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Doran leads money race in governor's race; Senate fundraising at breakneck pace

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Kelly Doran reported raising a mere $4,700 since entering the race in September. Doran switched to the governor's race after a short-lived campaign for U.S. Senate. (MPR file photo)

St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) DFL candidate Kelly Doran leads the money chase in the Minnesota governor's race, thanks mainly to his own loans. Doran, a wealthy shopping center developer, loaned his campaign $1.85 million, according to campaign finance reports Tuesday.

He reported raising a mere $4,700 since entering the race in September. Doran switched to the governor's race after a short-lived campaign for U.S. Senate.

"Money alone is not going to guarantee any kind of electoral success, but money will get you into the game," said Dan Hoffrening, chairman of the St. Olaf College political science department.

State Sen. Steve Kelley, also a DFLer, raised more than $250,000. Two other Democrats, state Sen. Becky Lourey and Attorney General Mike Hatch, and Independence Party candidate Peter Hutchinson, were expected to file reports later Tuesday.

GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty reported raising more than $800,000 in 2005. That left him with $721,000 in the bank after he paid his bills.

The candidates should have an easier time building bigger bankrolls in 2006. In 2005, they worked under a $500-per-contributor limit; that rose to $2,000 this year. In the race for the seat of Sen. Mark Dayton, GOP candidate Mark Kennedy raised more than double the money that DFL front-runner Amy Klobuchar did in the last quarter of 2005, widening his financial advantage in the race. Kennedy raised $1.5 million during the period, thanks largely to a President Bush fundraiser in December that netted $1 million. Klobuchar raised $700,000 in the same period.

As of Dec. 31, Kennedy, a Minnesota congressman, had $2.65 million in the bank, compared to $1.73 million for Klobuchar, the Hennepin County prosecutor.

It was the second straight quarter that Kennedy out-raised Klobuchar. He had trailed Klobuchar in cash on hand on June 30.

Overall, Kennedy raised $3.65 million last year, compared to $2.5 million for Klobuchar.

A second DFL candidate, Ford Bell, raised $231,000 in the fourth quarter and $466,000 for the year. He had $237,000 in the bank as of Dec. 31. Klobuchar and Bell released their figures on Tuesday, the filing deadline, while Kennedy released his on Monday.

Patty Wetterling, who dropped out of the race a couple of weeks ago, did not release her year-end Senate figures on Tuesday.

Joe Peschek, a political science professor at Hamline University, said he wouldn't read too much into Kennedy's advantage at this point.

"We need to wait to see if a substantial gap maintains itself," he said. "The impact of Patty Wetterling dropping out of the race might make potential donors open their wallets and purses to Klobuchar."

Democrats are still waiting to see whether wealthy trial attorney Mike Ciresi, a 2000 Senate candidate, will enter the race. Ciresi, who is expected to announce his plans this week, did not return phone messages Tuesday.

In the last Minnesota Senate race in 2002, Sen. Paul Wellstone, his replacement Walter Mondale, and Republican challenger Norm Coleman combined to spend more than $24 million. This year's race is also expected to be an expensive one.

Meanwhile, in the race to fill Kennedy's seat in the 6th Congressional District, Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg raised more than $127,000 in the fourth quarter and had $185,000 in the bank.

Republican candidates in that race kept pretty close to each other. State Sen. Michele Bachmann raised $105,000 in the period, state Rep. Jim Knoblach pulled in about $100,000, and state Rep. Phil Krinkie collected about $80,000.

But Krinkie ended the year with an edge in cash: $266,000, compared with $237,000 for Knoblach and $210,000 for Bachmann. St. Cloud executive Jay Esmay, another Republican candidate, collected $11,300 and finished the year with $26,750.

In the 2nd District, incumbent GOP Rep. John Kline easily outpaced Democratic challenger Colleen Rowley, a former FBI agent. Kline raised more than $180,000 in the quarter to end the year with $465,000, while Rowley collected just under $90,000 and had $84,000 on hand.

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