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Associated Press, Published October 26 2010

UPDATED: Dayton tops spending, Emmer has most left in Minnesota governor race

ST. PAUL (AP) — Democrat Mark Dayton topped the Minnesota governor's race field in campaign spending this year while Republican rival Tom Emmer entered the final sprint with the most money available, according to reports made public Tuesday.

Campaign finance reports showed that Dayton has spent more than $4.2 million on his bid from January through mid-October. That compares with $2.3 million for Emmer and about $1.2 million by the Independence Party's Tom Horner.

Dayton had a much more difficult path to his party nomination — he faced a fellow millionaire as part of a four-way primary — which accounts for some of the disparity.

Emmer, a state legislator from Delano, entered the final two weeks with $353,000 in the bank, about $100,000 more than Dayton and far more than Horner. The Emmer campaign downgraded its cash standing Tuesday afternoon after determining that a software glitch counted $108,000 twice, spokesman Carl Kuhl said.

Dayton, a former senator and department store heir, has shown a willingness to dig into a personal fortune. He has personally invested just shy of $4 million into his campaign, when 2009 loans are included. His spending in the two years combined is now nearing $5 million.

Most of Emmer's $2.6 million haul this year came the old-fashioned way, through individual contributors. But he also benefited from a half-million dollar public campaign subsidy, which Dayton bypassed so he could surpass spending limits connected to the subsidy.

The reports show the dollar chase is fueling a campaign being fought largely through television ads — despite the numerous debates the Dayton, Emmer and the Independence Party's Tom Horner have held.

Dayton purchased $2.5 million worth of ad time from Jan. 1 through Oct. 18, the window for the latest reports. Emmer sunk just shy of $1.2 million on his own ads. A full report for Horner wasn't immediately available.

All three continue to raise money, although they won't have to report how much or where it's going until well after next week's election.

And outside groups are throwing millions of dollars into the race through independent ads.

The left-leaning Alliance for a Better Minnesota has already put $4.8 million into the contest, most of it used on negative TV ads and mailings against Emmer. The group gets its money from unions, the Democratic Governors Association and other donors, including some Dayton relatives.

On the Republican side, the business-backed MN Forward campaign fund has spent about $1.7 million. Much of that went to ads either promoting Emmer or attacking Dayton.

Another group, Minnesota's Future, has been the vehicle for the Republican Governors Association. The RGA has put at least $1.3 million into the race for ads criticizing Dayton and Horner.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.