Though early in campaign season, Minnesota members of Congress have head start in fundraising

20 July 2023

WASHINGTON — While it’s still early in the 2024 election season, several Minnesota lawmakers are already in the $1 million dollar club, having raised at least that much money in their campaign accounts to fend off any challengers.

Rep. Angie Craig, D-2nd District, a perennially “most vulnerable” member of Congress, has raised more than $1.5 million as of June 30, according to the latest filings with the Federal Elections Commission show.

Craig, who represents a swing district that includes Twin Cities’ suburbs as well as rural areas, had spent down nearly all of her campaign funds fending off Republican Tyler Kistner in one of most expensive races of the 2022 election. Her seat has been targeted again by the National Republican Campaign Committee.

“Every election cycle, Washington politicians and dark money super PACs throw everything they’ve got at defeating me in the Second District, but thanks to grassroots support like this, we’re able to fight back every time,” Craig said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve Minnesotans in Congress, and I’ll fight like hell to keep it that way.”

Craig has already drawn two GOP challengers. One is Tayler Rahm, a criminal defense lawyer and political newcomer who lives in Burnsville and the other is Michael Murphy, the former mayor of Lexington and a former GOP gubernatorial candidate.

Neither candidate has as yet raised anywhere near as much political cash as Craig.

Rahm reported raising $51,490 for his campaign and Murphy reported raising $3,857.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-5th District, who has raised nearly $1.2 million in campaign cash this year, has drawn a Democratic challenger. She is Minneapolis-based attorney Sarah Gad, who filed for candidacy with the FEC on July 7 and did not raise any campaign cash in the first six months of the year.

Gad has run for Congress before. In 2020, she unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill.

While Gad’s campaign has not taken off yet, Omar’s campaign is in full operation, spending about $786,000 on digital ads, consultants, fundraising, staff salaries, travel and other campaign-related expenses.

Yet the Minnesota lawmaker who has raised the most money this year is Rep. Tom Emmer, R-6th District, who was elected to the No. 3 position in the U.S. House, that of majority whip, soon after the GOP took over control of Congress in January.

Since then, Emmer has raised $2.4 million in his personal campaign account. His filings with the FEC also show that Emmer, the former head of the National Republican Campaign Committee, continues to help GOP candidates win elections.

He has donated to dozens of GOP candidates from his campaign funds, including to the campaigns of some of the most vulnerable Republicans in the House, including Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Mike Lawler of New York.

Emmer has also contributed about $774,000 to the NRCC so far this year.

Meanwhile, Rep. Betty McCollum, D-4th District, raised about $468,000 in political money in the first six months of this year and Rep. Dean Phillips, D-3rd District, raised nearly $550,000.

Rep. Pete Stauber, R-8th District, raised about $571,000, and Rep. Brad Finstad, R-1st District, nearly $530,000. A member of the House Agriculture Committee and the owner of a family farm, Finstad’s campaign received contributions in the past quarter from more than two dozen political action committees that represent agricultural interests, including the American Sugar Cane League PAC, the National Pork Producers Council Pork PAC and the National Corn Growers Association PAC.

The Minnesota lawmaker who has raised the least amount of campaign cash in the first half of the year was Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-7th District. Fischbach’s campaign raised nearly $270,000.

The cost of funding a U.S. House race has been rising substantially with each campaign cycle and incumbents continue to have an outsized advantage when it comes to campaign fundraising.

According to the FEC, the average Democratic incumbent raised nearly $2 million in the 2021-2022 campaign cycle and the average Republican raise about $1.9 million. Meanwhile, the average Democratic challenger raised about $77,000 and the average Republican challenger raised about $60,000.

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