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With $4.1M, Walz holds significant fundraising advantage over GOP challengers

Fundraising numbers for the first quarter of 2022 were released by the state Campaign Finance Board on Friday, April 15. They offer an early look into where candidates stand in the contest for governor and other races. Minnesota candidates are required by law to submit regular reports on fundraising during election years.

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Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz, left, and Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan, right, speak with reporters Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, at the Capitol in St. Paul.
Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service

ST. PAUL — With more than $4.1 million on hand, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz holds a significant fundraising advantage over his Republican challengers in the 2022 election for the state’s highest office.

Candidates vying for the Republican nomination for Minnesota governor raised about $1.1 million combined during the first three months of 2022. While that’s slightly higher than the $1 million or so Walz raised in the same period, they remain far behind in reserves.

Fundraising numbers for the first quarter of 2022 were released by the state Campaign Finance Board on Friday, April 15. They offer an early look into where candidates stand in the contest for governor and other races. Minnesota candidates are required by law to submit regular reports on fundraising during election years.

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Sen. Paul Gazelka talks to the Duluth News Tribune at the Cast Iron Grill about running for governor on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Hermantown. On Sept. 8, 2021, Gazelka resigned as Senate Majority Leader and announced his bid for governor to attempt to defeat incumbent Gov. Tim Walz. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Republican front-runners Sen. Paul Gazelka, a north-central Minnesota Republican running on a tough-on-crime platform, and Dr. Scott Jensen, a former state senator campaigning on his opposition to COVID-19 restrictions, remain the leaders in overall fundraising among challengers. Jensen reported more than $774,000 on hand in his most recent report. Meanwhile, Gazelka had more than $406,000.

In the first three months of 2022, however, businessman and political outsider Kendall Qualls brought in $467,000 — more than any other candidate during that time period, and accounting for more than 40% of fundraising on the Republican side of the race for governor so far in 2022.

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Top 5 fundraisers for Governor by cash on hand

CandidateQ1 Money RaisedExpendituresCash-on-hand
Gov. Tim Walz (DFL)$1M$507.3K$4.1M
Dr. Scott Jensen (R)$256.4K$305.8K$774.4K
Sen. Paul Gazelka (R)$99.4K$153.5K$406.2K
Kendall Qualls (R)$467.4K$299.1K$168.3K
Richard Stanek (R)$149K$108.9K$40.2K

Republicans are spending significantly more on their campaigns than Walz as the state GOP party endorsement convention approaches May 13-14 in Rochester. In the past three months, the crowded field of Republican candidates for governor has spent a total of $1.1 million.

The incumbent Walz does not have any challengers within his Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. The DFL endorsement convention will also be in Rochester and is May 20-22.

Former Twin Cities media personality and Perham, Minnesota, native Cory Hepola, who is running for governor under 2020 presidential hopeful Andrew Yang's Forward Party, raised $31,000 in the first quarter of 2022. He has about $25,000 on hand.

The Minnesota primary election is Aug. 9. The general election is Nov. 8.

Other statewide offices

The five Republicans vying for their party's nomination in the race against incumbent DFL Attorney General Keith Ellison have raised about $942,000 against Ellison's roughly $340,000. Much of that comes from candidate Dennis Smith taking out a $500,000 loan for his campaign this past quarter, according to his disclosure forms.

In addition to Smith, private practice attorney Jim Schultz, 2018 attorney general candidate and MyPillow general counsel Doug Wardlow, former Stillwater Judge Tad Jude, and criminal defense attorney Lynne Torgerson are seeking the Republican nomination. Former Minnesota Congressman Ellison was elected attorney general in 2018.

Incumbent Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon has close to 562,000 cash on hand for his reelection campaign. His two challengers for the office that oversees state elections have only raised a combined $74,000. Republican challenger Kim Crockett accounts for $45,000 of that amount. Secretary of state elections have garnered more attention this year following widespread unfounded claims of fraud in the 2020 elections.

The race for state auditor has not seen large amounts of fundraising. Incumbent Julie Blaha has about $24,500 on hand and her closest GOP challenger Ryan Wilson has about $21,308.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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