Meet Vance Opperman, Minnesota's top Super PAC donor
The 2014 midterm elections may not be considered as important as the presidential race we saw two years ago, but don't tell that to millionaires.
Wealthy businessmen are still spending like crazy on Super PACs in the 2014 race, led by former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, who's already given more than $20 million. And the cream of the crop in Minnesota is Minneapolis businessman Vance Opperman, who's already thrown $260,000 to Super PACs this election, making him one of the top 100 super PAC donors in the country, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
So who is Opperman? He's a pretty huge figure in the Twin Cities' business scene, serving as president and CEO of Key Investment, Inc. If that isn't impressive enough, he's also on the board of directors for TCF Financial and the chairman of the board of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota.
Opperman's view on government is mixed. He's an active, card-carrying member of the ACLU. Yet his political contributions this election have been purely Democratic. In the cycle, Opperman's given strictly to the left, throwing out at least $2,600 to candidates like Kay Hagan, Al Franken, and Keith Ellison.
As for the $260,000 that he's given to super PACs, all of that money has gone to one place: the WIN Minnesota Federal PAC.
The group is fairly new by Super PAC standards, only forming in January 2013. Most of its money has come from traditional Democratic strongholds, like the American Federation of Teachers ($50,000) and the Laborers Union ($80,000). And even, oddly enough, $7,500 from Bette Midler (yes, that Bette Midler). The group hasn't dipped into any races yet, but it's expected to spend that money on DFL candidates like Franken and Rick Nolan in the upcoming election, according to MPR.
Opperman isn't too happy with the state of politics right now, calling it "mediocre" in a 2013 interview with Twin Cities Business. And in order to fix it, he says, people "have to get involved financially."
"The sad -- or not -- truth about politics is it costs a lot of money. Lots of things cost a lot of money. If I want to sell toothpaste, most of my money is probably going to be spent on the advertising and packaging," Opperman said. "Selling candidates isn't a heck of a lot different than selling toothpaste, and sometimes it's not as enjoyable."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.