Dziedzic tops candidates for funds in quick SD59 election

Contributions to Kari Dziedzic’s campaign almost doubled those of the next highest candidate.

Jill Jensen

With less than a week before the party primary, Kari Dziedzic is leading the pack in fundraising in the race for the Senate District 59 special election.

Dziedzic raised $36,000 in the candidatesâÄô month-long fundraising period âÄî almost doubling the next-highest candidateâÄôs total.

The reports, released Wednesday by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, show campaign contributions received by the six candidates vying for the Senate District 59 seat, which includes the University of Minnesota area.

Peter Wagenius came in second with about $19,000, while Jacob Frey, Mohamud Noor and Paul Ostrow followed with about $10,000, $7,000 and $5,000 in contributions, respectively. Frey also gave himself an $11,000 loan. Ben Schwanke, the lone Republican in the race, pulled up the rear with a mere $4,000.

After almost 30 years, former Sen. Larry Pogemiller stepped down from the seat in late October. Candidates had just more than a month to register for the race and then prepare for the primary next Tuesday.

Contributions are even more vital when candidates have less time to campaign, said University associate political science professor Kathryn Pearson.  With more money, candidates can afford to be more visible.

 âÄúIn a race that starts with a party primary rather than an endorsing convention, fundraising takes on extra importance,âÄù Pearson said.

But money raised isnâÄôt the only indicator in the race. Pearson said personal contact is also a major factor.

Noor, who netted $7,000 in the short fundraising period, said he believed the reported campaign contributions wouldnâÄôt impact the primaryâÄôs outcome next week.

âÄúWe have to invest in connecting with the voters and make sure they understand where we stand on the issues,âÄù Noor said.

He said his campaign has only focused on âÄúgrassrootsâÄù fundraising, like knocking on doors and calling voters. His campaign will have its first fundraising event Friday.

Mackenzie Taylor, DziedzicâÄôs campaign manager, said itâÄôs important to talk to as many voters as possible. More contributions helped the campaign to do that earlier.

âÄúAt the end of the day, itâÄôs just about who can talk to the most voters and get their story out there and have people come out,âÄù Taylor said.

She said itâÄôs an advantage that Dziedzic was able to raise the most funds, but the campaign isnâÄôt slacking.

âÄúWeâÄôre not slowing down because we out-raised people,âÄù she said. âÄúWeâÄôre still running at full speed ahead.âÄù

There will be a primary Dec. 6 to narrow down the five DFL candidates. The general election will take place Jan. 10.