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Analysis: spending on Minnesota legislative races doubles in a decade

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Minnesota legislative races are no longer low-budget affairs. An analysis of campaign spending data by the Star Tribune found total spending last year more than doubled the level of a decade earlier.

The newspaper found that total spending jumped from less than $12 million in 2002 to $24 million last year, with much of the additional money coming not from the candidates but from parties and political action committees.

The analysis found that average spending on a state Senate race has jumped from $78,000 to $171,000 in that decade. Until last year, the Star Trib says, only two legislative races had surpassed the half-million dollar mark in spending, but in 2012 nine races topped that threshold.

Republican Party chairman Keith Downey tells the paper interest groups weary of gridlock in Congress have discovered their contributions can make a bigger difference if they're directed toward state capitols.

In an MPR story on the same phenomenon last fall, one analyst estimated non-candidate spending on Minnesota legislative races has increased tenfold in 20 years.

Curious about your own local race? The National Institute on Money in State Politics has a feature on its Follow the Money page that allows you to plug in your address. You can see how much the candidates in your legislative races spent and who their biggest contributors were.

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