By Patrick Condon
Gov. Mark Dayton is out with his first television ad of the campaign, a hockey-themed piece entitled "Darn Good Coach" that talks up the Democratic incumbent's first-term accomplishments.
Dayton's campaign released the ad to the press Sunday. Spokesman Jeremy Drucker said it would begin airing on broadcast television stations statewide on Tuesday.
"A few years ago, things in Minnesota weren't going very well," the ad begins. On the screen, a hockey player tumbles on the ice and a goalie misses several pucks as several statistics flash on screen: "$6 billion deficit. 100,000 jobs lost."
"So we got a new coach," says the narrator, one of the hockey players. That's when Dayton appears, standing amid a group of players just off the ice. Dayton himself does not talk in the ad, but the narrator goes on to enumerate several economic milestones: more than 150,000 new jobs created, one of the nation's best state-level economies.
The state of Minnesota's economy has been a main point of discussion in the governor's race, as Dayton attempts to take credit for improvements of the last four years. His Republican opponent, Jeff Johnson argues that things could be even better if state government spending increases under Dayton could be reigned in.
Johnson's campaign has not yet aired broadcast television commercials, which are expensive. Johnson's fundraising has lagged behind Dayton so far, but the Republican said on Friday that he would have ads on the air by the end of September.
In response to the Dayton ad, Johnson spokesman Jeff Bakken said: "Mark Dayton is trying to paint a record that doesn't match reality. Dayton raised taxes by $2 billion--the largest tax increase in Minnesota history--and his all-DFL dream budget has led to Minnesota having one of the worst job-creation records in the country this year. Minnesotans are hungry for change and will be voting for it on November 4."
Dayton's campaign has reserved nearly $1.3 million in TV airtime from late September to Election Day. Drucker said the "Coach" ad would not be the only one.
Dayton does not currently coach hockey; Drucker said the players in the ad belong to a Twin Cities men's hockey league. The governor is a former high school and college goalie, and he also coached one of his sons in youth hockey for eight years.
It's the third sports-themed ad this year by a candidate for statewide office. Mike McFadden, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, ran an ad that featured his experience coaching youth football, and also ran a hockey-themed ad earlier in the campaign.
The ad can be viewed here.
Updated with Johnson campaign response.
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and his Republican challenger Mike McFadden have agreed to three debates leading up to the election.
The first of the debates will take place in Duluth, followed by two in the metro just before the Nov. 4 election. They are as follows:
• Duluth News Tribune/Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce: 8-9 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1
• WCCO TV: 10-11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 26
• Minnesota Public Radio: 7-8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2
Franken spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff said that, including a FarmFest candidate forum that took place in July, the Senator will have participated in four debates—the same amount that took place in the 2012 Senate race between Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican challenger Kurt Bills.
The McFadden campaign maintainst three isn't enough. McFadden challenged Franken last month to six debates throughout the state, including in Rochester and Moorhead as well as a Twin Cities Public Television debate in the metro. McFadden spokeswoman Becky Alery said the campaign will continue to push for more debates with Franken, particularly in greater Minnesota.
“We've been seeing throughout this campaign that Sen. Franken has continued to hide from Minnesotans, while Mike has traveled the state and talked to Minnesotans from top to bottom.”
Alery added that, with early voting, it’s important Minnesotans have the opportunity to hear from the candidates more than a week before election day.
The newly-finalized schedule coincides with a newly-released ad by the McFadden campaign that calls out Franken as “the invisible senator” and features McFadden facing off with an empty podium adorned with a Franken campaign sign. View it here.
UPDATE: The Franken campaign shot back in response to the ad.
"This ad is absurd," Fetissoff said in a statement. "Minnesotans know that Al Franken is working hard for us here in our state and has delivered concrete results for us in the Senate. Investment banker Mike McFadden is more interested in playing political games than solving the real problems that Minnesota families face."
The Minnesota DFL Party is releasing a television ad hamming Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson on education.
The ad is part of $1 million ad campaign the party is planning to support DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's re-election.
The DFL's television campaign is one of the largest so far in the low-profile governor's race.
Dayton has reserved ad time for later this month. Johnson, whose campaign has had less money in the bank, said over the weekend that he hopes to be on the air as well by the end of the this month.
The DFL ad gives the appearance of a positive ad, featuring happy music and parents talking about education, but attacks Johnson largely on decade-old votes he took in the Legislature and praises Dayton.
"It seems like schools are not Jeff Johnson's priority," Jennifer Nelson, a teacher who is clearly pregnant, says in the ad.
Johnson, who is now a Hennepin County commissioner, served in the Minnesota House from 2001 to 2006. When he first joined the Legislature he had said that education was one of his top priorities.
It still is a top priority, Johnson communications director Jeff Bakken said.
"Unlike Mark Dayton, Jeff was educated entirely in Minnesota public schools and his kids are being educated entirely in Minnesota public schools," Bakken said. "Jeff repeatedly voted to increase education funding as a legislator. Like most Minnesotans, Jeff also knows that there is a lot more to education than just spending."
Earlier this month, big spending Alliance for a Better Minnesota also released a television ad hammering the Republican candidate on education.
That the two Democratic groups picked the same issue to blast over the airwaves should be no surprise.
For years, Democrats have participated in a polling and research consortium, called Project Lakes and Plains, that allows them to share information.
The result is they read from the same playbook and that playbook says in the midterm election that Minnesota voters care deeply about education issues. By July, Minnesota Democratic campaigns had paid Project Lakes and Plains nearly $200,000.
It is not clear whether the Minnesota Republican Party, which is still recovering from a previous administration's debt, will run any television ads this year on Johnson's behalf.
Last week, Republican Party spokesman Brittni Palke, said: "The MNGOP will not be announcing an ad buy." But did not clarify whether that statement means the party would not announce an ad buy in advance or would not make an ad buy this year.
Here's the new DFL ad:
Data editor Glenn Howatt contributed to this report.
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.
WASHINGTON -- Minnesota radio and television station owner Stanley Hubbard has given more than $191,000 to federal party committees and candidates this election season -- something he told the Washington Post makes him poorer.
In cooperation with the Center for Responsive Politics, the Washington Post's story looks at a handful of large donors nationally benefiting from a Supreme Court decision, which ditched limits an individual could give to a candidates or party committee.
“My phone rings, rings, rings,” Hubbard told the Post. “It’s made me poorer, I’ll tell you that, but it’s made it possible for me do a better job as a citizen. It used to be kind of nice to say, ‘I’m maxed out,’ but I really believe that people running for office need to have support.”
Back in April, Hubbard predicted that he would use the high court's McCutcheon decision to his advantage.
Hubbard was in the news last month after Eighth District GOP candidate Stewart Mills bragged to supporters that his campaign got a television ad against him "yanked" by at least two television stations owned by Hubbard, who is a Mills supporter.
Mills contended the ad, which is spliced together, took his words out of context. Other stations continued to run the ad, which was paid for by the House Majority PAC.
Hubbard told the Star Tribune he had nothing to do with the decision to pull it from air.
"Our legal department received the complaint, and they inspected the ad, and felt that there were things in it that were out of context and not true. Tell the truth and you’ll have no trouble with us," Hubbard said last month. "Our stations do not get involved in politics, period.”
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