Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson participated in his last debate with Governor Mark Dayton this evening, but he struggled to offer specifics on what he would do if elected governor next week.
The debate showcased Dayton's strongest attempt at getting Johnson to detail where he would prioritize government spending in realistic terms. For Johnson, this was his last big opportunity to change the dynamics of the race before next Tuesday's election.
Dayton's performance in the debates with Johnson have been stronger than Republicans expected. Dayton has shown a strong grasp of issues facing the state and has provided specifics on what Minnesotans can expect if he is elected to a second term as governor next week. Johnson needs a Hail Mary pass to win the election next week, but tonight his team didn't even take the field. For Johnson, time is running out.
Picture source: Office of Governor Mark Dayton, Jeff Johnson for Governor
Former Congressman Jim Ramstad endorsed Ryan Rutzick in House District 44B this afternoon. In a statement from Rutzick's campaign, Ramstad said "we need new, centrist leaders like Ryan Rutzick who will work in a bi-partisan, common sense way, on the problems facing the people of our district." Rutzick is facing Democrat Jon Applebaum in next Tuesday's election.
Applebaum had previously claimed he had been endorsed by Ramstad, but later acknowledged he had not been endorsed by Ramstad.
It is a violation of the Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act for a candidate to claim they have "the support or endorsement of an individual without first getting written permission from the individual to do so."
Ramstad represented this area in Congress and other portions previously when he served in the Minnesota Senate. Ramstad currently lives in House District 44B. Ramstad remains a political powerhouse in Minnesota, but since leaving office in 2009, Ramstad has rarely enganged in partisan politics, which adds further weight to his endorsement.
Ramstad added, "we need new leaders like Ryan Rutzick, who will work to create jobs, reduce taxes, improve education, protect seniors and address the other important issues facing Minnesotans."
Picture source: Ryan Rutzick for State Representative
Yesterday someone asked me what U.S. Senator Al Franken's closing message is, and I couldn't provide an answer. If Franken has a closing message before Election Day, people are having a tough time understanding it.
Franken's non-answer on the Ebola travel ban at Sunday's U.S. Senate debate dominated news coverage the following day and the next two days. On Wednesday, Franken called anounced he finally endorsed an Ebola travel ban, but it was too late. Republicans moved quickly to respond.
Franken's challenger, Republican Mike McFadden, released radio ads which targeted Franken's non-answer to Ebola and the Republican Party of Minnesota sent out mail pieces hitting Franken's response to Ebola. In the final days before the election, Franken's Ebola response has taken his campaign off message, But what his final message would be to voters is still unknown.
In the closing days of the 2014 elections, Ebola has become one of the top issues in the race for U.S. Senate in Minnesota. The Star Tribune reported on the back and forth between Franken and his Republican challenger, businessman Mike McFadden. Now, the Republican Party of Minnesota has sent out a mailing attacking U.S. Senator Al Franken for his response to the growing concerns about the spread of the virus.
As I noted in a previous post, fear is often used in politics to get the attention of voters. McFadden's campaign has jumped on the issue, releasing a radio ad about Franken's answer to questions about Ebola. If Minnesotans were not worried about Ebola before, the mailing above may have them start thinking about the issue with more concern.
Picture source: Republican Party of Minnesota Ebola virus mailing.
The Star Tribune released two new polls in the last 24 hours which show both Governor Mark Dayton and U.S. Senator Al Franken leading their GOP rivals by less than double-digits. Dayton is leading Republican Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, 45 percent to 38 percent. Franken is leading Republican businessman Mike McFadden, 48 percent to 39 percent.
Coming into the final days of the election, both polls will give Republicans a boost of energy. While Dayton and Franken have leads, both Republican challengers have gained ground. Aside from the more high profile races for statewide office, Republicans and Democrats are battling for control of the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Republicans focused on winning the Minnesota House of Representatives need both Johnson and McFadden to have a strong finish on Election Day. If you do not live in one of the targeted races for the Minnesota House of Representatives, then you likely have not seen all of the mailings and television commercials. I live in Eagan and I received numerous mailings almost every day. It is a fierce battle.
Johnson and McFadden have ground to make up before the polls close next week. I see more fight between the Franken and McFadden, but both races are getting closer. Recent news of double-digit leads by Dayton and Franken caused many Republicans to worry about how other races could be impacted. But the new polls from the Star Tribune are giving Republicans much-need hope.
Picture source: Office of Governor Mark Dayton, Jeff Johnson for Governor, Office of U.S. Senator Al Franken, Mike McFadden for U.S. Senate