Analysis of Minneapolis City Council 2014 Fundraising

There’s still 846 days until the 2017 election, but Minneapolis City Council Members are already out there raising money. I have combed through 2014’s campaign finance reports to assess how each of them is doing on the financial road to 2017.


Keith Reich, Ward 1
2014 Money Raised: $250
2014 Cash on Hand: $9,869
2013 Campaign Spending: $12,671.98

Keith Reich doesn’t give flashy quotes like Jacob Frey or have Barb Johnson’s Channel 79 highlight reel. This is a man you think about so infrequently that you probably didn’t even notice his name isn’t Keith, it’s Kevin. And I bet you also didn’t notice that’s not a picture of Minneapolis Council Member Kevin Reich–it’s Indiana rheumatologist Keith Reich. Still, he’s got a respectable $10,000 in the bank which should enable him to remind his constituents who they voted for last time around.

Cam Gordon, Ward 2
2014 Money Raised: $845
2014 Cash on Hand: $1,238.32
2013 Campaign Spending: $4,052.02
Debt: $345.98

Doesn’t raise a lot, doesn’t spend a lot. Gordon spent almost exactly $1 per vote received in 2013 ($4,052 for 4,060 votes). This was the lowest dollar per vote ratio of any candidate.

Jacob Frey, Ward 3
2014 Money Raised: $45,365.32
2014 Cash on Hand: $48,591.33
2013 Campaign Spending: $122,022.07
Debt: $10,000

Frey raised double the amount of the next highest campaign. Frey’s debt is from a loan he gave his campaign prior to the 2013 election.

This is Minneapolis’ most expensive ward. In 2013, incumbent Diane Hofstede spent $107,000 and lost, flushing $72,000 of her own money in the process.

Frey’s opponent in 2013 lost nearly $72,000 in loans to her campaign.

Barb Johnson, Ward 4
2014 Money Raised: $18,400.00
2014 Cash on Hand: $10,908.41
2013 Campaign Spending: $68,777.43

Council President Barb Johnson ($31.94) came in just behind Jacob Frey ($32.74) in spending per vote received in 2013. She was the biggest campaign spender in 2014, and that’s surprising because the campaign doesn’t really start until 2017.

No other campaigns came close to being this bloated. Johnson spent $4,340 in 2014–not an election year–to pay for internet, cable TV, and landline service for both her homes, as well as her Verizon cell phone bill (this deserves a blog post by itself). In total, she spent nearly $16,000 last year. For comparison, Johnson’s top opponent spent $9,600 in 2013, which was an actual election year.

Ward 4 has the lowest turnout in the city at 23 percent. Combine this fact with Johnson’s seeming unwillingness to spend her substantial sums on actual campaign stuff, and, well, you probably still wouldn’t be surprised that Barb will almost certainly win reelection in 2017.

Blong Yang, Ward 5
2014 Money Raised: $9,609.60
2014 Cash on Hand: $0
2013 Campaign Spending: $40,845.13
Debt: 4,933.62

I would imagine 2013 was a hard fought campaign in Ward 5. Three candidates got more than 20 percent of the vote. Yang scrapped his way to 40 percent and came out ahead in the second round of tabulating ranked choice voting. This is another ward with shockingly low turnout (23.53%).

Yang had no cash at the end of 2014, so he may be vulnerable to a well-funded challenger in 2017. All the money raised in 2014 went towards fundraising expenses and to pay down part of a loan he gave his campaign in 2013.

Abdi Warsame, Ward 6
2014 Money Raised: $22,470.75
2014 Cash on Hand: $16,592.97
2013 Campaign Spending: $50,841.47

Second place to Frey for money raised in 2014, but this is a cheaper ward to run in.

Lisa Goodman, Ward 7
2014 Money Raised:  $19,049.66
2014 Cash on Hand: $95,389.74
2013 Campaign Spending: $49,927.87

Lisa Goodman has so much money she could win two campaigns simultaneously with both bank accounts tied behind her back. The thing I noticed about Lisa Goodman’s 2014 expenditures is that she sponsors a lot of events ($5,290), and donates to other campaigns and organizations ($1,270). If you have an event or campaign that needs sponsoring, ask Lisa.

EDIT: I somehow overlooked that Lisa Goodman spent $50,000 in 2013 running unopposed.

Elizabeth Glidden, Ward 8
2014 Money Raised: $4,755.00
2014 Cash on Hand: $7,501.69
2013 Campaign Spending: $20,444.82

Doesn’t need money. Raises it anyway. Won 84 percent of the vote in 2013, the highest of any candidate citywide. Admittedly, her challenger was named “undervote.”

Alondra Cano, Ward 9
2014 Money Raised: $4,380
2014 Cash on Hand: $1,478.01
2013 Campaign Spending: 2013 report not available

Received less than 40 percent of first choice votes in 2013, which may indicate vulnerability.

Cano spent $1,200 on email in 2014, yet only $125 on tortas. I’d prefer to see an operation where those numbers are reversed; she may need a campaign shake-up.


Lisa Bender, Ward 10
2014 Money Raised: $14,277.71
2014 Cash on Hand: $16,645.99
2013 Campaign Spending: $61,099.47

Bender is running a super-lean operation. Her only expense for 2014 was $288 to keep the website running. Her 2013 spending seems like a lot, until you realize her incumbent opponent spent 35 percent more money ($82,559) to get less than half as many votes.

Facebook conspiracy theorists might be interested to see the $250 donation from someone listing their name only as the “Boegemann” (guessing it’s Dutch for “developer”).

John Quincy, Ward 11
2014 Money Raised: $.18
2014 Cash on Hand: $1,099.77
2013 Campaign Spending: $10,114.21

Quincy’s fundraising haul for 2014 looks tiny. The real story: it’s interest accrued on funds left over from 2013. The legend: John Quincy wrote himself a check for 18 cents just to mock his future opponents; as a show of confidence, he’s prepared to wait until 2018 before lifting a finger to run for reelection in 2017. Show your support by writing him a check for 18 cents. Put “$.18 for 2018!” in the memo.

Andrew Johnson, Ward 12
2014 Money Raised: $11,461
2014 Cash on Hand: $10,641.05
2013 Campaign Spending: $42,204.23
Debt: $20,500

Johnson’s did well in 2014, but he has the most debt of any candidate, in the form of a loan he gave his campaign prior to the 2013 election. Johnson addresses his debt in this recent Strib article on City Council fundraising.

Johnson’s biggest expense in 2014 was $808 for a 75-person buffet fundraiser at the Gandhi Mahal restaurant. His campaign expense reports do not indicate how much he paid for that bottomless pitcher of water he drinks from during City Council meetings.

Linea Palmisano, Ward 13
2014 Money Raised: $13,392
2014 Cash on Hand: $9,648.32
2013 Campaign Cost: $50,193.04
Debt: $6,000

At 46 percent, Ward 13 had by far the highest turnout of any ward in the city. You’d think such accomplished voters would be beyond the influence of money, yet Palmisano persists in fundraising for 2017.

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