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Stauber sets pace in 8th District campaign fundraising

Congressional candidate Pete Stauber talks to supporters during the opening ceremony for his campaign office in Hermantown as wife Jodi listens in December 2017. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com

Republican Pete Stauber surpassed a quarter-million dollars in fundraising for the first quarter of 2018 in his bid for Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District seat, his campaign reported Thursday.

Pleased with the figure, the campaign beat the deadline to report first-quarter campaign earnings to the federal government by a few days. The deadline to report to the Federal Election Commission is Monday.

Stauber spokeswoman Caroline Tarwid said the number is “above $270K.”

“Team Stauber is very pleased with our strong Q1 numbers,” Tarwid said. “We are seeing great support in all 18 counties and real enthusiasm to get Pete to Washington. Our campaign is not slowing down, and these numbers prove that Pete has what it takes to win in November.”

Stauber’s was the second campaign to report its quarterly figure to the News Tribune among seven candidates in the running for the open 8th Congressional District seat in the November election. Jason Metsa, one of five Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidates in the race, raised more than $125,000 in the first quarter, his campaign reported in a news release this week.

“I am honored by the outpouring of support our campaign has received in just a few short weeks,” Metsa said, while citing labor unions, neighbors and other supporters. “This grassroots support is how we will hold the seat in November.”

The early war chest “makes clear he is ready to take on the challenge of facing Republican Pete Stauber in the fall,” the Metsa campaign said.

The Metsa campaign reported more than 370 individual contributions, while the Stauber camp said 85 percent of his contributions came from “small, grassroot donors.”  

Joe Radinovich, another DFL candidate, reported about $108,000 raised in the first quarter. His campaign said that’s from more than 1,000 donations, 85 percent from Minnesota.

“The strong start reflects 8th District voters’ enthusiasm for — and confidence in — Joe Radinovich’s ability to run an effective campaign and fight for them in Congress,” campaign spokeswoman Kristen McMullen said.

DFLer Michelle Lee said through a spokesperson that she would not release her fundraising numbers until Monday. The other DFLers — Kirsten Kennedy and Leah Phifer — had yet to report back to the News Tribune as of Thursday evening.

The five candidates vying for the DFL endorsement will meet in Duluth on Saturday for the much-anticipated 8th District DFL convention. The convention begins at 9 a.m. at the Holiday Inn in downtown Duluth.

MORE COVERAGE

8th District DFL Convention preview

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With his fundraising off-and-running and momentum building, Stauber appeared to be showing the benefits of announcing his campaign last summer. Together with $256,228 in the final quarter of 2017, Stauber has raised more than a half-million dollars in his bid to replace Rep. Rick Nolan. Nolan, DFL-Crosby, announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election.

Independence Party candidate Ray “Skip” Sandman earned all of $6,000 in his 2014 run at Congress. This time has been a different story — having notably switched parties from the Green Party.

“We aren’t going to go into specifics, but we will note that we are encouraged by the fact that we have already tripled what Skip raised during his entire 2014 race,” said Sandman spokesman Mike Kuitu. “Running as an independent is never easy. We understand it will be difficult to remain competitive financially with the two major party candidates. We may get outspent, but with a platform of policies that seriously addresses the people’s needs, and a candidate that will be the genuine voice of the people, it will take a lot less cash per vote for Skip to win than his competition.”

Following more than three decades of predictability with the late DFL icon Jim Oberstar in the seat, the 8th District has become one of the fiercest and most expensive races in the country since 2010. The 2016 race set a new bar; the Nolan-Stewart Mills election was the most expensive House race in the country, costing parties and donors about $22 million. In that race each of the candidates’ campaigns ended up raising more than $3 million, with the added and majority of money coming from the bottomless troughs of the national parties and political action committees.

The DFLers tackled the topic of campaign finance at their forum April 4 at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. The five candidates universally wanted to overturn the notion of corporate personhood — a court-won allowance through which corporations can funnel money into campaigns. A constitutional amendment would be required to overturn it.

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