Walz holds cash edge on Jensen in Minnesota governor's race

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz holds a wide cash advantage over presumptive Republican opponent Dr. Scott Jensen less than five months out from the November election.

Walz reported $4.46 million on hand at the end of May, nearly seven times more than Jensen's $663,000. Jensen had to spend heavily to lock up the Republican endorsement in May, while Walz faced no internal opposition for the DFL endorsement.

Jensen's fundraising picked up in the second half of May once he earned the GOP nod. Yet his $114,000 haul over that half-month period still trailed Walz's $188,000 collected over the same time, according to a FOX 9 analysis of campaign finance reports made public on Wednesday.

Jensen drew criticism from some Republican operatives for his campaign's decision to spend heavily during the GOP's two-day convention in Rochester last month. The campaign had by far the most significant advertising presence in the convention hall and held a block party-style event for delegates one evening.

Jensen's campaign spent about $100,000 on signs, banners, meeting space, food and beverage, entertainment, video production, hotel rooms and other convention-related expenses, his filing indicates.

Walz reported raising $788,000 in April and May to Jensen's $215,000 over the same two-month period.

Despite the cash differences, Walz's campaign has been wary. Democrats face headwinds during this fall's midterms, including President Joe Biden's unpopularity and inflation at a 40-year high.

A MinnPost/Change Research poll released Friday showed Walz with 42 percent support compared with Jensen's 40 percent, inside the poll's margin of error. Both campaigns immediately began fundraising off the narrow result.

But it's unclear whether outside groups see a tight race. National Republican groups have not reserved any television advertising space this fall on Jensen's behalf, and major DFL-aligned groups have not gone up with anti-Jensen spots. That has left the airwaves to Walz, who has reserved significant time on Twin Cities television stations after Labor Day.

Jensen's campaign finance reports show a $65,000 expenditure to publisher Koechel Peterson of Minneapolis for copies of Jensen's new book. Jensen’s campaign is giving away the book to anyone who makes a $25 campaign contribution.