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Coleman, Wellstone in neck-and-neck money race too
By Mark Zdechlik
Minnesota Public Radio
July 16, 2002


Minnesota's Democratic and Republican U.S. Senate candidates raised several million dollars during the second quarter of the year. Incumbent DFLer Paul Wellstone took in nearly $2 million, Republican challenger Norm Coleman gathered more than $1.7 million. Both campaigns say they're pleased with the pace of their fundraising. Coleman says he needs all the money he can get to keep up with Wellstone. Wellstone says his fundraising is more appropriate than Coleman's because he says most of his money is coming from relatively small contributions.

According to news releases issued by the Wellstone and Coleman campaigns, Wellstone ended the second quarter with about $2.5 million on hand. On June 30 Coleman had $1.8 million in his campaign war chest, trimming what had been Wellstone's almost $1 million lead at the end of the first quarter to about $700,000.

So far, Wellstone has raised about $7.5 million in the campaign; Coleman has brought in $5.5 million.

Other than the cash on hand and campaign contribution running total, Coleman released no specifics about his second-quarter fundraising and spending.

According to summary information in Wellstone's Federal Election Commission report, about $165,000 of the almost $2 million he raised in the second quarter came from political action committees. The report synopsis also shows Wellstone spent more than $2 million during the second quarter.

Wellstone says he's pleased with the progress his campaign has made in attracting contributions, particularly because he's getting relatively small amounts from a very large number of people. In all, more than 80,000 people have sent money to help Wellstone.

"Much more of mine comes from smaller contributors -- comes from regular people. That's the way it should be. This may be unusual. I'm not sure that many people in any Senate race in the country raise money this way, but I think... if you have to raise it, in the absence of having a much better system of financing, this is the way to do it," Wellstone said.

Wellstone says his approach to fundraising leaves him broadly accountable to voters, and he criticizes the Coleman campaign for relying on fewer people to make much larger contributions.

"I just simply don't represent the top one percent or all those big economic interests. I represent the majority of people in the state and therefore that's what our fundraising reflects," according to Wellstone.

Much more information about the Wellstone's and Coleman's second quarter fund raising will become available through the FEC in the coming weeks.

Although Coleman provided no information about the source of his contributions, he says he's doing what he has to to stay competitive.

"Our goal is to simply not get overwhelmed by the money that Sen. Wellstone raises," Coleman said.

Coleman says taken a whole, there is little purity in the money going into the effort to re-elect Wellstone. Coleman cites soft money and independent expenditures, such as the recently aired Sierra Club television commercials (Listen).

"He's got to look in the mirror," said Coleman. "He has spent over $1 million of big corporate dollars from ads that have been financed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. That's big pharmacy, that's big oil and that's WorldCom and all those folks have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the national party, and Wellstone has essentially run his campaign -- a big chunk of it -- with that money."

The Minnesota Independence Party's endorsed candidate for Senate, Jim Moore, says he raised no money during the second quarter and is only now beginning to take contributions.

Ed McGaa, the Green Party Senate candidate, did not return telephone inquiries into his second quarter fundraising.

For months, political analysts have predicted spending in the Senate race could top $20 million.

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