My friend Eric Ostermeier at the University of Minnesota takes a look under the hood of Rep. Keith Ellison’s re-election campaign, and notices that most of the fuel comes from outside of Minnesota. The two-term Congressman from MN-05 has raised most of his money from outside the state, let alone his district. In fact, his out-of-state rate of financing is eleven times that of someo of his colleagues in the Minnesota delegation:
A new Smart Politics analysis of the FEC data reveals another eye-opening fact – DFLer Keith Ellison (MN-05) received more than 80 percent of his itemized individual campaign contributions from those living outside of the Gopher State. In fact, Ellison received 11 times a greater percentage of funds from out-of-state than DFL Representative Tim Walz (7.2 percent) and Republican Representative Erik Paulsen (7.6 percent) and more than four times that of Congresswoman Bachmann (18.7 percent). …
Ellison is the only outlier from the table above, as all other rankings make intuitive sense. The longest-serving members of Congress (Oberstar and Peterson, who are also U.S. House Committee Chairs) have had time to develop numerous contacts across the country, and thus rank at the top in the percentage of funds raised outside of Minnesota. Those Representatives with the next highest terms of service in D.C. (DFLer Betty McCollum and GOPer John Kline) rank in the middle of the list, and those with the fewest terms of service in D.C. (Bachmann, DFLer Tim Walz, and GOPer Erik Paulsen) rank at the bottom.
Earlier, we noted that Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) had only managed to find 5 contributors from Connecticut in Q1 for his re-election bid, and that almost everything he raised came from out of state. However, Dodd has taken some political body blows, and his constituents are angry with him for good reasons. After the revelation of his Friends of Angelo loans from Countrywide, Irish mansion, and his lies about the AIG bonus scandal, it doesn’t take a genius to understand why Dodd can’t effectively fundraise from constituents who think he’s part of the problem in DC.
However, that can’t be said about Ellison. Despite the media attention surrounding Ellison as being the first Muslim elected to Congress, he’s been a non-entity. Furthermore, he’s been a non-entity Democrat in an exceedingly liberal district. If ever there was a Republican Lost Cause, MN-05 is it. It’s the Minnesota windmill to a series of GOP Don Quixotes. Ellison should have no problem raising money in the district, or in the state, either.
Perhaps Q1 was an anomaly? After all, a couple of large fundraisers could have thrown off the numbers for one period. Eric knows that, so he decided to analyze Ellison’s contributions over Ellison’s entire Congressional career — and found out that for the past two years, Ellison has been more or less an import to Minnesota:
While Ellison only received about one-third of such contributions from out-of-state residents during his election campaign of 2006 (34.7 percent), that number skyrocketed as soon as he became the first Muslim ever elected to the U.S. House. Out-of-state itemized individual funds increased to 72.0 percent in 2007, 74.7 percent in 2008, and 83.2 percent for the first quarter of 2009.
Overall, Ellison has received at least two-thirds of such funding from outside the Gopher State in 7 of the last 9 quarters.
What states have funded Ellison? After Minnesota, it’s been primarily California, Florida, Illinois, and Michigan. Since first getting elected, Ellison has received more money from California and Florida combined than from Minnesotans, let alone people in his own district.
That doesn’t mean that Ellison is breaking the law, of course; Americans are free to contribute to any candidate they like, within the limits of campaign-contribution limits. But it does call into question whether Ellison represents his district, and whether his district supports him. If he can’t do better in his very liberal district, it implies that Ellison may be too liberal even for them.