It’s a $34M and counting in battle for Minn.’s congressional seats

Published 9:41 am Friday, October 21, 2016

By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

St. Paul Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL — Candidates, their allies and opponents have spent nearly $34 million in Minnesota’s U.S. House seats — and the numbers are still growing.

Email newsletter signup

The numbers, collected by ProPublica from Federal Election Commission data, show a strict concentration of cash. Nearly 80 percent of the campaign lucre has gone to just three districts: the northern 8th District, the west suburban 3rd District and south suburban 2nd District. Those three districts are considered among the most likely to flip party control in the nation.

But the 8th District, where Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan is battling Republican Stewart Mills for the second time, is the biggest bet for both sides. Between the candidates’ $4.4 million and the outside groups $9.6 million, that race is one of the most expensive in the country.

When outside groups spend money on federal races they have to designate whether the cash is being spent to support a candidate or oppose one. Analyzing that division leads to insight into the massive spending. For purposes of the analysis, the Pioneer Press added the amount that candidates spent out of their own campaigns to the outside money spent to support them.

Both Nolan and Mills have had between $2.6 million and $2.8 million in their corner —  that is positive ads about themselves and the cash the candidates campaigns controlled. But, as of Thursday, Mills has had about a $1 million more spent to oppose him than Nolan has. Largely that extra cash has gone to television ads to tear him down, according to reports to the Federal Election Commission.

The spending is more uneven in the 2nd Congressional District, where Democrat Angie Craig and Republican Jason Lewis are vying to replace U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Republican.

Of the $6.4 million spent in that district, the cash spent to support Craig far out paces that to back Lewis. That’s largely because Craig, who has loaned her campaign considerable sums, has raised and spent far more on the campaign than Lewis has. Indeed, according to the last reports, her campaign has spent more than all but three House campaigns in the nation.

Craig’s allies have also spent more money attacking Lewis than his allies have spent, so far, attacking Craig. As of Thursday, nearly $2 million has gone to oppose Lewis but only $1.4 million has gone after Craig.

But the anti-Craig money has been ramping up. This week alone, the National Republican Congressional Committee reported spending about $700,000 on advertisements to attack her.

In the 3rd district, the spending is quite lopsided.

That’s because Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s has spent $2.8 million out of his large war chest and the fact that while the DCCC, Democratic House-backers main campaign arm, has spent heavily in the district to attack Paulsen, outside groups that support Paulsen have reported spending almost nothing.

Of the nearly $7 million spent in that district, $2.4 million has been used to attack Paulsen and $3 million has been used to support him. The vast majority of the money to support him has come from Paulsen’s own campaign.
—Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.