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  (Mike) Hatch saves now to spend it later
Parent(s) Race 
Last EditedEric  Aug 07, 2006 11:51am
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MediaNewspaper - Star Tribune, The (Minneapolis - St. Paul)
News DateMonday, August 7, 2006 05:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionThree months from Election Day, only two paid staff members are in the cramped campaign office of DFL gubernatorial endorsee Mike Hatch. Dispensing with protocol, Hatch almost always drives in his own car to campaign events instead of being chauffeured. He writes his own speeches. He personally returns reporters' calls to the campaign number. At some fundraisers, he serves cold garlic toast.

Hatch acknowledges that he has had to calm some DFLers worried that his bare-bones campaign -- one of the most frugal in memory for a major statewide candidate -- doesn't look like a traditional run for office.

He offers blunt reassurance: "I probably know more about issues and politics than anybody I could hire," he said.

But strategy, not just self-confidence, appears to be behind Hatch's approach. He says that because of his penny-pinching, he will have a cool $2 million to spend on television ads this fall, twice as much as the last two (losing) DFL candidates for governor.

And despite the minimal campaign structure, Hatch, the state's attorney general and a popular consumer advocate, remains competitive with Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty in most recent polls. He keeps up a busy schedule of appearances, fundraisers and statewide travel and says he will "ramp up" his official campaign operation this month.

Meanwhile, Hatch said it's prudent to hoard every dollar he can. "The tradition has been for DFL candidates to spend enormous amounts on the endorsement or the primary, then they wake up the morning after broke and with not enough left," he said.

Minnesota's public financing system imposes one of the lowest limits in the nation on spending for a gubernatorial campaign, Hatch says. The limit for the 2006 race will be about $2.4 million.
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