Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006


No Longer With the Firm

DvK has chronicled the anemic fundraising of Senator Dayton in the past. The AP reports that Dayton has removed his finance director and national fund-raising consultant. To his credit, the Senator had the good sense to know he needs to have more than $177,000 in his coffers less than 22 months before he faces the voters. Even so, "staff shake-ups" are not the lifeblood of successful campaigns.

WASHINGTON -- Two of Sen. Mark Dayton's top financial aides have left his campaign as Dayton seeks to ramp up his fund-raising efforts for next year's election.

Dayton's finance director, Dinah Dale, left the campaign last month, and his national fund-raising consultant, Shari Yost, left in October. Both changes were described as "mutual'' by all three involved.

Dayton, a Minnesota Democrat, has brought in Kim Kauffman, who was a top fund-raiser for last year's failed Senate campaign of North Carolina Democrat Erskine Bowles, to replace Yost. He has not yet hired a replacement for Dale.

In an interview Wednesday, Dayton said he didn't want to discuss the reasons for the changes, except to say, "It's just a matter of raising more money and spending less money to do it.''

Dayton said he raised $1.35 million last year, topping his goal of $1 million. But he finished the year with only $177,000 in the bank. His full report will be filed at the end of the month.

"It cost more than I hoped to spend'' to raise the money, Dayton said. "That's the part that I need to correct.''

Dale, who had been finance director for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., joined the Dayton campaign in October, 2003.

"Raising money is often a difficult process,'' Dale said. "I have enjoyed a long and productive relationship with the Dayton campaign ... There are different styles and methods to fund-raising. By mutual agreement, Senator Dayton's going to raise money in a way that he's more comfortable with.''

She declined to elaborate.

Yost, a former finance director for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, joined Dayton's campaign in September, 2003. She did not respond to requests for comment on the reason for leaving, other than to confirm in an e-mail that it was mutual.

With Congress in recess this week, Dayton is crisscrossing the nation trying to line up major fund-raisers in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"It's very much face-to-face, one-on-one or small gatherings to have them take a look at me,'' said Dayton, who has expressed an abhorrence for raising money.

"I'm very much focused on people who can not only contribute, but can raise money, host fund-raisers, or have a network of contributors who can help me raise the enormous amount of money that one of these races takes these days.''

Dayton noted that unlike most incumbents, he doesn't have a base of donors to fall back. Dayton, a wealthy department store heir, spent about $12 million of his own money on the 2000 race.

"I have to persuade people that I'm not going to do that again, explain why I'm not going to do that again,'' he said.

Dayton has said he can't afford to self-fund another race, although he won't preclude putting some of his own money into the race.

"I won't rule anything out because I've got to raise the money,'' he said. "But I fully intend and will do my utmost to raise the money I need from other sources.''

Dayton is foregoing another cash source for incumbents by refusing to take political action committee money. His challenging financial situation is one reason Republicans see him as a vulnerable incumbent. Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., is among those eying a challenge.

Dayton also said he was hiring Shrum, Devine & Donilon as his media adviser, the same firm he used in 2000. Dayton is a longtime friend of Bob Shrum, who was a chief strategist to John Kerry's presidential campaign. But the firm said Wednesday that Shrum was leaving to become a senior fellow at New York University.


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