ST. PETER - Powerful organizations and fundraising sources are converging on Minnesota House District 19A in efforts to win a victory for their party just as the primary election occurs today and general election on Tuesday, Feb. 12.
The Republican candidate is Allen Quist, and the Independence candidate is Tim Gieseke. Four Democrats are on the ballot. They are Clark Johnson, Karl Johnson, Robin Courrier and Tim Strand. Clark Johnson is the DFL-endorsed candidate, and he has the support of the other DFL?candidates.
The polls open at 7 a.m and close at 8 p.m. District 19A covers all of Nicollet County, including the cities of St. Peter, Courtland, Nicollet and North Mankato, as well as a small portion of Blue Earth and LeSueur counties.
Fundraising kicks off
Fundraising in the 19A race has already begun. Information on individual candidates' efforts is limited because fundraising reports were due on Jan. 22 and the report covered Jan. 8 to Jan. 15. Johnson must file reports since Jan. 22 within 24-hours of any donations more than $400 because he is technically in a contested primary.
In the one week of reporting, Quist led with $3,469 raised, with $962 spent and $2,507. Quist did not return calls for further details on his fundraising.
DFL candidate Clark Johnson came in second with $1,780 raised, $201 spent and $1,478 in cash. He also had 24-hour notices totaling $1,000 from the Nicollet County DFL and an individual.
Johnson refused to give details on his fundraising since the reporting period.
Independence Party candidate Tim Gieseke reported no fundraising, but he said that since the report was filed, he has raised $2,700 in individual contributions, $1,000 with the party and has $2,200 coming from the state in campaign subsidies.
Big names join campaign
Major state politicians and organizations are wading into the 19A election in an effort to create momentum for their candidate.
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann sent out two fundraiser e-mails urging her supporters to donate to Quist's campaign. Bachmann is a long-time friend of the Quist family.
Bachmann's support is notable for having more of an impact than her support for Quist in November 2012 when he lost the race in the 1st Congressional District to three-term incumbent Tim Walz. The majority of the nearly $3,500 Quist raised in a week occurred on the day of Bachmann's first e-mail, exceeding one-third of the less than $10,000 Bachmann helped raise in Quist's congressional run.
Bachmann's committee Michele PAC also donated $500 directly to Quist's campaign.
Quist also has the newly formed Minnesota Jobs Coalitions, an economic issues PAC, considering throwing its support behind him. The Coalition has been active with daily criticism of Gov. Mark Dayton's new tax proposals, pushing Republican positions and laying some ground work to criticize Johnson's support of Dayton's proposals.
Coalition co-founder Ben Golnik, the former advisor for Quist's Republican challenger Mike Parry in the bitter 2012 congressional primary battle, could be transformed from former foe to new ally.
Golnik said it is still very tentative if and how much the Coalition will jump into 19A, but he called the district "vulnerable" and Quist a possible contender. He said the Coalition's interest is focused on Quist as an opposition force to Dayton's tax proposals and new Republican win for a fledgling PAC.
Meanwhile, former Gustavus Adolphus College Democrats leader Megan Nelson reported that Gov. Mark Dayton is planning to rally in support of Johnson at the college the day before the Feb. 12 general election. She said details on the visit are still pending.
Johnson received endorsements from the AFSCE-Council 5 union and the AFL-CIO union on Monday.
Independence candidate Gieseke will be holding a fundraiser rally today at 6:30 p.m. at the Treaty Site History Center in St. Peter. The 2010 Independence gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner will speak in support of Gieseke at the event.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at email@example.com)