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DFL raises, spends millions in push to regain majority in Legislature

Mike Mullen//October 30, 2012

DFL raises, spends millions in push to regain majority in Legislature

Mike Mullen//October 30, 2012

The DFL Party spent $70,000 on behalf of Senate candidate Melisa Franzen. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

With one week to go before election day, the DFL Party’s campaign fiance reports find the minority party flush with cash and spending aggressively in its quest to win back a majority in the Legislature. Excluding transfers between its various funds, the DFL State Central Committee, the DFL House Caucus and DFL Senate Caucus have spent more than $5.4 million during 2012, and have a combined $2.32 million cash on hand.

The reports, which capture campaign finances through the 10-day pre-general election deadline, reveal the DFL’s central committee as the chief spending arm of the three groups.  The committee disclosed $2.4 million in campaign expenses and $1.95 million in outside expenditures, which have paid for campaign materials in dozens of targeted legislative campaigns. The central committee also has $1.12 million cash on hand, the largest bottom-line total among the three DFL funds.

The DFL House Caucus has $933,000 cash on hand, while the DFL Senate Caucus has only $228,000 in its bank account.

The DFL State Central Committee’s largest donor was the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which made six contributions in September and October totaling $550,000 to the party. Another large donor in recent months was the teachers’ union political action committee Education Minnesota, which sent a combined $306,000 since September, bringing its annual total to $536,000 to date.

The central committee’s reports disclose $8.1 million received an just over $7 million spent during the year, but large chunks of that are money transfers to and from its caucus units. The DFL Senate Caucus passed $2.2 million to the central committee, and the DFL House Caucus contributed $1.53 million; the central committee has cycled $2.6 million of that cash back to the caucus funds.

The party’s independent expenditure choices show heavy spending in a handful of swing districts. Among the beneficiaries of that spending is DFL Senate candidate Melisa Franzen. The party has spent more than $70,000 on positive messaging for Franzen; another $72,000 was spent on negative literature against Franzen’s opponent, Rep. Keith Downey. Likewise, the party has spent both ways on the Senate District 4 race, with $54,000 spent promoting DFL candidate Kent Eken, and  $66,000 spent targeting Republican candidate Phil Hansen.

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