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 congressional

Amid immigration crisis, Bachmann to visit U.S.-Mexico border

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: July 25, 2014 - 3:34 PM

Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann will visit the Rio Grande Valley sector of the U.S.-Mexico border this weekend to see firsthand where thousands of unaccompanied minors have crossed illegally into the country in recent months.

Bachmann and GOP congressman Steve King of Iowa plan to make stops in McAllen, Brownsville and Laredo and meet with Border Patrol agents to discuss the current immigration crisis.

A warehouse converted to process immigrant children who have entered the United States illegally opened last weekend in McAllen. There are also Border Patrol detention centers in Brownsville and Laredo.

“Although President Obama would prefer to play pool instead of visit the border, I want to see firsthand the impact of this administration’s immigration policies,” Bachmann said in a statement.

“I have deep concerns over the failure to enforce border security laws, and I look forward to meet with those tasked with the patrolling the border to hear their thoughts on the growing crisis.”

Democrats add Nolan to vulnerable incumbents list

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: July 21, 2014 - 9:37 AM

National Democrats are calling in reinforcements for U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s re-election campaign in the Eighth Congressional District.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added Nolan to its Frontline program — a support system for House Democrats’ most vulnerable incumbents.

Nolan returned to Congress in 2013 after a 32-year hiatus, defeating a first-term GOP incumbent to win the seat representing northeastern Minnesota.

Republicans are looking to flip the seat once again, returning it to GOP control. Their candidate is Republican Stewart Mills III, a vice president in his family’s Fleet Farm retail chain.

Mills has raised outraised Nolan in three of the last four fundraising cycles, but Nolan still holds an overall cash-on-hand advantage.

Mills has reached the top level of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” candidate training program. As challengers ascend the ranks, they’re more likely to receive financial and campaign aid from the NRCC, the campaign arm of House Republicans.

The Rothenberg Political Report and Cook Political Report rate Nolan as a slight favorite to win re-election.

As Election Day nears, outside groups are expected to step up their spending in the race. In 2012, party committees and political action committees invested nearly $10 million in the Eighth District race. This year, conservative groups have already spent more than $500,000 backing Mills’ campaign.

Nolan’s assignment to the Frontline program will pair him with a familiar face: Fellow Minnesota U.S. Rep. Tim Walz chairs the initiative. As part of the effort, Nolan’s campaign will have to ramp up its fundraising, volunteer recruitment and online networking.

Rep. Ellison leads call for Middle East cease-fire

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: July 18, 2014 - 2:39 PM

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison is pressing President Obama to ramp up diplomatic efforts to reach a cease-fire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a letter to Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, Ellison and several other House Democrats call for an immediate end to the “cycle of violence” in the region.

“Past experience indicates that the current conflict will likely end with a new cease-fire. Ground troops, air strikes, and rockets do not lead to permanent peace in the Middle East,” the letter reads. “The United States government, together with international partners, must redouble our efforts to urge all parties to avoid further loss of life on both sides by coming to a cease-fire.”

The lawmakers praised Israel for its “willingness to agree to the terms of the [cease-fire] agreement” proposed by Egypt, which Hamas has rejected. Their letter also criticizes Hamas for “indiscriminately launching thousands of rockets into Israel.”

The lawmakers also urge the Obama administration to reopen peace talks in the Middle East.

“Additional diplomacy is necessary to save lives and create lasting peace,” the lawmakers write. “… a final status agreement in which both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security is urgent and necessary.”

High-ranking Republicans back Mills, Westrom

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: July 16, 2014 - 3:12 PM

The Republican challengers in Minnesota’s two most competitive congressional races are attracting more donations from high-ranking members of Congress.

During the months of April, May and June, Eighth Congressional District candidate Stewart Mills III attracted contributions from the leadership PACs of new House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, chair of the House Republican Conference.

In the state's Seventh District, state Sen. Torrey Westrom picked up donations from the PACs of Scalise, Camp, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan and outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.

House Speaker John Boehner’s campaign committee also donated to the Mills and Westrom campaigns.

Westrom and Mills had the best fundraising stretches of their campaigns after the National Republican Congressional Committee promoted them to the top tier of its “Young Guns" program. The designation sends a signal to sitting members of Congress that the challengers are promising candidates.

The incumbents in the races, Democratic Reps. Rick Nolan in the Eighth and Collin Peterson in the Seventh, also had their best fundraising quarters of the election cycle and still hold cash-on-hand leads over their challengers.

Peterson, Westrom step up fundraising pace in Seventh District race

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: July 15, 2014 - 4:56 PM

In Minnesota’s Seventh Congressional District race, Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson and his Republican challenger, Torrey Westrom, stepped up their fundraising during the months of April, May and June.

Peterson raised $268,000 during the quarter and has $717,300 banked for his re-election bid. The top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, Peterson is seeking a 13th term in Congress.

Westrom raised nearly $231,500 and has almost $327,800 cash-on-hand. The attorney and state senator, announced his candidacy in early December.

The second quarter marked the best fundraising period of the election cycle for both candidates.

Westrom has the backing of the national Republicans, who consider Peterson vulnerable because he hails from a district that backed Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. The seat covers much of western Minnesota from the Canadian border down to southern part of the state.

This spring, the National Republican Congressional Committee named Westrom to its “Young Guns” program  for promising candidates.

Despite the district's conservative tilt, Republicans challengers haven't posed much of a threat to Peterson, a conservative Democrat who has coasted to re-election for much of the past 20 years.

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