Minnesota governor's race: Walz maintains cash lead on Jensen

Minnesota DFL Gov. Tim Walz has nearly nine times as much cash in his campaign bank account than Republican rival Dr. Scott Jensen, giving Democrats an advantage as they seek to continue their long winning streak in statewide elections.

Republicans countered that they have the political momentum in this fall's midterm, predicting that their message around high inflation, crime concerns, and President Joe Biden's unpopularity can overcome the Democrats' money lead.

Walz reported $4.98 million on hand as of July 18, compared with Jensen's $580,000. Walz has widened his lead this summer, raising $871,000 in the seven-week period that ended July 18 versus $544,000 for Jensen over the same period.

"Does it matter? It matters a whole lot because Walz can now start to run TV ads months before the election," said Larry Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political science professor. "He can begin to lay down a positive, strong message for himself that Jensen is unable to do because he doesn’t have the funds to go up on TV."

Walz began drawing down his war chest just after the reporting period ended by booking $320,000 in ads across the Twin Cities television stations.

The first-term governor's campaign has also reserved more than $2 million of ad time after Labor Day. Those expenses will be reflected in later reports, drawing down Walz's reserves.

Jensen started airing radio ads in July to the tune of $240,000, expenses that he reported in the current period. Jensen has not reserved time on television.

Republican groups can close Walz's money advantage quickly by funneling money into ads that attack the incumbent over inflation and crime data. The outside groups have not yet signaled plans to enter the race.

Attorney General 

The DFL incumbent also had a cash lead in the attorney general's race, which is expected to be tight this fall. DFL Attorney General Keith Ellison reported $572,000 in his campaign bank account, compared with $113,000 for Republican-endorsed candidate Jim Schultz.

But Schultz has nearly matched Ellison's fundraising over the most recent seven weeks, raising $130,000 to Ellison's $147,000 for Ellison.

Before facing Ellison, Schultz first has to face the GOP's 2018 nominee, Doug Wardlow, in the primary. Wardlow was outraising Schultz earlier in the year but saw his fundraising dry up after losing the GOP endorsement to Schultz in mid-May.

Wardlow has scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. Wednesday for a "very important announcement." His campaign did not provide additional details about Wardlow's future in the race.