GOP fundraising lags Democrats in Minnesota governor’s race

ST. PAUL (AP) — Democratic candidates for Minnesota governor are crushing their Republican opponents in the fundraising race, a signal GOP donors may be waiting to see whether former Gov. Tim Pawlenty decides to seek his old job.

According to fundraising reports released Thursday, top Democratic candidates ended 2017 with a hefty cash advantage compared to lackluster totals across the GOP field. Rep. Tim Walz led Democrats, raising $1.1 million and entering 2018 with nearly $500,000 still in the bank. The top Republican was 2014 nominee Jeff Johnson, who brought in just $259,000 last year, saving $180,000 to start 2018.

Altogether, six major Republican candidates for governor, including two who dropped out of the race last month, raised just $597,000 in 2017. That’s less than the individual haul of former St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who collected the second most among Democrats. For every dollar a Republican candidate banked in 2017, Democrats raised $4.75.

The wide-open race to replace Gov. Mark Dayton makes those dollars critical as candidates try to raise their profiles and start building the campaign apparatus necessary to win votes. Republican activists and campaign operatives chalk up the GOP’s weak fundraising to one factor: Pawlenty’s shadow over the race.