REGIONAL – Going into the Aug. 12 primary election, former state Rep. Tom Rukavina leads his opponents in fundraising for the St. Louis County District 4 Commissioner seat.
According to his campaign finance report filed last week, Rukavina has raised more than $20,000 in political contributions, with the bulk of his contributions pouring in from June 7 to Aug. 1.
His biggest supporters include several unions, among them the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 49ers Engineers, the St. Paul Pipefitters Local 455, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, all of whom donated $600 each.
In addition, Rukavina attracted donations totaling $750 from lobbyists, contributions of $600 from some business owners, and $200 apiece from Wayne Brandt, director of Minnesota Forest Industries, and Frank Ongaro, director of Mining Minnesota.
Kirtsen Reichel, who filed her report Aug. 5, raised a total of $2,520, mostly through individual donations. She has supplemented those donations with her own money.
“For the last year and a half, I’ve been saving my paychecks from DreamWeavers and Greenwood Township for this campaign,” said Reichel, who works at the Cook-based salon and is a supervisor on the Greenwood Township Board.
Hujanen’s campaign had not filed a report as of deadline, but has raised $1,539.73, according to the campaign’s treasurer Faye Tekautz, all of it in small, local donations.
State statute requires candidates to file an initial campaign finance report within 14 days after a candidate or committee raises or spends more than $750. Additional required reports must be filed once an initial report is filed, including a report due 10 days before the primary or special primary. The report covers the period from where the previous report left off up to five days before when it is due.
According to the report filed by Rukavina’s campaign, most of his spending has been on campaign signs and advertising in area newspapers and on WELY radio. The campaign spent nearly $4,000 for signs and more than $1,300 on advertising. In addition, the campaign spent $200 to obtain the Minnesota DFL voter list and about $465 to reimburse Rukavina for mileage for campaign stops across the district.
Hujanen’s campaign costs have included mostly signs and advertising in newspapers and on radio, as well as t-shirts. “This is a grassroots campaign,” said Hujanen. While donations have covered some of her expenses, Hujanen is supplementing the costs with her own money.
Reichel has spent over $3,400 on printed materials, T-shirts and advertising. She also racked up hundreds of miles crisscrossing the district to raise awareness of her campaign.
“It’s a big district,” she said, “and just getting your name known is critical.”
She plans a final push prior to the Aug. 12 primary, placing quarter-page ads in area newspapers. Although she has not held any fundraisers for her campaign so far, she didn’t rule out the possibility if she advances past the Aug. 12 primary.
The turnout for primary elections is generally poor. In 2012, less than 10 percent of the state’s eligible voters cast ballots, down from about 16 percent in 2010.
Paul Chapman, director of elections for the St. Louis County Auditor’s Office, said those who have not yet registered to vote in the Aug. 12 primary can do so at their polling place.
Those registering must bring a photo ID, such as driver’s license, learner’s permit or student ID, and another document, such as a utility bill or credit card statement, establishing their residence in the district and dated within 30 days of the primary date.
Those uncertain of where they should go to cast their ballots can find their poll site on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website at http://pollfinder-.sos.state.mn.us or can contact the St. Louis County Auditor’s Office by phone at 218-726-2383.