Candidates have means to help their campaigns
ST. PAUL—All of the major candidates running for Congress in Minnesota's 2nd District are millionaires, a fact that could come into play as the campaign's costs mount up.
In personal financial disclosure forms filed during recent months, the candidates for the GOP nomination laid out the approximate size of their investments, real estate holdings and bank accounts; disclosed their income during the past two years; and laid out any existing debts.
The money matters because several of the 2nd District candidates have funded their campaigns with their own money. Any of them could contribute tens of thousands of dollars or more to win.
Seeking the GOP nomination are former lawmaker John Howe, former talk radio host Jason Lewis (a Woodbury resident) and businesswoman Darlene Miller, as well as newcomer Matt Erickson (a Cottage Grove resident), who has yet to file a disclosure. The winner of the Aug. 9 primary will face Democratic nominee Angie Craig, a multi-millionaire herself, and Independence Party candidate Paula Overby.
The median household income in the 2nd District in 2014 was $76,409.
Candidates weren't required to disclose the value of their primary homes, personal property, or the income earned by family members. The federal reports require candidates to give ranges for their assets, income and liabilities, not exact figures.
Of the Republican candidates, Miller could be the wealthiest — though it's impossible to tell for sure. Candidates have to disclose their income, assets and debts in ranges, which can produce drastic swings when added together.
Miller's net worth, combining her assets and debts, could be as high as $10.3 million — or as low as $300,000 in debt. Halfway between those two figures would be an average net worth of around $5 million.
That combines her ownership of Permac Industries, a Burnsville-based precision machinery company worth between $1 million and $5 million, and several real estate investments: a commercial building in Burnsville worth between $1 million and $5 million and some vacant land in the Turks and Caicos Islands worth between $250,000 and $500,000. Another investment, a rental condo in Florida's Marco Island, was sold last March.
Altogether about 40 percent of Miller's net worth comes from Permac and another 46 percent from real estate, with the rest in the form of investments and cash.
She also owes between $1.4 million and $3 million, all related to her assets: up to $1.5 million in business loans for Permac and up to $1.25 million in mortgages on her real estate.
Miller's income comes primarily from her Permac salary — $228,000 last year — as well as rent on her Burnsville commercial building.
The only Republican candidate to self-fund his campaign so far this cycle is Howe, who has loaned himself just less than $650,000. This money comes from a diversified real estate portfolio and a range of investments that also gives him a claim as the wealthiest candidate in the race.
His net worth ranges between $3.9 million and $8.8 million — a tighter range than Miller, and one buoyed by his being debt-free. The midpoint of his wealth range is $6.3 million.
Howe's disclosure lists 31 real estate properties, including farms, townhomes, recreational properties, commercial buildings and a Sears store in Dundas worth $100,000 to $250,000.
About half his net worth is in the form of real estate, with the rest in a range of investments and cash.
Howe's income came almost entirely from his rental properties, which brought in between $137,000 and $363,000 last year. His wife, Lisa, also earned a salary at U.S. Bank, the amount of which he wasn't required to disclose. Howe's only other income was a $5,250 stipend from the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, a national nonpartisan group of current and former state lawmakers.
The least wealthy of the candidates is Lewis, who's worth between $1.6 million and $3.7 million with no reported debts. The midpoint of that range is $2.7 million.
Unlike the real estate-heavy portfolios of Howe and Miller, Lewis' wealth is primarily in the form of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investments. These make up about 75 percent of his assets, with most of the rest in cash. His only significant real estate besides his home is a Miami Beach condo worth $100,000 to $250,000.
Lewis' report included the values of his Woodbury home, household furniture and two cars, which he wasn't required to include. Lewis said he was trying to err on the side of not omitting anything required.
His income in the last year came primarily from capital gains, interest and dividends on his investments: between $52,000 and $138,000. He also earned a few thousand dollars each from book royalties, from consulting with a local technology company, from speaking fees and from newspaper columns in the Star Tribune.
Craig, a former St. Jude Medical executive, last year reported investments worth between $3.9 million and $9.4 million, with no liabilities.
She earned between $1.8 million and $6.9 million in 2014, including stock options. In 2015 through the summer of that year, she reported earning between $572,000 and $708,000, mostly from her salary at St. Jude Medical.
Craig has loaned her campaign $775,000.
The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.