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Kline boasts $1.1 million campaign war chest

The congressional fundraising race for 2014 is well underway with Minnesota incumbents enjoying sizable cash advantages over their opponents.

Among the top fundraisers is 2nd District Republican Rep. John Kline, who raised more than $740,000 between Jan. 1 and June 30, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission. He has $1.1 million in the bank.

By comparison, his DFL opponent, former state Rep. Mike Obermueller, raised nearly $131,000 and has a little more than $93,000 in cash-on-hand. Republican challenger David Gerson raised $23,000 and has $5,350 in the bank. Another DFL challenger, Thomas Craft, announced his candidacy after the July quarterly fundraising deadline.

Hamline University law professor David Schultz, an expert in campaign finance, said Kline's strong showing isn't surprising given that he is an incumbent, a member of the majority party and chairs the powerful House Education and the Workforce Committee. It also sends a strong message heading into the 2014 election.

"He is doing the exact strategy you want to do as an incumbent — raise a ton of money and scare everybody off, and he is probably doing that, which means it will probably be hard for the challengers — no matter how good they may or may not be — to raise a credible campaign," Schultz said.


Obermueller for Congress said in a statement that the vast majority of his donations came from individuals living in Minnesota while Kline's fundraising was "dominated by corporate PACs."

Obermueller added in a statement that he is "proud to have earned the support of thousands of supporters across the 2nd Congressional District, and that support will only build as we kick the campaign into high gear."

Kline and Gerson's campaigns did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment.

While fundraising in the 2nd District is off to a fast start, it's a different story in the 1st Congressional District. DFL Congressman Tim Walz raised more than $303,000 and had less than $174,000 in the bank. His Republican challenger, Rochester state Rep. Mike Benson, did not file a campaign report with the Federal Elections Commission because his campaign did not raise or spend more than $5,000 as of June 30.

Benson said he made his campaign announcement late in June and held off on fundraising intentionally so as to give himself a full quarter to raise funds before having to report the numbers. He said he will be working hard between now and the end of the year to build up his campaign war chest.

"By the end of the year, I'd like a quarter of a million in the bank," he said.

In a statement, Tim Walz for U.S. Congress said the congressman raised more this quarter than he did for the same midterm quarter in 2009, the last non-presidential election cycle.

"Tim Walz is in a strong position to win heading into 2014 due his overwhelming grassroots support from folks across southern Minnesota and his work standing up for veterans, farmers and hard-working, middle class families," according to the statement.


First-term DFL Sen. Al Franken has raised $1.9 million towards his re-election bid and has $2 million in cash-on-hand. Republican challenger Mike McFadden reported having raised nearly $765,000 and having more than $741,000 in the bank. State Rep. Jim Abeler, who announced he was running against Franken last month, has not filed a campaign finance report.

Schultz said McFadden's fundraising total is "quite good" given he only had one month to raise it. Still, he said a challenger hoping to knock off Franken faces an uphill climb.

Franken "has an approval rating over 50 percent," he said, "and the National Republican Senatorial Committee doesn't seem to be keying in on him as a race where they are going to be putting their money."

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