’s not surprising that money is coming in from out of state.” This is one of few House seats that Republicans could win in November. Therefore, ensuring that Kistner, the Republican candidate for the district, has sufficient cash is crucial to winning the district.

Kistner for Congress
Tyler Kistner

Craig started the cycle with $1 million in her war chest, and finished the second quarter with $4.7 million cash in hand. Kistner’s campaign reported that she had $523,000 cash in her hands at the end.

The special election to fill the former Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s 1 st district seat is also drawing a lot of campaign funds. Hagedorn passed away in February. Republican Brad Finstad, Democrat Jeff Ettinger will compete to fill the remainder Hagedorn’s term in a special election on Aug. 9.

Ettinger for Congress
Jeff Ettinger

An ex-Hormel executive.

Ettinger has raised approximately $800,000.

In his efforts to win a safe Republican seat. He has borrowed $400,000 from his campaign to pay half of that amount, which is $400,000 in the red.

Finstad has now raised approximately $610,000. This is a significant amount considering the brief campaign period.

FEC data shows that congressional campaigns are getting more expensive with each cycle. The first 15 months of the 2020 cycle saw congressional candidates raise approximately $1.8 billion. Candidates raised $1.4 billion in the first 15 months for the 2020 cycle. That figure was $1.2 trillion in 2018. It was $884 million in 2012, ten years ago.

Brad Finstad

Lindberg stated that the key political takeaway was that it is not the amount of money in American elections, but the easy flow that is troubling.

He stated that money being transferred between political campaigns or organizations to be used for whatever purpose is most beneficial is a concern.

Lindberg stated that it was more difficult than ever to find out where the money came, even if you know where it has been spent.

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