Standing in front of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's temporary Capitol area office, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson said he would try to reverse the massive unionization of child care and home health workers now underway in Minnesota if he became governor.
"I would certainly would try," Johnson said. "It would be hard to reverse but not impossible."
Republicans, including Johnson, have long hammered on Dayton and DFLers in the Legislature for approving a measure to allow child care and home health care workers to decide whether to unionize. The resulting unions would negotiate with the state.
The controversial 2013 legislative vote was a top priority for the Service Employees International Union, which is working with home care workers, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which works with child care workers.
Last month, home health care workers approved unionization. Child care providers are organizing a unionization vote for next year.
Johnson and anti-unionization activist Jennifer Parrish, a child care businesswoman, both suggested that Dayton's support of unionization was "payback" for union support and contributions during the 2010 election.
Although a quid pro quo of support in exchange for administrative action could be illegal, Johnson said he was not accusing Dayton of any illegal activity.
Jeremy Drucker, spokesman for the Dayton campaign, declined to comment on Johnson's accusation of payback. But he did say the governor believes in child care providers' right to organize.
"Governor Dayton supports giving child care providers the chance to hold an election and decide for themselves whether or not they want to form a union. This right was guaranteed by the U.S. Congress in 1935," Drucker said in a statement.
Dayton, who has been in Minnesota politics for decades, has long been considered union-friendly and during his term and campaign has received significant support from Minnesota unions. He has not always, however, moved in lock step with union interests and before the 2010 primary, many unions supported one of his Democratic opponents.
Jennifer Munt, a spokeswoman for AFSCME, said Johnson position shows he is "against working women."
As to the accusation of "payback," she said "we support candidates who support workers...for us that is our fundamental value."
Updated to remove photo.
The DFL Party plans to launch a major ad campaign starting next week to support Gov, Mark Dayton's re-election.
Ken Martin, DFL Party chair, said the party would spend more than $1 million on the ads. Martin would not say what message the ads contain.
"It’s a very significant buy," Martin said. "We haven’t seen anything from the other side yet in a real way. "
The DFL's $1 million ad buy is one of the single biggest ad campaigns the low-key governor's race has yet seen. There is little public sign that the state Republican Party, still paying off old debts, has plans for paid television ads.
Neither Dayton nor Republican challenger Jeff Johnson has yet aired any television ads, although the DFL governor has some ad reservations lined up for later this month. The anti-Dayton Freedom Club spent six figures on ads before the primary but went silent for a few weeks. Public documents indicate Freedom Club is ramping up for second ad campaign. The pro-Dayton Alliance for a Better Minnesota has also spent on ads.
Both of the two main contenders for the governor's post are furiously raising cash. According to reports filed this summer, Dayton had raised more than three times what Johnson had and had more than six times the cash banked than had his Republican rival.
Johnson faced a competitive primary in August and has been spending significant time raising money since his win.
On Tuesday, Martin also accused Johnson of being disingenuous about his connection to the Tea Party.
"This is a question of character," said Martin.
Martin said Johnson was trying to "reinvent" himself post-primary.
"It's the hypocrisy. It's the lying. It's the misleading," Martin said.
As proof, Martin shared a video of Johnson saying on Tuesday that he had not asked for the Tea Party's endorsement and questioning whether the Tea Party even endorses.
The DFL compared that to a video of Johnson at an April Tea Party meeting in which he says, "I would be truly honored to earn your support and endorsement in this race."
But that request, the Johnson campaign said, was about requesting the individuals' support for his Republican party convention endorsement bid. Almost all of the South Metro Tea Party group to whom to he was speaking were convention attendees, said Johnson spokesman Jeff Bakken.
Johnson has frequently spoken at Tea Party gatherings across the state and been welcomed by Minnesota Tea Party leaders and meeting attendees.
Bakken also said that the DFL smack did not smart.
"Minnesotans are smarter than the Democrats think they are and will see these silly, juvenile attacks for what they are: Meaningless tripe being peddled by people and politicians terrified of losing their power," Bakken said.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley will travel to Minnesota next month to fundraise for the DFL Party.
O'Malley, who is talked about as a possible 2016 presidential candidate, will be the keynote speaker at the party's Founder's Day dinner in October. The dinner is one of the party's major annual fundraising events.
"Like Gov. Dayton, Gov. O’Malley signed marriage equality and the DREAM Act into law and expanded renewable energy," DFL Party chair Ken Martin said in a statement. "Thanks to these two leaders, both states have a more progressive income tax, increased minimum wage and focus on growing the economy from the middle out."
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is up for re-election this year.
The fundraiser, which has ticket prices ranging from $75 to $10,000, is closed to the press.
On the heels of a summit to discuss how to avoid repeating last year’s propane shortage in the midst of one of the most brutal winters in decades, Gov. Mark Dayton said Minnesota’s propane supply has increased by as much as 20-30 million gallons over last year, while rail lines and storage facilities have increased their capacity for both the harvest and rapidly approaching cold weather.
“I’d say the situation is very encouraging; much has advanced over what it was a year ago,” Dayton said, shortly after meeting with representatives from the propane, agriculture and rail industries as well as his Commissioners of Agriculture, Commerce, Pollution Control, and Transportation.
“We’re not out of the woods; nobody is complacent but there’s been a lot more focus on this,” he said.
Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said a key propane storage facility in Conway, Kan. has increased its storage capacity by 15 percent, while multiple places in state have done the same. Dayton said the railroads have responded to calls to improve capacity to transport both harvested grain and propane.
Last winter, Dayton’s Executive Council voted unanimously to authorize and extend an emergency order to help alleviate the shortage, which included a hotline for propane-related issues. The state also received an additional $16 million for its Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, allowing the state to increase its crisis funding from $500 to $1,000 in assistance per household.
“I expect if it’s another severe winter and if there’s another late harvest that requires a lot of propane for drying, then we’ll have another tight supply situation, but we’re better prepared to handle that,” Dayton said.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as of August 9, propane supplies in the Midwest were 1.9 million barrels higher than last year, but still 1.6 million barrels below the five-year average.
Dozens of protestors filled the a stately Capitol office building Tuesday morning to share their view that the state of Minnesota should divest from Israel.
Despite occasionally shouting at Gov. Mark Dayton, they found the same answer others have found before: there's no current plan to change Minnesota's investment in Israel, which is two decades old.
"We really want to hear from you. We really want to understand what it's going to take," said one of the members of the divestment group, Break the Bonds.
"We have a different view, I have a different view than yours," Gov. Mark Dayton said. "As far as I'm concerned the case is closed as far as our decision. Now, I may not be here next January and there may be other new board members...From my standpoint, here we've had this debate, we disagree..."
"Why don't you answer her question," someone shouted from the audience.
"We're just at a point of disagreement," Dayton said.
Another protestor piped up to accuse Dayton of saying back in July that Palestinians "deserved" to be bombed. Dayton replied that he did not recall saying that and he did not believe he said that.
Protestors murmured in disagreement.
"You're quoted as saying that," a women said.
"You did say it, so what did you mean?" a man said.
In the July Star Tribune article protestors cited, Dayton, in fact, did not say that anyone deserved to be bombed.
He said, instead, "Tonight, I join with you in expressing my support of the people of Israel in defending themselves against Hamas’ terrorism."
Dayton suggested the protestors should return in March of next year when the long-held bonds will expire. The state currently holds $10 million in bonds issued by Israel and $15 million invested through the U.S. Agency for International Development and that is also considered an investment in Israel.
After some more shouting from protestors, Dayton said: "Excuse me, I'm going to terminate the meeting if we can't have a civil conversation."
Shortly thereafter, the Board of Investment meeting ended because the agenda was completed and the Land Exchange Board meeting began in the same room.
During that later meeting, the protestors could be heard chanting so loudly outside those left in the room had to speak louder and move closer to the board members to make themselves heard.
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