A new batch of fundraising reports released Tuesday offer clues as to which legislative races are worth watching heading into the fall.
Candidates are required to file the pre-primary report with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. The reports cover fundraising activity from Jan. 1 to July 18. Below are five takeaways from the reports when it comes to legislative races in southeast Minnesota.
1. Battle to replace retiring GOP Rep. Tim Kelly is one to watch
The two Red Wing candidates battling for the open House District 21A seat raised more money than any other southeast Minnesota candidates. Democrat Lisa Bayley topped the fundraising list, hauling in $42,375. Nabbing the number two spot was Republican Barb Haley with $34,452. The strong fundraising numbers indicate both women are fighting hard to win that open seat. Democrats see the seat as a pickup opportunity, but Republicans are expected to fight hard to keep the seat red.
2. Nelson has commanding fundraising advantage
The most financially lopsided race in southeast Minnesota is the Senate District 26 contest. Rochester Republican Sen. Carla Nelson had $61,052 in the bank as of July 18. Compare that to her Rochester DFL rival Rich Wright, who had a cash balance of $3,188.
3. Rivals seeking to replace DFL Rep. Kim Norton fairly evenly matched
The two candidates seeking to replaced retiring DFL Rep. Kim Norton appear to be fairly evenly matched when it comes to fundraising. Former Republican Rep. Fran Bradley does have a slight advantage. He raised $24,240 — the fourth highest amount among southeast Minnesota legislative candidates. He closed out the reporting period with $19,118 in the bank. His rival, Rochester Democrat Duane Sauke, was close behind. Sauke raised $17,605 and had a cash balance of $16,185.
4. Little fundraising for House District 21B seat.
Mazeppa Republican Rep. Steve Drazkowski wins the award for the least money. The Republican only raised $435 during the reporting period. However, he has $20,569 in his campaign bank account. His rival, Elgin Democrat Elise Diesslin, raised $2,603 and had $2,015 in the bank. Drazkowski was first elected to the seat in 2007 and the district leans heavily Republican, making it a tough pick up for Democrats.
5. Not much fundraising for House District 25A seat
Scan the campaign reports and it’s striking how little money has been raised by Byron Republican Rep. Duane Quam. The reports show the incumbent raised $1,950 and had $2,240 in the bank — by far the least of any incumbent lawmaker in southeast Minnesota. His opponent, Mantorville Democrat Linda Walbruch, raised $4,253 and had a cash balance of $947. Unless the political parties or outside groups decide to pour cash into this race, voters in the district can probably expect to see little political advertising from these candidates headed into November.
Originally published in the Post-Bulletin.