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Republican candidate for governor Tim Pawlenty has taken the lead in this year's money race. Among the four major party gubernatorial endorsees, Pawlenty has the most cash-on-hand as of last week. And in just over a month, Independence Party candidate Tim Penny has surged into second place ahead of DFLer Roger Moe. The Green Party's Ken Pentel rounds out the list.
GOP contender Tim Pawlenty has raised just under $1 million since the beginning of the year, putting him at the top of the financial pack among the leading gubernatorial candidates.
Even after an expensive endorsement battle with fellow Republican Brian Sullivan and after accounting for outstanding debts, Pawlenty ended the reporting period with just over $200,000.
Spokesman Peter Hong says the campaign is pleased with its fund-raising success. He says Pawlenty now wants to concentrate on delivering his message to voters.
"Money is just another element of a campaign. It obviously is a way of being able to pay for means of being able to communicate your message. But ultimately, what's important in a campaign is your message and your ability to communicate that to people and to tell people why you are the best choice for governor," according to Hong.
Pawlenty can expect another $400,000 in public subsidies to phase in following next month's primary election, in which he's heavily favored over challenger Leslie Davis. Pawlenty, like his opponents, has agreed to abide by a roughly $2 million spending limit in order to capture the public subsidy.
DFLer Roger Moe has raised the second largest total: roughly $725,000. But Moe, like Pawlenty, faced an endorsement challenge and has spent freely on his campaign. Despite finishing second in fundraising, he ends the period in third place with just under $125,000 on hand after deducting debts.
New campaign manager Bill Harper says he was brought in, in part, to rein in the spending. He says he'll discontinue, for instance, a popular but expensive stock car that Moe has used in parades to attract attention.
"We've spent far too much money. My job as the new campaign manager is to tighten our belts, give this campaign focus and discipline, and get us ready to win on Nov. 5th," said Harper.
Moe also can expect a sizeable public contribution if, as anticipated, he defeats challenger Ole Savior in next month's primary. The DFLer is also entitled to roughly $400,000 for agreeing to spending limits.
Independence Party endorsee Tim Penny's financial statement may hold the biggest surprise among the major candidates. Penny announced his candidacy in late June, well after the other contenders. The camp so far has raised nearly $160,000 and has most of that on-hand -- more than the Moe campaign.
Spokesman David Ruth says that demonstrates the campaign's lean, efficient style. And he says it shows widespread support for a candidacy with such a late start.
"We're not taking PAC money. We don't have a big campaign money coming in. But we've only been doing this for five weeks. And that's pretty amazing. And if you look at the amount of contributors giving $50 or less, that's three-quarters of where we received our money. So I think it's pretty impressive," said Ruth.
The IP candidate is entitled to nearly $300,000 in public subsidies. Penny faces a challenge from Bill Dahn in the September primary. Green Party endorsee Ken Pentel finds himself at the bottom of the financial ladder. Pentel has raised approximately $75,000 and has spent most of that. But spokeswoman Beth Backen says that's a substantial improvement over the 1998 race when the Greens were still a minor party.
"This new territory for us. This is a big campaign for us. And I think he's doing well. And we've reached a lot of people. That's really helping our campaign. It's helping us get the word out, just letting people know that they can participate in this process as individuals," according to Backen.
Pentel faces a primary challenge from candidate Richard Klatte. The Green nominee can expect roughly $240,000 in public subisdies.More from MPR