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PAC Dogs: Oberstar and Peterson Receive More than Half Their Money from Special Interests

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PAC contributions to Paulsen up 36 percent from 2008 cycle; contributions to Bachmann down 51.2 percent

While national and statewide media interest in Minnesota congressional fundraising has spiked during the last few weeks, what with the jaw-dropping contributions reeled in by Michele Bachmann and the eye-opening lack of funds raised in-district by Jim Oberstar, there are other fundraising trends bubbling beneath the surface.

Smart Politics finds special interest PAC money to Minnesota's eight congressional incumbents is down more than a half a million dollars this election cycle, or 10.4 percent, compared to the first seven quarters of the 2007-2008 campaign.

Still, Minnesota's two most influential members of Congress, Committee Chairmen Jim Oberstar and Collin Peterson, are collecting more than half of their fundraising through special interest money.

PAC Money Received in 2008 and 2010 Election Cycles by Minnesota U.S. Representatives

Candidate
District
2007-2008
2009-2010
% Change
Oberstar
MN-08
$1,018,589
$843,690
-17.2
Peterson
MN-07
$777,566
$833,000
+7.1
Paulsen
MN-03
$563,539
$766,468
+36.0
Kline
MN-02
$529,665
$587,610
+10.9
Walz
MN-01
$844,496
$627,071
-25.7
Bachmann
MN-06
$839,978
$410,062
-51.2
McCollum
MN-04
$334,680
$326,182
-2.5
Ellison
MN-05
$296,619
$268,841
-9.4
Average
 
$5,205,132
$4,662,924
-10.4
Note: Through September 30th of the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. FEC data compiled by Smart Politics.

Oberstar, who heads the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, leads the way with $843,690 in PAC receipts through the end of September.

While that is tops in the delegation, it is down 17.2 percent from this stage of the 2008 cycle, when the 18-term DFLer had notched over $1 million in PAC funds.

In each of the last two election cycles, PAC money was the largest source of Oberstar's campaign funds - 55.6 percent in 2008 and 52.0 percent in 2010.

Peterson, Chair of the Agriculture Committee, is next with $833,000 - up 7.1 percent from this stage of his 2008 campaign and just $10K shy of catching his colleague from the 8th CD.

Peterson by far raises the largest percentage of his campaign funds from special interests, with 78.6 percent of his 2010 fundraising coming from PACs (up from 73.1 percent at this stage in 2008).

Even though he is just a freshman in Congress, Erik Paulsen comes in at a close third with $766,468 in PAC money raised through September - up more than $200,000 from this point in his 2008 campaign, or 36.0 percent.

But perhaps the most interesting tale is the one told by Michele Bachmann's fundraising numbers.

Through September 2008, Bachmann had raised $839,978 from special interests, or just $4,500 less than the second most of the eight-member Gopher State delegation.

In the current cycle, PACs have only given $410,062 to Bachmann - down a whopping 51.2 percent - continuing a trend observed by Smart Politics a year ago.

Bachmann now rates just sixth in the delegation in PAC money raised in 2009-2010, ahead of only Betty McCollum ($326,182) and Keith Ellison ($268,841).

But Bachmann - who will eclipse $12 million this cycle before all is said and done - is hardly hurting from this huge dip in PAC support.

While PAC contributions constituted 35.6 percent of her funds at this stage of the campaign in 2008, only 4.3 percent of her fundraising this cycle comes from special interests.

Bachmann's DFL opponent, Tarryl Clark, relies almost twice as much on PAC funds, with her $314,608 in special interest money tallying 8.1 percent of her funds to date.

No other congressional challenger in the Gopher State has raised even $100,000 from PACs yet this cycle, with Randy Demmer the closest at $80,250 (13.2 percent).

Change in Percentage of Funds Raised from PACs During 2008 and 2010 Election Cycles by Minnesota U.S. Representatives

Candidate
District
% 2008
% 2010
Peterson
MN-07
73.1
78.6
Oberstar
MN-08
55.6
52.0
McCollum
MN-04
51.6
47.7
Kline
MN-02
50.7
43.0
Walz
MN-01
36.2
35.4
Paulsen
MN-03
25.2
32.0
Ellison
MN-05
21.7
22.9
Bachmann
MN-06
35.6
4.3
Note: Through September 30th of the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. FEC data compiled by Smart Politics.

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2 Comments


  • What about the outside money? We are seeing more special interests running their own ads as a way to exert influence, instead of giving directly to candidates. That could be one explanation on why PAC money is down.

    In Bachmann's case, she became less dependent on PAC money when she became more successful at raising more money from small individual donors. That makes the case for a fair elections system.

  • Oh my god! These politicians are playing with their money. If they really want the betterment of our society they must spent these money for us (common people) not for their campaign.

    When the country is suffering from economical problems these politicians are wasting their money for nothing. They only want the power. They are not for the people and not for the society.

  • Leave a comment


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    Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

    Political Crumbs

    Six for Thirteen

    Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


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