BRAINERD -- GOP Congressional candidate Stewart Mills believes in health care reform, sensible environmental regulation and would even seek out federal cash for appropriate district projects.
He just doesn't like the way the Democrats on Capitol Hill have been going about any of this work.
In a sit-down with the Star Tribune between campaign events here at his headquarters, Mills answered a few questions:
--What did you think of recent comments made by GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden about his preference for using Chinese steel to build the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, as long as it was cheaper?
"I'm not going to distance from myself from anybody's comments .. but I will tell you what I believe: Any pipeline that's going to be built, especially the Keystone, is going to be built with U.S. steel. We know the competing steel from countries are violating trade agreements by manipulating their currencies ... I don' t think we should be rewarding them for cheating."
--Rep. Rick Nolan openly seeks out federal money for local projects in the district. How would you approach seeking out federal cash to bring back home?
"I think that people in this part of Minnesota understand that that's gotta be paid for somewhere. If there's a project that's worthwhile, that makes sense for this district, I would advocate for it too. However, I would not try to use that as a leverage point to get reelected."
--How is the campaign going so far?
"There's no part of the 8th district we don't think we're going to do well. We think our message cuts across all geographic areas and people that have traditionally been pegged as Democrats I think will be looking at our campaign with open eyes."
--You have said you don't support the Paul Ryan Budget plan, supported by the majority of House Republicans and approved in the spring of 2014. (Though not taken up by the Senate.) Tell me why.
"I agree with repealing Obamacare but I don't agree with the cuts to Medicare Advantage. I believe that money should be returned to Medicare and then we have to reform the system ... That's how it becomes sustainable."
The Alliance for a Better Minnesota has found a new Democratic operative to direct its operation through the election, the group announced.
Ben Goldfarb, who ran Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's first campaign and has been active in other campaigns, will guide the big spending Democratic interest group as a senior strategic advisor. Goldfarb is currently the executive director of Wellstone Action, which trains "progressive" candidates.
Carrie Lucking, who has directed the Alliance since 2011, is leaving to work for Education Minnesota. This is her last week at the Alliance.
Education Minnesota spent nearly $5 million on political causes since 2008, including donating at least $660,000 to the Alliance's funders. The Alliance has spent more than $10 million since 2007 to get Minnesota Democrats elected.
Alliance for a Better Minnesota has already run a major television ad promoting Gov. Mark Dayton's re-elected and earlier this month ran online ads going after Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden.
Joe Davis, the Alliance's deputy director, will run the group's day-to-day operations, Alliance Communications Director Emily Bisek said.
UPDATE: The McFadden campaign has reposted the ad online without the USA Hockey logo visible. View it here.
A campaign advertisement in which Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden discusses removing his son's stitches with a pair of scissors has been scrubbed from the internet following concerns from USA Hockey about the appearance of their logo.
The advertisement, which has already finished its broadcast run, featured McFadden’s eldest son, Conor, telling the story about his father removing the stitches from a childhood hockey injury with a pair of scissors to save the $100 cost. McFadden said he intends to “take out Obamacare.”
“Send me to Washington and give me some scissors. I'll put 'em to work,” McFadden says at the ad’s close. McFadden, who is challening Democratic Sen. Al Franken, is known for his irreverent ads. The campaign has also used hockey imagery before.
In the advertisement, Conor McFadden sits next to a hockey table with a USA Hockey logo emblazoned on the side. However, the ad appeared to have vanished from the internet.
McFadden spokesman Tom Erickson said they removed the advertisements after they were contacted by USA Hockey.
“They had gotten some calls from people who had seen the ad online and thought the organization was supporting Mike. This happened after the ad already ran its course on broadcast.” Erickson said.
After the confusion, Erickson said the videos were removed “out of an abundance of caution.”
Mike Bertsch, assistant executive director of marketing and communications for USA Hockey, confirmed the organization's request for the campaign to remove the ads from the internet.
"We just don't allow our mark to be utilized in any capacity in any political activity; obviously we're neutral on the topic," he said. "Nothing against anybody, but we just can't allow the use of our marks like that."
Here's a still from the ad:
After months of running a relatively-low key campaign, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken has for the first time called out his Republican challenger Mike McFadden in a broadcast advertisement, saying that the businessman’s attempts at humor disguise his lack of substance.
Meanwhile, the McFadden campaign is firing back at Franken’s claims of bipartisanship in the same ad, describing him instead as nothing other than a party-line voter and President Obama loyalist.
The most recent poll shows Franken with a nine-point lead over McFadden.
The dueling advertisements are the latest in the escalating war of words between the candidates.
Last week McFadden launched his third broadcast ad which features a Franken lookalike unsuccessfully attempting to back a trailered boat down a ramp, saying Franken “missed the mark” by voting with Obama. A previous hockey-themed targeted cable ad in the run-up to McFadden's May endorsement also called out Franken.
The new Franken ad, meanwhile, claims McFadden’s ads, which have featured what appears to be a punch to the groin and do-it-yourself health care, “try to be funny,” while attacking him, but that Franken has a track record of reaching across the aisle.
As soon as learning of the advertisement, McFadden’s campaign decried the advertisement.
“Al Franken, who votes with President Obama 97 percent of the time, is the most loyal, partisan Democrat in Washington. That is a fact,” said McFadden spokesman Tom Erickson. “For Senator Franken to make the audacious claim that he is bipartisan is a whopper of a lie.”
According to the Washington Post, Franken, along with 10 other Democratic Senators, voted along party lines 99 percent of the time.
Franken spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff stood by the advertisement.
"Investment banker Mike McFadden is misleading Minnesotans, and voters deserve to know the truth about Sen. Franken's record of bipartisan accomplishment in the Senate. Whether it’s jobs and workforce development, passing a Farm Bill, taking on Wall Street or helping kids with mental health issues."
Franken apologized on Thursday for a 2012 video in which he was featured holding up a pair of traffic cones to his chest to resemble breasts, telling Minnesota Public Radio that it was “A thoughtless moment and I regret it.”
McFadden and the Minnesota Republican Party called on Franken to apologize for the video after First District congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn had to issue an apology of his own for years-old blog posts that lambasted gays, Native Americans and women.
Franken’s most recent apology didn’t appear to appease McFadden’s campaign.
“For Minnesotans, this is déjà vu all over again.” said McFadden press secretary Becky Alery. “Senator Franken promised that he would keep his head down, but his reluctant apology shows that he hasn’t changed one bit and remains unfit for office.”
According to Federal Election Commission data, Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District race has attracted the most money from outside groups so far.
The contest between Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican Stewart Mills has already seen nearly $1.4 million in PAC spending, with much of it coming from Nolan supporters, such as the House Majority Fund and the AFSCME union.
In contrast, the race for the Seventh Congressional District seat, which Republican Torrey Westrom hopes to snatch from longtime Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, has only seen $245,000 in independent expenditures. Interestingly, the last filing documenting outside spending in that race was from eight months ago.
Minnesota's U.S. Senate race, so far, has drawn relatively little interest from independent spenders. According to FEC filings, outside groups have spent about $140,000 to weigh in on the battle between Democratic Sen. Al Franken and Republican Mike McFadden.
The FEC calculations only include expenditures that represent, "spending by individual people, groups, political committees, corporations or unions expressly advocating the election or defeat of clearly identified federal candidates."
This post first appeared in our Morning Hot Dish political newsletter. If you're not already getting the political newsletter by email, it's easy and free to sign up. Go to StarTribune.com/membercenter, check the Politics newsletter box and save the change.
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