- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 8, 2010

In the land of frugal Lutheran bachelor farmers, the lakeful of campaign cash gushing into one congressional race is already way above average.

In Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, Republican Rep. Michelle Bachmann, whose outspoken conservative views have won her both ardent fans and sharp critics, and her Democratic challenger reported raising a combined $2.61 million for the second quarter of 2010, putting their race on track to be among the priciest House contests in the nation this election cycle.

Mrs. Bachmann’s campaign announced Thursday that she had raised $1.7 million in the April-to-June quarter, giving her $4.1 million for the November campaign. State Sen. Tarryl Clark, her Democratic challenger, raised a not-too-paltry $910,000 for the same period, bringing her total to roughly $2 million.

The $4.1 million raised by Mrs. Bachmann just through June 30 - helped in part by a fundraiser with her friend, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin - is already more than any other House candidate from Minnesota has ever spent on an entire campaign.

The totals put the race in the suburban/exurban district outside Minneapolis on a par with House races in far more affluent districts in far more expensive media markets, in places such as Palm Beach, Fla.; New York’s Hudson Valley; and Stamford, Conn. The race is on the Real Clear Politics website’s most recent list of the 10 most expensive House races.

“I could not be more appreciative of the 28,000 contributors who have so generously supported my campaign this quarter,” Ms. Bachmann said in a statement Thursday. “With their support, we’ll be able to fight back against the Obama-Clark agenda and their special-interest allies who have made me a top target for defeat.”

That’s one Bachmann comment Democrats are unlikely to challenge.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted Mrs. Bachmann’s seat and has put Mrs. Clark on its “Red-to-Blue” list that gives special party fundraising and organizational help to candidates of promising, well-run campaigns.

Democrats poured money into the 2008 race when a little-known candidate pulled close to Mrs. Bachmann late in the race, but she won with 46 percent of the vote when an independent candidate took 10 percent of the vote.

Though Mrs. Bachmann is known for her grass-roots fundraising prowess, Mrs. Clark said Thursday in a video message to supporters that her nearly $1 million take came from 24,000 contributors.

The Minnesota district stretches from roughly the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities, across farmland and into St. Cloud and east to the Wisconsin border. The state voted for Democrat Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, but the district went for Republican nominee Sen. John McCain.

Mrs. Bachmann and Mrs. Clark, assistant majority leader in the state Senate, “are two very talented candidates,” said David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report. “Bachmann is not always politically correct, but she’s not the space cadet some Democrats think she is.”

Like other political experts, he said the fundraising totals prove Mrs. Bachmann’s support, but that her “lightning rod” remarks have brought out big opposition money as well.

“It’s like for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction,” Mr. Wasserman said.

Ms. Bachmann held a double-digit lead early in the race, according to the Public Policy Polling firm. And Mr. Wasserman said it might be hard for Mrs. Clark to close that gap.

“You either love or hate Bachmann, and voters know by now,” he said.

John Haydon and Michelle Phillips contributed to this report.

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