Daily Reformer: Campaign finance reports: top fundraisers and big spenders

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Good morning.

Headline in local media outlet last night: Amy Klobuchar gets a boost from likely fifth place finish in Iowa

Nope, that’s not a thing. 

(Good on whoever changed it.)

Today on the Reformer: 

  • Max Nesterak on a couple Dems’ plans to give everyone who needs one a rental voucher, with an assist from data maven Rilyn Eischens. This isn’t going to happen, but I learned a lot when I read this piece. An astounding number of Minnesotans pay more than 30% of their income in rent and housing; think of how much easier education would be if we didn’t have kids moving 3 or 4 times per year. Given Republican desires for “workforce housing” — i.e. housing subsidies — in Greater Minnesota, maybe there’s a grand bargain here. Read this piece
  • Paul Austin of Conservation Minnesota argues that regulation can lead to innovation, in a piece supporting Gov. Tim Walz’s proposal to get us to join 14 other states that have adopted the Clean Car Standard, which is the tougher California clean air rules that inevitably leads to automakers selling more electric vehicles in states that adopt them. 
  • Rilyn Eischens has a fun little post about some state-of-the-union data for last night’s State-of-the-Union. Check out the GDP chart. What do you notice? Trump boom? We’re back to the mean. Also, just one-third of eighth graders are proficient in math and reading, which seems not good.

But the presidency is as much about luck as anything else, and Trump has been relatively lucky lately. 

AP: The president entered the evening on a roll, with his impeachment acquittal imminent, his job approval numbers ticking upward and Wall Street looking strong. He struck a largely optimistic tone Tuesday night, though even in past moments when Trump has struck a tone of bipartisanship and cooperation, he has consistently returned to harsher rhetoric within days.

“America’s enemies are on the run, America’s fortunes are on the rise and America’s future is blazing bright,” Trump declared. “In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny. We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!”

The past three presidents looked relatively weak going into their reelections. Incumbents are hard to beat. He’s expected to be acquitted by the Senate today. 

But events can change on a dime: Nearly 25,000 infected with coronavirus; Hyundai shutting down production in South Korea; oil industry said to be “in the doldrums”: The Times.

Rep. Dean Phillips brought GOP Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde to the State of the Union, and the 3rd District Democrat and the bipartisan “problem solvers caucus” all wore purple ties to commemorate bipartisan comity. I bet Phillips’ was the nicest tie. Just a guess. 

Campaign cash

While much of the Minnesota political press corps was in Iowa, the state campaign finance filings came and went and no one was the wiser. 

We got ya covered. 

Some takeaways: 

  • The DFL blew $440K on the 2019 special election to replace former Sen. Tony Lourey, and lost. Much of that money was moved over from the Senate DFL, after the latter torched a crazy amount in the 2018 special they also lost. It got so bad Senate DFL managed to rack up some overdraft fees. (This is on Gov. Tim Walz, who picked Lourey to be his commissioner of DHS, only to see him resign last summer.)
  • The DFL state party filing is a sight to behold, as Chair Ken Martin continues to be the state’s top fundraiser. Here’s who gave at least $25K: AFSCME Council 5; Jeffrey Anderson (Archdiocese plaintiffs); James and Pamela Deal, (crop insurance), $142K; teachers union, $137K; IBEW, $62,500; painters, $47K; Laborers; Lawrence James (finance), $55K; MAPE, the public employee union, $166K; Alida Rockefeller Messinger, ex-wife of Mark Dayton, $350K ; AFL-CIO, Nurses; National Democratic Redistricting Committee (!); Minneapolis teachers local; carpenters, $67K; Vance Opperman, $173K; Tyler Phillips, $95K; SEIU Health Care Minnesota; Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux PAC; Seattle venture capitalist Richard Tong, $30K. Bear in mind, this is just the state account. 
  • AG Keith Ellison was a major donor to the DFL, with his campaign giving the party nearly $124K in 2019; payback for the party’s help during his challenging 2018 run.
  • There’s not a great apples-to-apples comparison between the two major state parties because of the confusing interaction with the federal accounts, but suffice to say the GOP is not raising money like the DFL. But obviously the Republicans have the advantage of their man in the White House, who is committed to spending $30 million here this year. 
  • Sen. Paul Gazelka and his crew have also become accomplished fundraisers, winding up with $2M cash-on-hand. (To be sure, it’s easier when you didn’t run in 2018.) Their money comes in smaller batches, though Mitch and Martin Davis each gave $75K; Stan Hubbard, $75K; Biz Partnership, which is Charlie Weaver’s Fortune 500 types, $50K; Robert Ulrich, former CEO of Target, $100K.  
  • Among endangered Senate Republicans, Paul Anderson has more than $100K in the bank; Dan Hall has work to do; he has just $67K in the bank. 
  • House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler and their caucus proved to be the best fundraisers in the Legislature, however, raising $1.6M. Interesting names: Adam Bold sold his finance company and now chairs a Hollywood agency and gave Minnesota House Dems $25K. (Whose law school classmate are you?) Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, $100K. Like Gazelka, Hortman is having to grind out smaller donations than DFL Chair Ken Martin. 
  • Win Minnesota gave Win Minnesota Political Action Fund $700K on New Year’s Eve 2019. That’s the finance arm of Alliance for a Better Minnesota, the DFL-backing group is supported by a handful of large donors, Messinger among them.
  • State Sen. Tom Bakk’s report. Still handwritten.

What did you see when you dug through those reports? Tell me: [email protected] 

Walz will present the LeadingAge Caregiver of the Year Award at the RiverCentre; speak at the  grand opening of the Glen at Valley Creek, a new 42-unit development of affordable senior housing, Woodbury; and join legislative leaders to discuss the upcoming legislative session at the Senate building.