With an insider’s eye, Hot Dish tracks the tastiest bits of Minnesota’s political scene and keep you up-to-date on those elected to serve you.

Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, Baird Helgeson, Patricia Lopez, Jim Ragsdale, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry, Corey Mitchell and Jim Spencer.

Posts about Minnesota U.S. senators

Franken challenger Mike McFadden reports $600K fundraising quarter

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: April 15, 2014 - 4:16 PM

One of U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s leading Republican challengers, businessman Mike McFadden, reported $600,000 in fundraising during the first three months of 2014

McFadden’s latest report leaves him with $1.8 million in cash on hand in the race against Franken, a $100,000 increase from his last report. McFadden has raised $2.85 million since he entered the race last May.

Franken raised more than $2.7 million during the first quarter. He now has $5.9 million cash on hand for his campaign, more than three times as much as McFadden.

Franken’s fundraising haul marked a nearly 30 percent increase over the amount his campaign raised during the final three months of 2103.

While Franken ramped up his fundraising during the fundraising period, McFadden’s numbers dropped more than 20 percent from the previous quarter, when he raked in $780,000.

“Our consistent fundraising progress proves once again that we are the only candidate who will have the funds to defeat Sen. Franken in November,” McFadden said in a statement.

The other GOP candidates in the race to unseat Franken have yet to report their fundraising totals.

Gophers victory sweet for Klobuchar, Franken

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: April 11, 2014 - 6:03 AM

The University of Minnesota’s buzzer-beating victory over the University of North Dakota in the NCAA men’s hockey semifinals proved sweet for U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken.

Defenseman Justin Holl’s goal helped the Minnesota senators win friendly wagers with their North Dakota colleagues.

Republican Sen. John Hoeven owes Klobuchar a box of chocolate-covered potato chips, a North Dakota favorite known as “chippers.” Klobuchar put a batch of her homemade frozen hot dish on the line.

Franken and Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp wagered a 10-pound bag of crystal sugar.

After the game, Franken declared victory via Twitter:

.@Heidi4ND, it looks like you owe me a 10lb bag of Crystal Sugar. Congrats on the win, @GopherHockey! -Al #FrozenFour

The Golden Gophers will face Union College of Schenectady, N.Y., in the title game Saturday night. No word if Klobuchar and Franken will make similar wagers with Democratic U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

U.S. Senate candidate says he'll let voters know his philosophy, but he avoided giving specifics

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: April 10, 2014 - 2:11 PM

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden on Thursday avoided giving specific 'yes or no' answers to a variety of issues confronting the U.S. Senate, saying instead that voters would know his philosophy.

During the half-hour news conference, McFadden was asked whether Minnesota should have created its own health care exchange, as it did, or used the federal exchange, as some states chose. McFadden declined to answer specifically, but highlighted the Minnesota health exchange as a source of government waste.

Asked whether he would have voted with Republican U.S. Senators on Wednesday in blocking the Pay Equity Act, McFadden did not give a “yes or no” answer, but  he wanted his daughter, Molly, to have the same opportunities as his sons.

The best way to accomplish that, he said, “is to get this economy working. Asked again whether he would have voted for or against the measure, McFadden said, “I believe it is the wrong question… These are election-year tricks. It’s politics as usual.”

McFadden also declined to give a specific answer about “personhood” legislation, which would ban abortion by giving the fetus personhood rights upon conception. As senator, he said, “My focus is not going to be on polarizing issues."

He described himself as “pro-life,” but said he believed in “reasonable exceptions,” that included “sexual assault, incest and the life of the mother.”

Asked about raising the minimum wage, which has been opposed by most Republicans at the state and federal levels, McFadden again said it was “the wrong question.” He called the minimum wage “a very important safeguard,” and said he found it “problematic that you would have one single wage across the country.” He said his focus would be on getting “this economy going.”

Asked whether voters needed to know more specifics on his views, McFadden said: "I think they need to know my philosophy, how I think about things."

McFadden had called the news conference to declare that if elected he would take up the mantle of retiring Republican Sen. Tom Coburn's annual Wastebook, to highlight waste in government.

He said during his campaign for Senate he would "highlight wasteful spending on a weekly basis through a new 'Waste of the Week' series on social media. His first examples of waste were the health exchanges in Minnesota, Oregon and Maryland.

Listen to the full audio of the news conference below:

Photo: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden/source: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

Sen. Al Franken says it's only "dignified" to raise minimum wage

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 3, 2014 - 5:41 PM

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sen. Al Franken made a case to boost the federal minimum wage to $10.10 Thursday saying minimum wage earners would be good consumers and boost the economy if they had more cash.

"Businesses do need more customers and folks making the minimum wage are customers," Franken said, at a rally on Capitol HIll. "I go to businesses and ask them, why aren't you expanding and they say we don't have enough demand ... not enough customers."

Then he deadpanned: "Goldman Sachs is right on this one. As they are on so many things."

Franken added: "Parents shouldn't have to work two or three jobs to clothe and feed and put a roof over the head of their children and not be able to go to their kids' game," he said. "It's just wrong. That's not our country. That's not the richest country in the world."


Partisan poll finds Franken has only slim leads on GOP rivals, "potentially vulnerable"

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: April 2, 2014 - 6:06 PM

A new Minnesota poll, commissioned by a partisan group, finds that Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken is "potentially vulnerable" as he mounts his bid for re-election.

It found that Franken has a 3 percentage lead over Republican Julianne Ortman and a 6 percentage point lead over Republican Mike McFadden.

The poll was conducted by Magellan Strategies for American Encore, a group connected to the Koch Brothers that is already running television ads bashing Franken. It included 1,081 likely Minnesota voters in late March.

The numbers in the poll will likely give American Encore and groups like it reason to keep pushing national money into Minnesota.

Minnesotans are nearly equally split on whether Franken is doing a good job as senator with 44 percent saying they approve of his job performance and 44 percent saying they do not, the poll found. Such splits have followed Franken's career -- he won his 2008 election by just 312 votes.

According to the poll, Franken is considerably less popular with Minnesotans than Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. It found that 57 percent of voters approve of the job Klobuchar is doing  Klobuchar won her 2012 re-election with 65 percent of the vote.

But it also found more Minnesotans disapprove of the job President Obama is doing, compared to Franken. The poll found that 53 percent of voters disapprove of Obama's job performance.

Although the poll was commissioned by a partisan organization, many of them are in line with recent non-partisan polling numbers. In February, a Star Tribune poll found that half of Minnesotans disapproved of Obama's job performance.  Last month, a Survey USA/KSTP poll found that Franken had single digit leads over some of his Republican opponents.

The poll's sample included 31 percent Democrats, 28 percent Republicans and 40 percent independent or something else. The February Star Tribune poll found that more Minnesotans considered themselves Democrats and fewer independent or something else.



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