The leading candidates for mayor have raised more than $1.1 million for their campaigns with former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew leading the field with $420,284 in campaign contributions, according to campaign finance reports filed with Hennepin County today.
A political action committee called a Coalition for a Better Minneapolis supporting Andrew’s campaign has raised another $136,500. The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation Legislative Fund gave the largest amount in donations to the PAC with two separate contributions totaling $27,500, followed by Minneapolis publisher and Democratic heavyweight Vance Opperman contributing $25,000 and the Fire Fighters Association of Minneapolis Political Fund donating $18,000.
An independent expenditure can spend an unlimited amount on a candidate as long as it acts independently of the candidate.
City Council Member Betsy Hodges has raised the second most money of the top mayoral candidates with $285,266 in campaign contributions. A political action committee called a Coalition for a Greater Minneapolis has raised $38,600 for her as well. Her campaign also has about $40,000 of outstanding debt, according to her campaign finance report.
City Council Member Don Samuels came in third with $147,728 in contributions followed by former City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes with $116,647 in donations and wind power attorney Cam Winton at $108,706.
Cherryhomes also has a PAC supporting her campaign called Minneapolis Forward. It has raised $50,600 to support her campaign and spent $36,090. The top contributor is Miami-based AGT Enterprises, which donated $20,000.
Park Board Commissioner Bob Fine, a late entry into the race, reported $21,035 in contributions; business executive Stephanie Woodruff has raised $8,110; and Planning Commissioner Dan Cohen reported $1,795 in donations. Cohen, however, has loaned his campaign a total of $334,000 — far more than any other candidate running for a Minneapolis office.
The top two spenders in the race are Andrew and Cohen. Andrew’s campaign has reported $363,356 in expenditures and Cohen’s team has spent $327,330 despite the low fundraising totals.
The PAC supporting Andrew has spent nearly $100,000 — far more than the one supporting Hodges.
Andrew has raised more than $148,000 since the last filing period in late August.
“October was by far our strongest month — we’re building momentum on momentum in the final week of the campaign and our strong fundraising allows us to get our message of building a better Minneapolis for everyone out to as many voters as possible,” Andrew said.
Hodges' campaign was recently buoyed by the endorsement of the Star Tribune's editorial board. She earned the paper's top choice for mayor followed by Samuels as the second choice and Cherryhomes ranked third. The editorial board criticized Andrew for his ties to labor and teacher unions and for shifting his message depending on his audience.
Andrew O'Leary, Hodges' campaign manager said her team is "excited to continue our conversation with the voters of Minneapolis."
"Betsy's vision of a progressive, inclusive and livable city is resonating in every neighborhood. There are five days and a wake up to go until Election Day and Betsy and her supporters are working hard to win," he said.
Hodges has raised more than $96,000 in new contributions in the past two months.
Samuels, Cherryhomes and Winton have also attracted many more donors since late summer.
Cherryhomes’ campaign has raised $39,892 since the last filing. “This report shows the strong support our campaign has built throughout Minneapolis,” she said.
Winton said the fundraising totals of his DFL opponents are not surprising.
"They have drawn upon their mutual-back-scratching society to raise more funds than I have, but as I have noted previously, my opponents are running their campaigns just like they'd run the city: bloated and overspending. In contrast, I am running my campaign the way I'd run the city: lean and getting the job done cost-effectively," he said.
Candidates and the political action committees working on their behalf have spent a significant amount of the campaign cash on direct mail pieces, polling research and advertisements in various media outlets.
Campaign teams with the most cash also have the advantage of being able to organize large field operations to do door knocking and phone calls to help get out the vote.
Larry Jacobs, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said "Hodges and, especially, Andrew have had the gas to fuel their ground operation, which will likely determine the winner."
"It is quite possible that there will be a knot of three or perhaps more candidates in double figures after 1st ballots; that will make second and third ballots the decision makers. Candidates with capacity to go door to door to make the case not only for first but, if that isn't possible, second or third choices will be in much stronger position," he said.
Jacob Frey, the DFL-endorsed candidate for the Third Ward seat, leads the field of people running for City Council in fundraising with more than $100,000 in donations since he launched his campaign in 2012.
He has raised $91,246 in campaign contributions this year and loaned his campaign $10,000.
All told, he’s received 742 contributions from 662 individuals and eight organizations, according to his campaign team. They say it's the largest amount ever raised by a non-incumbent candidate running for City Council.
“The outpouring of financial support, the majority of it in small donations, from such a broad base of donors has been overwhelming,” Frey said.
City Council Member Diane Hofstede, the incumbent for the Third Ward, has raised less than half of what Frey has raised for her reelection campaign. She has reported securing $42,383 in campaign contributions.
(Note: This story has been updated with the latest information from Samuels' report and to correct contribution totals to the independent expenditure supporting Andrew.)