Democrats outspent GOP 2-1 in failed bid to take Legislature

Published 3:16 pm Wednesday, February 3, 2021

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ST. PAUL — Democrats outspent Republicans more than 2-to-1 in the battle for control of the Minnesota Legislature but came up short.

Overall, Democratic candidates and outside groups spent more than $16 million in their unsuccessful attempt to retake control of the Senate from Republicans, who spent just $7.7 million defending their one-vote majority, according to campaign spending reports released Tuesday, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

Democrats hoped to hit the trifecta of controlling both chambers of the Legislature and the governor’s office. They failed to achieve that goal as Republicans down the ballot largely outperformed Donald Trump, who lost the presidential race in Minnesota to Joe Biden by 7 percentage points.

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“Money doesn’t guarantee success at all,” Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin told the Star Tribune. He described the 2020 outcome as a “mixed bag,” in part because Democrats limited their voter outreach to digital efforts, calls and texts because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They skipped the door-knocking that leaders described as critical — which the GOP continued.

Democrats kept their majority in the Minnesota House, but lost five seats despite spending $9.1 million to $4.5 million for the GOP.

“Despite being massively outspent, we held every Republican seat, picked up seats in the suburbs, knocked off longtime Democrat incumbents, and made historic gains on the Iron Range,” House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt told the Star Tribune.

Most spending on legislative races didn’t come from the candidates themselves, who are subject to fairly strict campaign finance regulations, but from political parties and interest groups.