Outside groups plan to make Minnesota reliably conservative by channeling funds into undecided districts.
Such organizations can’t donate directly to candidates or political parties, but they can invest in campaign tools such as ads or bus tours intended to influence the outcome of an election. These are also known as independent expenditures. There is no cap to spending and groups do not have to disclose their donors.
Americans for Prosperity will make a stop in Minnesota on its nationwide bus tour condemning President Barack Obama’s economic policies. The group also has a Minnesota branch which opened last year. AFP is just one of the many groups hoping to grab a hold of the available Minnesota districts.
Branch leader, John Cooney, told Minnesota Public Radio that their aim is to get under the surface and shift public sentiment in their favor. “We’re aggressively discussing policy, but we want to create the infrastructure so that we’ve got an active grassroots organization engaged not just on federal issues, but with state policy makers and local policy makers,” Cooney said.
Another conservative group, American Future Fund announced Wednesday it would run ads supporting Romney in Minnesota despite Obama’s lead in the polls. The overall focus is not on the presidential election though. Todd Rapp, president of Himle Rapp, a public relations firm, told MPR that third-party groups interested in who controls Congress are taking note of states like Minnesota.
“A group like the American Action Network is looking at Minnesota and they’re saying that the primary growth that’s happening in Minnesota is happening in swing areas of the state,” Rapp said. “It is not in the most important Democratic markets here or in the most important Republican markets, so they’re saying it’s ripe for the taking.”
According to a Minnesota Public Radio analysis, such groups have committed to spend at least an estimated $6 million in the state. These are not only conservative groups though. CREDO PAC has put funds into taking down Minnesota representatives Michelle Bachmann and Chip Cravaack, naming them part of “The Tea Party Ten.”