What Does It Cost to Buy a State?

Not as much as you might think, my colleague Bill Glahn writes at AmericanExperiment.org. The conventional wisdom is that in the 2021-22 election cycle, dollars spent on behalf of Democratic candidates in Minnesota exceeded Republican dollars by a factor of around ten to one. The disproportion in spending by the parties themselves was even greater, more like 18 to one. The Democratic Party is awash in cash, it seems.

But how much did the Democrats actually spend?

It’s surprisingly cheap to purchase the politics of a mid-sized state in flyover country.

Now that all the campaign finance reports are in for 2022, we can add up the cost to purchase Minnesota’s state government. The total rings in at about $92 million, give-or-take a few million. And all 10,000 lakes are included.

The bulk of the dollars are reflected in this chart. Because campaign entities pass money around among themselves freely, Bill went to considerable pains to eliminate duplicate dollars:

The remaining dollars come from a realistic assessment of what was spent on 201 Minnesota House and Senate races.

Most of the big Democratic contributors are unions or other entities whose ultimate contributors we can’t trace, but we know that a high percentage of the money spent by the DFL party in Minnesota comes from out of state donors. Number one on that list is Alida Messenger, our ex-governor’s ex-wife, a New Yorker, who contributed at least $2,980,300 to Minnesota Democrats in the most recent cycle. There is no Minnesota Republican (let alone an out of state Republican) who spends that kind of money.

So it only cost the Democrats around $92 million to buy an average-sized state. As Bill points out, that is a bargain price:

What does that $92 million (+/-) buy you? It sounds like a lot of money, but it really isn’t. That amount is roughly 1/3 of the cost of the $250 million Feeding Our Future scandal.

For example, you get complete say over the disposition of the $17 billion+ state budget surplus. Divided by $92 million, that gives you leverage of almost 190:1. Stated another way, the initial investment in DFL campaigns was paid back in a few days’ worth of budget surplus. There is no stock market in the world that provides that kind of return on initial investment.

But it’s the gift that keeps on giving. You will notice the name of one of the large donors listed above, the casino-owning native-American tribe, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux. They, along with other casino-owning tribes, donated to Democrats this cycle and are poised to receive a monopoly on sports betting as a result.

The above donor list includes a number of government employee unions, who will benefit from larger state budgets. For example, the state teachers union (Education Minnesota), sits near the top of the list of entities funding the state Democrats. Now the union is getting a windfall of $2.1 billion in extra funding for public schools. The payoff works out to something north of 400:1.

Some of the major donors to the Democratic Party (which, in our state at least, doesn’t even bother with the grass roots) no doubt have far-left ideological convictions. But most are looking for huge financial returns if they can dominate the state’s government. Conservative donors, in contrast, are basically altruists, seeking better policies for the benefit of all Minnesotans. At present, unfortunately, that disparity of financial interest yields an electoral mismatch.

Next up: the Democrats’ dark money.

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