Cravaack outraises Oberstar 3-1 in 8th DistrictBut Oberstar still has a commanding fundraising lead over Cravaack, thanks largely to donations from individual contributions from outside the 8th District and from political action committees.
Chip Cravaack has raised three times as much money as longtime Congressman Jim Oberstar — at least when it comes to financial support within the 8th District.
Oberstar raised about $12,000 from 33 constituents who gave $200 or more from Jan. 1, 2009, to Sept. 30, 2010, according to Federal Election Commission reports analyzed by the News Tribune.
Cravaack raised more than $41,000 from 69 district residents as of July 21, the most recent FEC data available on him.
But Oberstar still has a commanding fundraising lead over Cravaack, thanks largely to donations from individual contributions from outside the 8th District and from political action committees.
About $1 million of the $1.7 million Oberstar has raised for this election have come from PACs, while the vast majority of his individual contributions of $200 or more have come from outside the district. He has received 95 of those contributions from the state of Texas, compared to nine from Duluth.
It’s not uncommon for longtime incumbents to raise a majority of their campaign money from outside their districts, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign funding. Two years ago it took about $1.4 million to win a congressional seat, Krumholz said, and many districts don’t have the disposable income to pay for such an expensive campaign.
But for Oberstar to be out-raised in his own district should be a concern to his supporters, Krumholz said.
“On Nov. 2, what matters is who’s going to vote for him and not the money he’s raised (from outside supporters),” she said. “Money can’t counter votes.”
The finance reports don’t reflect the level of support Oberstar has in his district, said his spokesman, John Schadl.
Oberstar has about 1,000 volunteers among district residents who are more prone to working on a campaign than donating to it, Schadl said.
“This is not an area where people write a lot of checks, but it is an area where they spend a lot of their time,” he said.
As for Oberstar receiving his contributions from PACs and out-of-district donors, Schadl said, that shouldn’t be a concern to voters.
“He is an expert on transportation policy and chair of the full committee,” Schadl said. “It would be weird if those types of donors didn’t donate to his campaign. The real test is to look at his voting record and see if it’s connected to the needs of the district.”
Two years ago when Oberstar bested Mike Cummins by 35 percentage points, only $23,214 of the $1.9 million he raised came from individual donors in the 8th District.
Schadl also noted that in the last fundraising quarter, the Oberstar campaign received 20 donations of $200 or less — those not required to be individually reported to the FEC.
Cravaack brought in more than 600 donations of $200 or less during the same time period, countered campaign spokesman Kyler Nerison.
Nerison said the campaign has raised more than $300,000.
“It shows enthusiasm for Chip Cravaack and new representation in the district,” Nerison said.