MNGOP Chair Keith Downey optimistic despite bleak polling, finances

The MNGOP hopes this election won't be a repeat of 2012, but finances and polls are reasons for skepticism.

The MNGOP hopes this election won't be a repeat of 2012, but finances and polls are reasons for skepticism.

It was just over two years ago that Politico, alluding to the Minnesota Republican Party's whopping $2 million in debt, wrote that "no state party may be in worse shape."

Times aren't quite as tough for the MNGOP these days, but the party is still trying to dig out of that gigantic hole in more ways than one.

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MNGOP moving to one of Minneapolis's crunchiest neighborhoods

Yesterday, the DFL distributed a press release making light of the latest campaign finance numbers for each of Minnesota's two major parties. They look like this:


The huge debt and cash disparities had DFL Chairman Ken Martin crowing.

"Heading into the final months of this critical mid-term election, the state DFL Party has seven times more cash on hand than the Minnesota Republican Party," Martin said in the release. "Additionally, the state Republicans are burdened with a heavy debt load -- 59 times more debt than the Minnesota DFL. We are in an extremely strong position to help our candidates win elections up and down the ballot this fall."

Beyond financials, Martin thinks there's other reasons for Minnesota Republicans to be gloomy about this election cycle.

"From competitive primaries that will drain the Republican Party and its candidates of already depleted resources, a civil war which still exists between two competing factions and has prevented the party from truly unifying, and a message which seems to be all over the map -- the state Republican Party is clearly not ready for this fall's election," he said.

Around the same time the DFL distributed that release, Public Policy Polling released its latest Minnesota poll. It also contained good news for Democrats.

(For more, click to page two.)


The poll shows both Mark Dayton and Al Franken with double-digit leads over all their Republican challengers. It also shows that Republicans competing in both races remain virtual unknowns, as 70 percent have no opinion on each of the Republicans running for Senate, while 60 percent have no opinion on each of the party's gubernatorial candidates.

"The races for governor and Senate in Minnesota have been remarkably consistent over the last eight months," Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, says in a release. "Al Franken and Mark Dayton had leads just over double digits then and that's remained the case as their opponents have struggled to get traction."

We reached out to MNGOP Chairman Keith Downey, who struck an optimistic note despite all the bad news.

"We have great endorsed candidates gaining on Mark Dayton and Al Franken who are both under 50% in the polls, and Republicans came out of our convention more energized and united than at any time in the recent past," Downey wrote in an email. "We have made significant financial progress in the past year and are on plan with our ground game and on budget. We will release our quarter-end statement as we always do after the quarter ends June 30, and we anticipate we will show good success that won't show up until those full quarterly finance reports are available."

Downey's comment about both Dayton and Franken being under 50 percent appears to refer to a recent KSTP/SurveyUSA poll that shows both the gubernatorial and Senate races being much closer than Public Policy Polling does. But KSTP's polls are known to skew a bit more conservative than PPP's, and PPP's work was remarkably prescient in the months and days leading up to the 2012 election.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]