Illinois Senator and rising Democratic star Barack Obama is the latest in a series of big name Democrats to raise money for Amy Klobuchar's senate campaign. Former President Bill Clinton was here in September and 2004 vice presidential candidate John Edwards rallied with Klobuchar in August, just to name a couple.
It's more evidence of the Minnesota race's national significance, for a senate seat that could carry a record pricetag.
"You basically figure a winning candidate is going to have to spend somewhere between $12 million and $15 million to be successful," Hamline University's David Schultz told KARE-TV Monday.
The Obama event was closed to the news media but Klobuchar's campaign described the room at the Minneapolis Club as "packed" with supporters who paid $250 each for a seat at the fundraising luncheon.
"These are lots of people who are probably in many cases going to give anyhow," remarked Schultz, "But having their picture next to a Clinton or a rising star in the democratic party is a very good way of sort of getting those wallets to open up a little bit quicker."
The Federal Election Commission's next deadline for campaign finance reports is October 15th. The most recent reports covered contributions and spending as of August 23rd.
At that time Congressman Mark Kennedy, the Republican candidate, led the money race. He had raised $7.9 million and had $3.4 million cash on hand compared to Klobuchar's $6.5 million in contributions and $2.9 million on hand.
"The difference between the two is not all that significant, considering that the candidates combined are going to spend $25-30 million on this race. Another $10-15 million will be spent by outside groups," predicted Schultz.
Klobuchar had the edge in donations by individuals, with $5.7 million over Kennedy's $5.3 million. Kennedy overcame that with $1.8 million from PACS versus only $595,000 from PACS for Klobuchar.
"It's more typical of incumbents to do better among political action committees," says Schultz.
"They're already in offices. PACS are going to give more heavily to people who are already here."
In 2002 the senate candidates combined for about $25 million in spending, with Republican Norm Coleman defeating Walter Mondale who stepped in at the last minute to replace Senator Paul Wellstone after he died in a plane crash. That race was relatively inexpensive because neither Coleman nor Wellstone faced significant opposition in the primaries.
In 2000 a hotly contested Democratic primary between attorney Michael Ceresi and the eventual winner Mark Dayton drove the total cost of that senate seat to nearly $30 million.
Republican strategist Mary Matalin is among those who've stumped for Kennedy and help fill his coffers with fundraisers here in the Twin Cities. President Bush has also helped Kennedy grow his campaign war chest.
He hasn't been featured prominently lately, though. Analyst Steve Smith says that as the news from Washington worsens, he expects to see more Republicans distance themselves from the national party.
"Bob Woodward's new book lent additional credibility to the critics of the Bush administrations Iraq policy," Smith told KARE-TV last week.
"And now the Mark Foley scandal is making some Americans think they’d like to see a change in Washington. All of that works to the out party’s favor and that’s the Democrats this year."
But if Monday's money making event at the Minneapolis Club means anything it's that nobody's taking this Senate race for granted.
The parade of names continues Tuesday. Mark Kennedy is hosting a rally in Woodbury feature six first-term Senators including Coleman, John Thune of South Dakota, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Richard Burr of North Carolina, David Vitter of Lousiana and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
Ohio Senator Max Cleland is in Minnesota on behalf of Democrats including Klobuchar Tuesday. And Hillary Clinton comes to town next week.
By John Croman, KARE 11 News.
Copyright KARE-TV 2006