For Franken, Coleman, the campaign trail takes big bucks

Al Franken has spent around $900,000 on his senate campaign as of Monday.

;WASHINGTON (AP) – Sen. Norm Coleman and DFL candidate Al Franken are spending a lot of money to raise a lot of money.

Campaign finance reports released Monday show that Franken’s campaign spent around $900,000 in the last reporting period on fundraising consultants,

telemarketing and other efforts aimed at raising money. That helped Franken pull in $1.9 million for the three-month period, which ended Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, Coleman, R-Minn., spent a little over $200,000 on similar expenses on his way to raising $1.7 million.

DFL candidate Mike Ciresi did not make his full report available Monday.

Franken spokesman Andy Barr said that the campaign is employing a grassroots model of fundraising – prospecting for donations in the off year in the hopes of building a donor base for the election year.

Steven Schier, a political science professor at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., said that strategy could make sense, especially if the campaign is

relying on a lot of small donations.

“Still, it’s an expensive way to raise money, and it’s not as efficient as Coleman’s operation has been,” he said. “Franken raises a lot of money – he spends a lot of money raising it. The question is how will that match up against Ciresi’s personal wealth? And will that be an impediment for him in going up against a self-funding candidate?”

Ciresi raised far less than Coleman and Franken – just over $300,000 in the reporting period – but could shake things up

dramatically if he taps his own money. Ciresi, who has listed his net worth at around $26.7 million, has not put any of his money into the race, but has left the door open to doing so.

Schier said that Coleman’s “more mature fundraising apparatus” is just one of the many advantages he has as an incumbent.

Although Franken out-raised Coleman for the second consecutive period, he also outspent him by about 2-1, allowing Coleman to widen his cash advantage. The senator finishing with just under $5 million, compared with $2.45 million for Franken. Ciresi had just over $600,000.

Franken, a former “Saturday Night Live” star, had raised money from scores of actors, writers and producers in previous reporting periods, but not as much this time. He didn’t have any California fundraisers in this period, Barr said.

“I wouldn’t read anything particular into the fact that we didn’t happen to do anything in California this quarter,” he said, “except that the notion we dance on the strings of Hollywood is a bit overblown.”