By Mark Fischenich
The Free Press
Compared to Congressman Tim Walz’s previous opponents, Allen Quist and Mike Parry are struggling mightily to find donors willing to invest in their campaigns to unseat the Mankato Democrat.
Even with $170,000 from Quist’s own pocket, the combined fundraising of the two Republicans is badly trailing the pace set by Rep. Randy Demmer in 2010 or Dr. Brian Davis in 2008. Quist and Parry also have a campaign treasury much smaller than Walz had at this point in 2006 when he was still an upstart challenger to 12-year-incumbent Congressman Gil Gutknecht.
Both Quist and a spokesman for Parry predicted that donors will open their wallets once voters finalize which Republican will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot against Walz — a decision that won’t be made until the Aug. 14 primary election.
“When Mike Parry wins the primary ... funds will be there,” said Ben Golnik of the Parry campaign.
Quist said he hasn’t spent much time attempting to persuade donors to invest in his campaign because he’s conceded it won’t happen until the nominee is decided next month.
“My large donors and potential large donors have said they want to wait until after the primary,” Quist said. “... I think that makes all the sense in the world.”
In the second quarter of 2010, Republican donors definitely stayed on the sidelines in the 1st Congressional District. While Walz raised more than $234,000, Parry raised just under $53,000 and Quist generated $8,230 from individual donors.
With less than four months until Election Day, Walz now has $809,000 in cash available for the fall campaign — $100,000 more than three months ago. Parry’s campaign account is going in the wrong direction. He now has about $31,000 on hand, about $5,000 less in his campaign treasury than at the end of the 1st quarter of 2012.
Quist’s bottom line improved dramatically, but only because he dipped into his personal wealth. The retired farmer from rural St. Peter and former state lawmaker spent $72,414 in the second quarter — nine times what he brought in from contributors.
But Quist donated $170,000 to his own campaign, a contribution that’s on top of the $25,000 contribution and $25,000 loan he previously made. Just over 90 percent of Quist’s $243,000 in total campaign receipts have come from the candidate himself since he began his campaign last winter. He now has $165,000 in the bank.
Even if that self-financing grows substantially, Quist said he and his large family believe it’s going for a worthy cause.
“They understand why I’m doing what I’m doing and are totally supportive,” he said.
Despite the potential of being outspent five-to-one in the final four weeks of the primary campaign, Golnik said Parry is working hard to connect with voters using low-cost, old-style techniques.
“It’s a shoe-leather campaign,” he said.
Parry’s fundraising is accelerating, too, according to Golnik. The Waseca pizza restaurant owner’s second-quarter fundraising matched the combined contributions of the previous two quarters.
“He’s picking up steam,” Golnik said. “I think that’s evident. He’s got broad support.”
Parry, however, also has some catching up to do to match the pace of previous 1st District challengers. At this point in Walz’s 2006 campaign to topple Gutknecht, the Mankato West High School teacher had raised $441,000 ($195,000 in the second quarter) and had just more than $250,000 in the bank.
In 2008, there were two Republican candidates hoping to make Walz a one-and-done congressman. Davis, a Rochester physician who won the party endorsement, had made nearly $185,000 in loans and contributions to his campaign and had raised just less than $619,000 overall ($396,000 in the second quarter, including a $100,000 personal loan.) He had $381,000 in the bank for the second half of the year. The other Republican candidate in 2008 — then-state-Sen. Dick Day of Owatonna — had raised $237,000, although just $11,000 came in the second quarter.
In 2010, then-state-Rep. Randy Demmer of Hayfield raised $304,000 in the second quarter, bringing his total fundraising to $376,000. He had $250,000 on hand for the remainder of the campaign.