Monday, May 22, 2006
$ession is Over
As always, remember to update your links: http://www.mncampaignreport.com is live!
What does the end of session mean for the many campaigns going on right now?
In a word, money.
According to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board, during legislative sessions, "Candidate committees and Legislative Caucuses may not accept contributions from political committees, political funds, or lobbyists during the regular legislative session." Ostensibly this rule is in place to prevent overt and undue influence over the legislative process by nefarious forces in the lobby.
But it's not just lobbyist money that candidates are missing out on during session. If you've ever spent time near a campaign, you know how important call time is. This is the time when the candidate hunkers down in a quiet office and makes lots and lots and lots of phone calls asking for money. This personal contact is key - the potential donor gets the feeling of personal connection to the process and the candidate, and tends to be more willing to part with a large sum of money than if approached by automated fundraising efforts.
This time of year thus opens itself up to political thrusts and parries. Accusations of impropriety will almost certainly be a standard feature of the next several months, as campaigns work hard to raise the money necessary to match their strategies. As one candidate for constitutional office told me in an interview, it's not necessarily how much money you've raised at this point in the game, but how you're spending it. In races with low spending limits (i.e., everything but Governor), keeping powder dry for the stretch run will be incredibly important.
As for the race for the corner office, have a look at the spending limits published by the CFB. A lot of the controls on spending in the gubernatorial race depend on the status of the primary, but take a look at that First-Time Candidate limit. I would tend to think this is what Kelly Doran was looking at in his abortive run for Governor - being able to drown his opponents with personal money in the primary, with an advantage for being a first-timer.