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Last night, I received an email from Jim Kroger, an assistant professor in the Accounting & Business Law department at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Dr. Kroger had studied the campaign finance reports of the GOP gubernatorial candidates.

This post shouldn’t be interpreted as me expressing my preference for who runs against Gov. Dayton. This post is simply about Dr. Kroger’s studies.

Dr. Kroger’s spreadsheet, which doesn’t translate well into WordPress formatting, gives us some basic information. Specifically, it highlights the fundraising per week and the burn rate per week for each of the candidates. At this point, Marty Seifert has raised an average of $26,029 per week while spending $1,842 per week since entering the race in late November. By contrast, Scott Honour has raised an average of $14,142 per week while spending $14,132 per average week.

Kurt Zellers is raising $13,392 per week while spending $9,894 per week. He’s followed by Jeff Johnson, who is raising an average of $7,041 per week while spending an average of $2,091 per week, followed by Dave Thompson, who has raised an average of $4,559 per week while spending $2,673 per week.

Here are some of Dr. Kroger’s observations:

  1. Seifert’s average weekly individual cash contributions of $26,029 exceed Dayton’s average weekly individual cash contributions of $15,327 by $10,702. Presently, in Republican circles, one of the issues that is discussed is which candidate can raise enough money to be competitive against Dayton. Based on this analysis, which seeks to measure each candidate equally based on when they announced for governor, Seifert is by far the strongest fundraiser outperforming Honour by a margin of nearly 2 to 1.
  2. The average amount of cash burned per week by Zellers exceeds the average amount of cash burned per week by Dayton by 143%. The average amount of cash burned per week by Honour exceeds the average amount of cash burned per week by Dayton by 204% (more than double). In Republican circles it is often said that no candidate will be able to fundraise and spend more than Dayton. Based on how fast Zellers and Honour are blowing their cash and what they are burning it on, I would argue that both of their campaigns are wasteful and simply unsustainable on a long-term basis.
  3. Thompson ended the year with $50,283 cash on hand, but he also has unpaid bills of $28,235. This means that he essentially ended the year with approximately $20,000 cash on hand, which is the lowest next to Farnsworth. Given his monthly expenses, I would argue that Thompson’s campaign is either dead in the water or running on fumes. I suspect that his announcement of a running mate was the last gasp as he attempts to gain momentum and save what appears to be a sinking ship.
  4. Zellers has $44,300 or 11% of his total receipts coming from out-of-state; however, I discovered what may be a red flag issue. Zellers received $21,000 from 38 individuals in 8 states (Missouri, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois, Washington, DC, New Jersey, and Florida) and ALL 38 contributors listed Express Scripts, a mail-order pharmacy, as their employer. This raised a red flag in my mind. Is Express Scripts funneling money to Zellers through these individuals? What ties does Zellers have to Express Scripts? What will Express Scripts expect if he is elected? Is Express Scripts trying to skirt lobbyist regulations? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but it presents an interesting puzzle.
  5. Honour has $295,847 or 48-58% of his total receipts coming from out-of-state. It is 48% if you include his $101,000 loan to himself in total receipts and 58% if you exclude it. 189 of 368 total contributions to Honour’s campaign are from people outside of Minnesota and, in some cases, outside the United States (Singapore and London). 51% of all individuals contributing to Honour’s campaign are not Minnesotans. I counted 13 contributions from Beverly Hills, CA, 29 from Los Angeles, CA, and 16 from New York City. It appears that bankers, lawyers, and even an actress are the ones who think Honour would make a good governor. If you disregard the $295,847 that came from outside of Minnesota and the $101,000 loan that he gave himself then he only raised $217,919 from Minnesotans, which is less than both Johnson and Zellers. Further, the deep pockets that he tapped from outside of Minnesota often gave $4,000 so they cannot contribute again. I would argue both that Honour is not supported by the people of Minnesota and that his campaign is likely not sustainable due to fundraising concerns and wasteful spending. Having exhausted his out-of-state deep pockets and squandered the money, he must now look to the people of Minnesota or himself to fund his campaign. He ended the year with $14,251 on hand. I would argue that Honour’s campaign is more akin to the campaign of Farnsworth or Thompson and that Honour is nearly dead in the water or running on fumes.

Whether Dr. Kroger’s opinions hold up is subject to the test of time. Another thing that’ll require additional scrutiny is whether Marty Seifert can continue at his current fundraising pace. If he can, then he’ll be a formidable opponent for Gov. Dayton. Jeff Johnson’s figures aren’t gaudy but his burn rate is under control. That will matter over the course of a long campaign.

Each of these candidates would be a significant improvement over Gov. Dayton. It’s difficult to have faith in a politician who doesn’t know what’s in the bills he’s signed and negotiated.

Finally, tonight is precinct caucus night in Minnesota. If you want to shape this election, there’s no better place to be tonight than at your local precinct caucus. If you’ve never attended a precinct caucus, you’ll want to attend. It’s the best place to let your voice be heard. If you don’t know where your precinct caucus is being held, follow this link, then enter your zip code. It’s just that simple.

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