Republicans in Minnesota have been complaining for years about being outspent by Democrats in Minnesota elections. Because the whining from Republicans has been so loud, I was surprised by the reaction to the spending spree by Compete Minnesota! in the race for governor.
Compete Minnesota! is promoting Republican candidate for governor, Scott Honour, but is independent of Honour’s campaign. Compete Minnesota! raised more money in first three months of 2014 than every other campaign for governor, except for Honour’s campaign.
The Democrats will again be well-funded in Minnesota this year and Governor Mark Dayton’s campaign has raised big money for his re-election efforts. For Republicans to compete in 2014, they need to have the resources to compete with the Democrats. it isn’t rocket science and the list of Republican campaigns that can compete with Dayton and his allies is really down to two campaigns.
Compete Minnesota! is the first organization to dedicate serious resources to back a Republican candidate in the primary election in Minnesota. Instead of complaining, the Republican candidates for governor that haven’t raised much money or don’t have an outside group like Compete Minnesota! should consider the viability of their candidacy.
It appears that only the supporters of Scott Honour have learned from the post-endorsement attacks from 2010 against Tom Emmer by outside groups and have a plan in place to respond. It would be smarter for Republicans to spend less time complaining about being outspent and do more to level the playing field. But sadly, complaining is easier.
To be blunt, the time has come for candidates and their staff to determine if they can even credibliy fund a campaign operation if they’re endorsed by the Republican Party of Minnesota. As I wrote last month, the biggest danger for Republicans is to believe that a truck, over-flowing with money, will arrive at the Republican Party of Minnesota’s State Convention later this month and will be given to the endorsed candidate for governor. It won’t happen.
There are simply too many Republican candidates for governor focused on an inter-mural party endorsement contest and not on the general election. The smartest move for Republicans would be to start coalescing behind the campaigns that have built the strongest campaign operations that can compete with the Democrats.
There was a time in politics, when a candidate made a decision about their ability to actually win, based on how much money the campaign had raised. Fundraising is a sign of organizational strength for a campaign and is a gauge to measure the electability of a candidate. Compete Minnesota! just raised the bar for supporters of other Republican gubernatorial candidates to match. If your supporters can’t match their efforts, it’s time to get out of the way.
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