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FEC Filings Reveal Status Of Minn. Congressional Campaigns

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- While there may not be much public polling, campaign fundraising can provide valuable insights into the state of Minnesota's most closely fought Congressional races.

First, campaign cash flow may show Democrats view Republican Stewart Mills as a threat to Rick Nolan's seat in Congress.

Records show $1.7 million in outside funding has already been spent on Minnesota's eight Congressional races. Of that money statewide, nearly 60 percent -- or about $1 million -- came from Democrats on ads against Mills. By this time in the 2014 race between the same two candidates, FEC records show nearly $4.5 million of cash from outside groups was already spent. That makes this year's $1.7 million seem tame, though political experts believe national dollars will soon explode in Minnesta's 8th District.

That doesn't mean Mills isn't spending any money. His own campaign already shelled out more than $1 million this election cycle, much of it on TV advertisements, direct-to-mail campaigns and telemarketing. Nolan's campaign, meanwhile, spent just over $652,000.

In Minnesota's 2nd District, Republican candidate and former conservative talk radio host Jason Lewis may have his work cut out for him in defending retiring GOP Rep. John Kline's seat. Campaign documents show Lewis has only spent around $262,000 in the race so far, with just over $106,000 in cash on hand.

That pales in comparison to Democratic candidate and former St. Jude Medical executive Angie Craig. Her campaign has already spent $758,000 and still has more than $1.7 million in its coffers.

The disparity in spending could explain why no outside groups have spent money in the race, not even the two major arms of both parties -- the National Republican Congressional Council (NRCC), or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). The lack of national interest could signify that Republicans see the race as a lost cause, while Democrats are convinced Craig has Kline's seat locked up.

In Minnesota's 3rd District, Democratic candidate Terri Bonoff is already getting funds from the DCCC -- the group has spent more than $280,000 on ads this election cycle opposing Republican incumbent Erik Paulsen. Still, Paulsen's campaign has deep pockets, with more than $1 million already spent by the campaign and some $3.2 million in the bank. Compared to Bonoff's $104,000 spent and $571,000 cash on hand, she may have a steep hill to climb.

Still, there are more to elections than spending money, as Donald Trump proved in the primary season. With more than 60 days left until Election Day, these campaigns still have plenty of time to veer in all different directions.

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