Al Franken Outspends Norm Coleman In Senate Race
Campaign Ca$h Burns Hole In Stuart's Pocket
At the rate he's burning through campaign contributions, Al Franken's dot.com-esque Air America Radio tenure may appear downright thrifty by comparison. Why can't our friend Stuart hang on to a buck or two for any length of time?
With the latest fundraising totals for Minnesota's US Senate race now released to the public, mainstream media outlets have focused on the fact that Franken took in more money than incumbent Norm Coleman (R-MN). Thanks, Hollywood!
Buried in the coverage, however, is a more important piece of information: Coleman remains the cash leader because he knows how to hang on to his money, while Franken continues to blow his wad.
From the Star- Tribune's Kevin Diaz:
WASHINGTON - Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken raised $1.89 million over the past three months, topping Republican incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman, who reported $1.7 million in campaign fundraising over the same period, including an August fundraiser featuring President Bush.
Democratic hopefuls Mike Ciresi, Jim Cohen and Dick Franson have yet to announce their latest collections.
The new numbers, posted Thursday on the Internet, still show Coleman with the overall money lead, posting nearly $5 million in cash on hand, compared with $2.45 million for Franken.
But Franken, a comedian chasing money as well as political credibility, appears to be closing the gap.
Franken outpaced Coleman's campaign in the second quarter of this year as well, raising $1.9 million to Coleman's $1.5 million. But Franken also appears to be spending money at a more rapid clip. His remaining cash is less than half the $5.18 million he has raised so far this year.
It's fairly unusual for Senate incumbents to be outfundraised by their challengers, particularly challengers with no previous electoral experience. But Coleman said Franken's national profile makes him anything but a conventional challenger. "He's a comedian who's got a lot of contacts around this country," Coleman said. "It's difficult to compete with the checkbooks of the Hollywood elite."
What explains the difference in spending? For one thing, Coleman and Franken have both taken the unusual steps of running full page ads in the Star-Tribune before the primary election has even occurred, so it's not clear how one campaign has been more careful. We'll take a look at the breakdowns once their full quarterly reports are available at the Federal Election Commission's website.
And while Coleman happily discloses his number of in- state donors, Franken refuses to break them down that way:
Both campaigns have tried to emphasize their grass-roots givers. The Coleman campaign touted 16,000 Minnesota donors since the beginning of the year; Franken boasted 64,743 donors.
"Minnesotans identify with Norm's optimism, and his positive vision for the state, so it's no surprise that they choose to support him financially," said Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan.
Franken's campaign did not release a breakdown of its Minnesota donors. Instead, his campaign focused on its ability to surpass Coleman's fundraising, despite the help Coleman got from Bush.
Even worse, spending his war chest much too early has done little for Stuart's popularity:
Republicans gloated that while Franken burned more than $1 million in the second quarter, a recent Minnesota Poll gave him only a 27 percent favorable rating, compared with 52 percent for Coleman, who faces his first reelection test next year.
Anybody see a pattern here? We do: low talk radio ratings, weak favorability numbers in Minnesota. Wild spending sprees inside Air America Radio, little fiscal control while running for office.
STUART image: David A Lunde
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