State gubernatorial candidates bring in cash

Mark Dayton leads the money race with $641,821 in 2009 contributions.

Mark Dayton, candidate for governor

Ian Larson

Mark Dayton, candidate for governor

Mackenzie Martin

Campaign finance reports from gubernatorial candidates released Tuesday already hint that this yearâÄôs race will become the most expensive in state history. Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, DFL, leads the money race with $641,821 in 2009 contributions, due in large part to a $570,000 loan from himself, according to his report. Dayton, a millionaire DaytonâÄôs department store heir, contributed nearly $12 million to his campaign to win re-election to his Senate seat in 2000. With about two dozen still in the running, candidates raised a combined total of nearly $3 million in 2009. Totals include contributions from individuals, lobbyists, political parties and political committees. Eric Ostermeier, author of the Humphrey Institute of Public AffairsâÄô Smart Politics blog, said this is an important time in the election season as candidates try to distinguish themselves within their parties. âÄúFundraising is very key at this point in time to demonstrate that you have financial supporters so the various party leaders and delegates will then start to line up and know that youâÄôre a serious candidate,âÄù Ostermeier said. See the graphic at left for the candidateâÄôs year-end totals in order of total amount raised in 2009.