The 6th Congressional District race is shaping up to be a bank-buster.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Luther reported more than $1.9 million in cash on hand after the quarter that closed June 30. His Republican challenger, John Kline, had more than $450,000, which is more than some U.S. Senate candidates.
Candidates for federal office were required to detail their campaign accounts over the weekend.
Democrats and Republicans regard the race as one that could decide the balance of power in the House and both plan to dedicate ample resources to the candidates.
Kline, a retired Marine colonel, lost to Luther in 1998 by about 4 percentage points. But Kline had a much smaller bankroll than Luther.
In the quarter that ended June 30, Kline raised $665,000. That includes hefty contributions from the political action committees set up by key Republicans in Congress.
Kline doesn't apologize for going to PACs or raising money outside of Minnesota.
''I need to raise money where I can raise money,'' he said.
Luther also raised significant amounts from PACs. He raised $175,567 from April 1 to June 30, but spent less than $50,000.
U.S. Senate hopeful Mark Dayton launched another medical-related effort to highlight the role of health care issues in his campaign.
Dayton, who is battling for the DFL nomination, set up a health care phone line to help people resolve problems with HMOs and insurance companies and offer other medical advice.
The help-line (1-888-470-6714 or 651-452-1264) will connect callers with advocates who can help them sift through the financial end of health issues. If the advocates cannot solve a problem, they will direct the caller to someone who can.
In a news release, Dayton said that the health line is intended to offer relief until lawmakers in Washington fix a system he called immoral and wrong.
''The system is sicker than the patients, but it's the patients that suffer the losses,'' he said.
Previously, Dayton organized bus trips to Canada to help seniors get cheaper prescription drugs. Another bus trip is planned for the end of this month and would leave from Hibbing.
Another Democrat is officially in the race to succeed U.S. Rep Bruce Vento, who is retiring to get treatment for cancer.
Chris Coleman, a St. Paul city council member, filed his papers with the secretary of state. He joins business owner Cathie Hartnett and state Rep. Betty McCollum, two DFLers also seeking the seat. McCollum, of North St. Paul, is the endorsed candidate.
State Sen. Steve Novak is expected to jump into the race before the filing period closes Tuesday evening. Two Republicans and one Independence Party member also are running.
Jerry Janezich, the DFL's endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate, picked up the backing Monday of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, the state's largest labor group.
The endorsement potentially could provide a boost to the Chisholm state senator, one of four DFL candidates in a tight primary contest. The winner will face Republican Sen. Rod Grams in November.
The AFL-CIO has about 400,000 members in Minnesota.
Chris Gilbert, a Gustavus Adolphus political science professor, said that while Janezich's endorsement was expected, it suggests the union's leaders think he has a good shot at winning in September.
''What he needs is for that to translate into campaign resources,'' Gilbert said. ''One would hope that that shakes up some funders from inside the state or outside.''
Gilbert said the union's support could cause other contributors to take notice as well. Janezich sorely needs cash. He reported having only $27,000 on hand in the quarter that ended June 30. Trial lawyer Mike Ciresi and construction executive Rebecca Yanisch had at least 10 times as much. Former state Auditor Mark Dayton hadn't raised any money during the last quarter, but the department-store heir has vast personal wealth to draw on.
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