Minnesota Senate 4 candidates raised nearly $80,000 for their campaign war chests, according to pre-election reports.
But what stands out is that Republican John Carlson, the eventual winner, raised $29,500 from individual contributions of no more than $100 each.
Carlson made it a cornerstone of his campaign not to accept money from lobbyists, special interests or political parties, and only individual contributions of $100 or less from residents of the district.
On Tuesday, Carlson defeated first-term Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, by a margin of 54.5 percent to 45.3 percent.
Pre-election spending reports were due Oct. 25 to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.
Carlson first said he would also not accept public subsidies for his campaign, which limits the amount a candidate can raise and spend, but later did accept the public money, as did Olson.
Carlson's report shows $29,456 in individual contributions and $10,536 in public subsidy for a fundraising total of $39,992.
Olson reported $38,720 in total cash contributions, with $15,558 from individual contributions, $350 from lobbyists, $4,168 from political party sources, $8,075 from political action committees and $10,569 in public subsidy.
Olson's report does not include $500 received from Friends of DFL Women after her report was filed.
Special interest donors include:
Bemidji Central Labor Body AFL-CIO Political Fund, Carpenters Local 1644 PAC, Committee of Nine PAC, Committee of Thirteen Legislative Fund, Education Minnesota PAC, Grand Portage PAC, IBEW Minnesota State Council PAC, Inter Faculty Organization Lobby Fund, Leeech Lake PAC, Mah Mah Wi No Min Fund, MAPE PAC, Minnesota AFL-CIO,
Minnesota Dental PAC, Minnesota Pipe Trades Association PAC Fund, Minnesota Firefighters Relief Association Political Fund, Minneapolis Police Relief Association, Minneapolis Retired Police Association Political Fund, Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 11 PAC, Public Employees Pension Service Association Political Fund, Rural Electric PAC, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux, St. Paul Pipefitters Local 455 PAC and TRIAL-PAC.
Most of the contributions ranged from $250 to $500.
Of Olson's individual contributors, those giving over $100 are named in the report, with a total of $4,055. Those giving $100 or less totaled $11,528.
All of Carlson's nearly $30,000 in individual contributions were $100 or less, so no donors are named in the report. During the campaign, Carlson offered to make public a list of the donors with names redacted to show only ZIP codes in the district.
"I think people appreciated our stance on not taking money from special interest groups, and not more than $100 and not outside the district," Carlson said. "They bought into that idea."
People had "buy into the campaign," he said with each contribution, whether it was $20 or $100. "I am calling it a success."
He'll continue that with perhaps one exception.
"The only thing I might do differently next time is that after I have been down there (St. Paul) for two years, you represent your district but you also make decisions for the whole state, and I think I would probably broaden that and allow people across the state, if they want to give $20, whatever, they'd be welcome to do that," Carlson said.
But he would still cap individual contributions at $100 and not accept special interest group funding. "I firmly believe that's the right way to go. It keeps my integrity."
Olson said she did something differently this year. Most special interest groups with money to donate ask candidates to fill out a questionnaire on issues of importance to that group. This year, she didn't fill out any.
"There's something about the whole questionnaire process that really bothers me," she said. "It feels like people want you to pledge ahead of time to support positions of particular special interest groups under any circumstances without knowing what the facts are going to be, without knowing what the money's going to be."
There's a perception that if the candidate answers the questions favorably, a check follows,
"It's almost like you're exchanging your independence, exchanging your ability to listen to voters, for pledging to these special interest groups for their support," Olson said.
The only questionnaire she did fill out was the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce's survey which was posted online. "That, to me, looked like they were looking more for general information and not like they were promoting an agenda."
Olson reported $32,668 in expenses. She started the year with $11,663 in the bank, and had a cash balance of $18,164 on Oct. 18, with $4,981 in loans payable.
Carlson reported $38, 383 in total expenses, with a cash balance of $1,609.
Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji, who won Tuesday's election, reported raising $20,191, with $6,029 from individual contributions, $475 from lobbyists, $3,300 from political parties and $5,550 from special interests. He received $4,834 in public subsidy.
He started the year with a $3,208 balance and had $3,133 cash on hand Oct. 18. He reported $20,268 in expenses.
Republican challenger Richard Lehmann reported raising $12,603, with $5,380 in individual contributions, $1.000 from political party sources, $1,200 from special interests. He also received $4,009 in public subsidy.
Lehmann reported expenses of $8,420 and had cash on hand of $4,183 on Oct. 18. He reported loans payable at $1,015.
Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, who won re-election Tuesday, started the year with $22,239 in the bank. He then raised $32,114 with $4,260 from individual contributions, $2,875 from lobbyists, $738 from political parties and $9,950 from special interests. He received $9,291 in public subsidy.
He reported expenses of 429,225 of which $10,750 was given to the Senate 2 DFL. He had cash on hand of $25,128 on Oct. 18.
His Republican challenger, Dennis Moser of Clearbrook, reported raising $13,973, with $10,991 in individual contributions and $2,935 from political party sources. He did not accept public financing.
Moser reported $9,705 in expenses, with a cash balance of $4,568 on Oct. 18.
Republican Dave Hancock of Bemidji, who won the House 2B seat, reported raising $21,993, which includes $8,595 in cash contributions from individuals and 7,193 in in-kind services from individuals, $100 from special interests and $2,105 from political party sourcews. He did not accept public financing.
Hancock reported $19,305 in expenses and a cash balance of $2,688 on Oct. 18. He also has $4,000 in loans payable.
Rep. Brita Sailer, DFL-Park Rapids, whom Hancock defeated, started the year with $11,231 in the bank. She reported raising 26,905 in cash contributions, with $13,309 from individual contributions, $450 from lobbyists, $3,228 from political party sources and $5,200 from special interests. She received $4,723 from public subsidies.
The report does not include donations of $500 from the Friends of DFL Women and $750 from the Hubbard County DFL after the report was filed.
She reported spending of $18,647 and had a cash balance of $19,543 on Oct. 18.
Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, who won re-election to his House 4B seat, started the year with $5,333 in the bank. He reported raising $19,377, with $5,499 in individual contributions, $300 from lobbyists, $5,950 from special interests and $2,600 from political party sources. He received $5,037 in public subsidies.
He reported expenses of $18,665 and cash on hand of $6,045 on Oct. 18. He contributed $500 to other candidates.
His DFL opponent, Meg Bye of Pequot Lakes, had $602 to start the year, as she also faced Howes in 2008. This year she raised $16,226, with $5,666 in individual contributions, $150 from lobbyists, $4,039 from political party sources and $1,350 from special interests. She received $5,021 in public subsidies.
The report does not include $750 from the Hubbard County DFL received after the report was filed.
Bye reported total expenses of $13,035 and cash on hand on Oct. 18 at $3,803.