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March 25, 2004
Minnesota Soft Money Goes to Democrats

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune notes that the amount of "soft" money spent in 2002 put Minnesota fourth nationwide, coming in behind only Florida, New Jersey, and California, despite being ranked 21st in population in the US:

The Minnesota DFL and Republican parties and affiliated organizations pulled in just under $40 million, the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity found. Only Florida, New Jersey and California state parties pulled in more.

The report's author, Derek Willis, noted that Minnesota had two prominent statewide races in 2002 - for governor and the U.S. Senate. ... The study found that DFL and affiliated groups raised $22.7 million in the 2001-02 election cycle, while the state Republican Party and affiliated groups pulled in $17 million. The money went toward things like voter registration efforts and advertisements.

Most of the state party money came from national parties in the form of ``soft money,'' the large, unregulated contributions that have since been banned by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

The final numbers don't really tell the whole story. The largest soft-money contributor was the Norm Coleman Leadership Committee, which held a number of fundraisers for the Republicans and wound up giving $807,000. But the next eight on the list all went to the DFL:

-American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, $727,000 to Democrats

-Service Employees International Union, $382,000 to Democrats

-John & Sage Cowles, $233,600, all but $5,000 to Democrats

-International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, $202,000 to Democrats

-Laborers' International Union of North America, $198,000 to Democrats

-Key Investments Inc., $171,000 to Democrats

-Vance Opperman, $171,000 to Democrats

-Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., $150,000 to Democrats

The Democrats (called the DFL here, for Democrats-Farmers-Laborers) have always had a big party machine here in Minnesota, and for decades controlled state politics. The DFL still controls the state Senate, but their control has eroded, and now the Republicans control the state House and the governor's office. It's not for lack of spending, as the figures demonstrate; the $5.7 million edge was huge in 2002, especially for a state with only five million people. It's not for lack of support from unions, either; over a million dollars came from just the two unions that represent state and federal workers (AFSCME and SEIU).

The DFL's money couldn't save them from the DFL's message, which was higher taxes, more government control, and more intrusiveness in business and the market. They ran on the ridiculous notion that canceling a large increase in government spending amounted to "drastic cuts" in social services, preferring scare tactics rather than responsible efforts to get control over a state budget that had ballooned during the past decade. Pawlenty and the Republicans argued that the state's budget woes could be resolved by holding the line on state spending -- and so far, they've been proven right.

In short, Minnesota voters grew up, while the DFL didn't. All the money in the world can't save them from themselves.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 25, 2004 12:32 PM

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