Gov. Mark Dayton and his Republican opponent, Jeff Johnson, aren't scheduled to meet for their first honest-to-goodness, one-on-one debate until Oct. 1 in Rochester. But Johnson will warm up the crowd for Dayton on Wednesday in Alexandria, when both men -- separately -- will speak to a general session of the Association of Minnesota Counties meeting at Arrowwood Resort.
The Democratic incumbent and his Republican challenger were each given 30 minutes to deliver their "vision for Minnesota," according to AMC chief Julie Ring, and maybe take a few questions from dozens of county commissioners in attendance.
Sparing them a potentially awkward encounter, Johnson is scheduled to finish up at 1:30 p.m. while Dayton won't start until 2.
It's a hometown crowd in a way for Johnson, who has been a Hennepin County commissioner since 2008. But the Association of Counties does not issue political endorsements.
Dayton is taking a relatively rare break from his official schedule to appear as a political candidate at the county forum. His trip to western Minnesota included meetings in Moorhead and Breckenridge Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning on rail safety and a Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion-project.
Gov. Mark Dayton visited an Brooklyn Center school as classes started Tuesday, where he emphasized his push for state funding to provide all-day kindergarten classes at every school in the state.
Dayton, who faces a November challenge from Republican Jeff Johnson, visited with a handful of teachers and school administrators at Garden City Elementary before stepping out to the courtyard to greet students streaming in for the first day of the school year.
"My first day ever as a teacher in New York City, I experienced a level of terror that I haven't reached again in my lifetime," Dayton said during a brief, organized discussion with kindergarten teachers and Osseo School District officials.
Spending on K-12 education is a major responsibility of the state, and a point of contention in the race between Dayton and Johnson. While the DFL incumbent has touted the $134 million for all-day kindergarten, and other enhanced school funding he championed, Johnson has said that leaders and parents from one school district to the next should get more direct say in how they spend state money.
Johnson called all-day kindergarten an example of the kind of strings-attached funding increase he would try to stamp out. Still, his campaign said if elected he would not seek to repeal the recent funding boost for the program.
In a statement released Tuesday by his campaign, Johnson sought to highlight Minnesota's "achievement gap" -- the well-documented lag in test scores between white students and students of color in the state.
"I will have a 'let's try everything' mindset when it comes to closing the achievement gap," Johnson said in the statement.
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.”
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