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, J. Patrick Coolican, Patricia Lopez, Ricardo Lopez, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry and Jim Spencer.

Posts about 8th District

By the numbers: The $12-plus million Eighth District race

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 24, 2014 - 12:17 PM

More than $12 million has already been spent to sway the outcome of Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District election.

The vast majority, almost $9 million, has come from outside groups.

The parties, the PACs the interest groups have poured on the cash to re-elect Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan or replace him with Republican challenger Stewart Mills.

The result is that viewers of Eighth District television could see more than 100 ads in the district during the final week -- as well as dozens from supporters and the candidates for U.S. Senate, governor and down ticket races. There are so many ads flooding the northern Minnesota district that television stations are increasing the cost of ads.

Only some of those ads will be directly from U.S. House candidates. Both Nolan and Mills have raised significant cash but neither can compete with the horde of interest groups making their wishes known.

The outside money has largely gone to tear down Nolan and Mills. According to public data, groups have spent $4 million to oppose Mills and almost $3.5 million to oppose Nolan.

With expenditures of $3 million and $2.4 million, respectively, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee are the biggest investors in the district's outcome.

The Rothenberg Political Report recently changed its rating of the race to "Toss-up/Tilt Democrat".

Here's a look at the candidates' fundraising:

Updated

By the numbers: U.S. House candidates' hauls

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 17, 2014 - 4:30 PM

With fundraising numbers in for U.S. House candidates, the disparities in fundraising are clear.

Incumbents, in both contested and safer seats, have far more cash at the ready for the final stretch before the election.

Explore the congressional map below to view the candidates' campaign cash.

Hover over the chart below to see the candidates' hauls arranged, by district.

Alejandra Matos contributed to this report.

Absentee ballots largely from regular voters, Democratic areas

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 16, 2014 - 4:38 PM

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glenn Howatt

Absentee ballots are streaming to election offices across the state but very few of those early voters are new voters, according to a Star Tribune analysis.

Only 5.6 percent of the nearly 34,000 voters who have already had ballots accepted did not vote in the last midterm election year, 2010. Another five percent did not vote in 2010 or 2012, the last presidential election year.

The analysis indicates that despite pushes from both Democrats and Republicans, new voters are not yet availing themselves of the law that allows anyone to vote by absentee.

About 34,000 people voted by absentee ballot as of Oct. 14. Another 6,000, in small, rural precincts, voted by mail.

Of the people who cast absentee ballots, 29 percent also voted absentee in both the 2010 and 2012 elections. Another 31 percent went to the polls in both of those election years.

The analysis also shows that more voters who have already had ballots counted come from Democratic areas than from Republican areas. By county, by Minnesota House district and even by precinct, more ballots are flowing in from areas that lean toward Democrats than lean toward Republicans.

Nearly half of absentee ballots have been cast by voters who live in Democratic House districts, 32 percent came from those in Republican House districts and about 19 percent came from swing districts.

Minnesota voters do not register by party so the Star Tribune does not have access to the personal politics of voters.

Keith Downey, chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party, and Ken Martin, chairman of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, have both been pouring over absentee voter list. Both parties have invested in identifying voters by party.

With that data, the DFL and the Republican Party have come up with different results.

Martin, the DFL chairman, said their numbers show that 59 percent of absentee ballots have been cast by voters they have identified as Democrats. Martin said many of those Democrats are infrequent voters -- exactly the demographic they have need to turnout if the DFL is to do well this year.

The Republican Party shows statewide 39 percent of absentee votes so far have come from Republicans, 36 percent came from Democrats and 25 percent came from independent or unidentified voters, Republican chair Downey said.

Across the state, significantly more voters are opting to vote absentee than had in the 2010 election, according to the secretary of state.

Compared to nearly 40,000 accepted ballots as of Wednesday, election officials had only accepted 23,000 absentee ballots by this point in the 2010 election.

This year for the first time, anyone who wants to vote absentee can do so regardless of whether they can show up at the polls on Election Day. Previously, voters would have to offer an excuse for why they needed to vote absentee.

Below, see the number of ballots already cast and accepted, by county.

Updated to reflect more specific numbers.

By the numbers: U.S. House candidates' hauls

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 15, 2014 - 6:13 PM

Wednesday was the latest filing day for U.S. House candidates and the cash is rolling in.

According to Federal Election Commission filings and information from campaigns, Republican Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen lead all candidates in how much cash they have left in the bank. Although neither of their suburban districts are targeted by national outside spending, both have more than $1.5 million in their war chests.

In the targeted western Seventh Congressional District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson has raised and spent more than his Republican challenger Torrey Westrom and has nearly twice as much left in the bank.

According to FEC files, independent groups have pumped more than $4.8 million into that district, a thousand-fold more than outside groups spent in 2012. The district which has a Republican tilt but has long sent Peterson to Washington by overwhelming margins.

Outside groups have already spent $6.6 million in the highly northern Eighth District, which has swung between Democratic and Republican representation in recent years.

In that race, the candidates -- Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican challenger Stewart Mills -- have kept competitive in fundraising but Nolan has more cash on hand going into the final stretch. Mills has added to his cash haul by lending his campaign $250,000 so far.

See the other numbers available below. The chart will be updated as more numbers become available.

VP Biden office confirms trip to Hibbing Oct. 23

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: October 15, 2014 - 1:46 PM

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden's office confirmed Wednesday the veep will travel to Minnesota for a rally to help Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan Oct. 23.

The rally will be held in Hibbing.

No additional details were given, but a blogger working at Hibbing Community College confirmed it would be held at the school.

The trip will come just a week and a half before Election Day amid the state's most contested Congressional district race. Nolan, who is in his first current term, faces GOP challenger Stewart Mills, whose family launched Mills Fleet Farm stores in 1922. Nolan also served in the House of Representatives in the 1970s.

Most polls put the race close, within the margin of error, though a Democratic Campaign Congressional Committeee internal poll released earlier this month showed Nolan gaining on Mills. 

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