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 U.S. senators

Franken raised $3.3 million; McFadden raised $1.1 million

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 10, 2014 - 3:21 PM

The money is flowing in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race.

On Thursday, in advance of Tuesday's federal campaign finance deadline, both Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken and his chief Republican rival Mike McFadden released their most recent fundraising numbers.

In the last three months, Franken, long a prodigious cash gatherer, raised 'over $3.3 million,' according to his campaign. McFadden, who has promised he will have to resources to compete, raised 'over $1.1 million,' his campaign said.

For the cycle, Franken has brought in $18.4 million. But most of it has been spent.Franken, who has been running an aggressive cycle of television advertisements, had $5 million cash on hand as of the start of this month.

Since starting to run last year, McFadden has raised $4 million. He had about half of it left at the start of July. McFadden, who won the Republican party's endorsement in May, only began a broadcast advertising campaign last week.

McFadden will face an August primary against several other Republicans, none of whom have raised significant cash, before he could vie against Franken in November.

So far, national outside groups have largely stayed out of the state's Senate race, with just a few exceptions. If the race tightens in the coming months, they may dump millions on Minnesota to influence the outcome.

Franken, Klobuchar back bill to override Hobby Lobby decision

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: July 9, 2014 - 10:15 AM

Democratic U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar are co-sponsoring a bill that would override the Supreme Court's decision last week in the Hobby Lobby case.

The bill would ban employers from refusing to provide any health coverage, including contraceptives, guaranteed under the federal Affordable Care Act.

In a split decision, the Supreme Court ruled that closely held corporations did not have to provide coverage under the new federal health care laws if doing so would violate the owner's religious beliefs. The case was filed by Hobby Lobby, whose owners specifically objected to the requirement that companies provide coverage for emergency contraceptives.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington is the lead author on the legislation, which is still being drafted. If the Senate passes the bill, it would face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled House.

Women's rights are shaping up as a pivotal issue in U.S. Senate races across the country.

Franken has been critical of the Supreme Court’s decision since it was issued.

“The Supreme Court made a terrible decision when it decided that a woman’s boss can make health care decisions for her,” Franken said in a statement. “Those choices should be between a woman and her doctor, plain and simple. The Court’s ruling will deny women access to the health care services they need, and that’s why we have to pass this important legislative fix.”

The Alliance for a Better Minnesota, a group backing Democratic candidates, is pressuring one of Franken’s Republican rivals, businessman Mike McFadden, to discuss his stance on the case. The Minnesota DFL has also targeted McFadden on the issue.

Sen. Al Franken celebrates five-year swearing-in ceremony

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: July 9, 2014 - 9:55 AM

WASHINGTON -- It's been five years and one day since Sen. Al Franken was sworn in to represent Minnesota.

Franken and former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman tangled by mere hundreds of Minnesota votes in the 2008 election in what was one of the closest Senate races in the history of the union. It took seven months of legal battles before a three-judge panel concluded Franken narrowly won the election by 312 votes.

Coleman appealed that decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which ultimately rejected the appeal June 30, 2009. The junior senator was sworn in July 7, 2009.

Franken joked at the DFL convention in May that he was going to win again in November, "by more than last time."

On Tuesday he said his bid for re-election is really just "building on the work I've been doing day in and day out."

"There's a cliche in the Senate, which is kind of true, which is there are showhorses and workhorses," he said. "I knew I wanted to be a workhorse and get things done."

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, John McCain introduce legislation to make importing Canadian pharmaceuticals easier

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: July 8, 2014 - 9:33 PM

WASHINGTON -- Sens. Amy Klobuchar and John McCain introduced legislation Tuesday that would allow people to import personal pharmaceutical drugs from Canada.

The Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act allows individuals to import cheaper drugs in the same dosage, form and potency as drugs in the United States. Americans spent an average of almost $1,000 per person per year on prescription drugs -- roughly 40 percent more than the next highest country.

"In Minnesota, we know that Canadians often pay much less for their prescription drugs, but current law prevents Americans from importing these cheapar alternatives and benefitting from these savings," Klobuchar said, in a written statement. "This bipartisan bill would ... inject new competition into the U.S. pharmaceutical market."

The likelihood of a big bill like this to pass the chamber at this late stage -- the Senate has just a little more than three working weeks ahead of the August recess -- is slim, though Klobuchar staffers said Tuesday they hoped to get something through in the lame duck session after the November election.

"This is a commonsense, bipartisan bill that would mean real savings for families and that's why Sen. McCain and I are going to continue to push to get this done," she said, in a statement. 

McFadden ad blossoms into 'groin gate'

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 7, 2014 - 4:33 PM

Allison Sherry and Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden’s first broadcast ad, said to be in the six figures, blossomed into what some are dubbing “groin gate” in social media circles Monday.

The ad features McFadden coaching young boys football. One of the boys says, “Now Coach McFadden is the one running.” Another says, “Spending has to be stopped” and “Obamacare needs to be sacked.”

Then, McFadden shouts to the junior huddle, “Let’s go out and hit somebody!” and a little boy apparently goes for McFadden in a tackle and hits him below the waist. McFadden’s voice screeches up about six notches and he concludes the ad with “I’m Mike McFadden and I approve this message” all in the high-pitched voice.

The ad sparked chatter on Twitter Monday that it employed a hit to the groin in the first major ad buy of the campaign. (Notably: McFadden shares a media consultant with Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst, who won attention for featuring pig castration in an ad.)

The McFadden campaign spokesman Tom Erickson, however, denied the below-the-belt hit:

Erickson explained on Twitter that McFadden's high pitch post-hit, which led some to believe the hit was to the groin, happened because the wind was knocked out of him.

The candidate himself said he suffered for the ad:

The football kids in the ad are real children from the Mendota Heights Youth Athletic Association, Erickson said.

McFadden hopes to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Al Franken in November. Franken has spent more than $1.4 million on television so far in four ads. McFadden has had two other smaller ads, but this is his debut on broadcast television and the “Coach” ad is running in the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester, Fargo-Moorhead and Mankato.  

The ad will run on four stations, campaign officials said, though early Federal Communications Commission filings show about $40,000 worth of spending on KMSP and KSTP.

A previous cable ad featured a tale of McFadden taking his son's stitches out himself the doctor wanted to charge $100 for the procedure.

Here's the ad:

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