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 6th District

National Democrats turn attention to Kline-Obermueller race

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: June 6, 2014 - 9:15 AM

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added former state Rep. Mike Obermueller's campaign to its "Emerging Races" list, the ground floor of a program designed to support promising U.S. House candidates from around the country.

The “Red to Blue” program allows the party to send a signal to political donors that candidates have organized campaigns. Obermueller is vying to unseat Republican Rep. John Kline.

But Obermueller’s 2014 congressional campaign has yet to generate the same enthusiasm among national Democrats as his 2012 bid.

At this point in the 2012 election cycle, Obermueller had already reached the top tier of the “Red to Blue” program, less than three months after announcing his candidacy. That year, he lost to Kline by eight percentage points, in what was a closer-than-expected race.

This time around, Kline has managed to accumulate a sizable fundraising advantage and keep the race off the national radar, until now. With the next federal fundraising reporting period just weeks away, the DCCC nod to Obermueller’s campaign could help him make up ground.

Kline had $1.66 million banked for his re-election bid at the end of March, the last reporting period. That’s roughly seven times as much as Obermueller’s $238,000 cash-on-hand total.

A six-term incumbent, Kline is chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and considered a safe bet for re-election by political handicapping services, including the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

Thus far, Obermueller is the only Minnesota candidate on any of the DCCC’s lists. Democratic candidates in the Third Congressional District, where Rep. Erik Paulsen is seeking re-election, and the Sixth Congressional District, where Rep. Michele Bachmann is retiring, haven’t made the cut.

Franken, Walz and Peterson join GOP in demanding VA secretary’s ouster

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: May 29, 2014 - 10:07 AM

U.S. Sen. Al Franken and U.S. Reps. Tim Walz and Collin Peterson are among a growing number of Democratic lawmakers calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign after an inspector general’s report that found “systemic” problems at VA medical facilities.

The interim investigative report released Wednesday found at least 1,700 veterans waiting for health care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs medical facility were not included on the facility’s wait list, and patients there waited an average of 115 days for their first appointments.

The report also documents schemes used at VA facilities intended to conceal wait times and concluded that the problems are national in scope.

Less than a week ago, Walz said he would reserve judgment until the report was complete and that Shinseki, the longest-serving VA secretary in history, deserved the “benefit of the doubt.”

The troubling findings apparently removed all doubt.

“Secretary Shinseki is one of the most honorable and loyal men I have ever met,” Walz, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “It’s a shame that he and other veterans were let down by certain people working under him at the VA, but ultimately the buck stops with the Secretary. That is why today, I believe it would be best if Secretary Shinseki stepped down.”

With Franken, Walz and Peterson calling for Shinseki’s removal, more than half of the state’s 10-member congressional delegation is publicly calling for Shinseki’s ouster.

Senate Democrats plan to address accountability at the VA next week when they return to Washington, but Franken and other Senate Democrats are already calling for new leadership in the wake of the inspector general’s findings.

“The Inspector General’s report is so troubling that I have come to the conclusion that the Department of Veterans Affairs needs new leadership. I believe it would be in the best interest of veterans for Secretary Shinseki to step down,” Franken said in a statement.

“The VA needs to be delivering quality care to our veterans on a timely basis. Clearly there is a systemic problem that this leadership has not been addressing.”

In a statement released today, Shinseki said the findings were “reprehensible to me, to this Department and to Veterans.”

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough briefed President Obama on the report, but he has yet to take action.

“There needs to be accountability and new leadership and the best step forward is for the Secretary to offer his resignation so we can start fixing the problems where they exist,” Peterson said in a statement. “We have to do better by our veterans.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan called for Shinseki’s resignation last week. Among the Republicans in the Minnesota delegation U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann and John Kline also want him out.

Rep. Michele Bachmann muses on foster parenting, napkin skills

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: May 20, 2014 - 8:42 AM


WASHINGTON -- Rep. Michele Bachmann spent two hours on the Hallmark network Monday touting her foster parenting experience and her desire to have a house full of kids above all else. 

She also brandished her napkin folding skills.

In an interview with Mark Steines on Hallmark's "“Home & Family," Bachmann talked about mothering and her and her husband's choice to take in 23 teenage girls over the course of six years as foster parents. She said they had four teen girls at a time, usually for about two years, along with their five biological children. They often took in girls with eating disorders, she said. 

"Are you crazy?" Steines said.

Bachmann said she is the "old woman in the shoe" and that she always wanted a house full of kids and to be "a happy mom."

She described family vacations in parks playing baseball and softball and with dogs and going down to the river and "skipping stones."

"It sounds "Little House on the Prairie" but I mean honestly it was just very simple," she said. 

She said they stopped taking foster youth when her oldest son turned 16 because she sensed her biological children needed her in their older years.

Bachmann also showed off her deftness in napkin folding during a "tea party." She said she learned the avocation in a class she took to make new friends. Watch that segment here

Asked about her legacy, Bachmann said she has accomplished it with raising her five biological children.

"They are great kids and they've turned out," she said. "God forbid if I was hit by a bus today, I'm done. These kids have turned out, they're doing great. There is nothing better. That's the legacy."

The 2014 election begins its assault on the airwaves

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: May 7, 2014 - 5:54 PM

Television and radio ads already airing to influence Minnesota voters in races for U.S. House, U.S. Senate and the governor's race and are unlikely to let up until Election Day.

Although the ads are coming late -- during the competitive U.S. Senate race in 2008 the air war was already months old by this point -- their appearance presages a barrage through November.

With potentially heated races for governor and U.S. Senate as Republicans work to wrest both offices from Democrats who won their first races by narrow margins, candidates and their allies will battle across the state's airwaves. National interests see the 8th Congressional District, which has flopped between Democratic and Republican control in recent years, as ripe for a turn over and therefore overdue for more ads.

In the governor's race, Republican Marty Seifert plans to launch his first ad this week, his campaign said on Wednesday. It is the first TV spot in the race that will determine whether DFL Gov. Mark Dayton keeps his job. Andy Post, Seifert's campaign manager, said the ad will run during the Minnesota Wild's Friday night game.

Seifert is in a pitched battle to woo Republicans at the party's endorsing convention this month and the GOP will likely also have a crowded primary in August. Businessman Scott Honour, another contender for Republican votes, has also been running radio ads.

Dayton, who has amassed larger campaign coffers than any of the Republicans running against him, has not yet started television ads. He is focused on the legislative session and unlike in his first election, does not face a primary. His campaign manager Katharine Tinucci said he has the resources to run ads when the time comes but, "that time is not now."

Minnesota viewers may see and hear more ads in the other statewide contest -- the race for the U.S. Senate.

In that race, the most significant candidate media spending has come from Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken. This week started a six figure television ad campaign. He has raised more than all but a few sitting senators so likely has the resources to keep it up.

Republican Senate candidate Mike McFadden started running cable ads a few weeks ago and Republican rival Julianne Ortman began radio ads late last month.

That's only a taste. When Franken first ran, he and then-Sen. Norm Coleman, spent millions on dozens of television ads blasting Minnesotans right until their recount began.

Outside groups are also gearing up. A conservative group launched an anti-Franken ad way back in March.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce included Republican U.S. House candidate Stewart Mills in its $3 million television ad campaign to jump-start Republican campaigns "and unite the business community around their efforts,” Scott Reed, the chamber’s senior political strategist, told the New York Times. 

Interactive: Meet your 2014 Minnesota congressional candidates

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: May 7, 2014 - 11:54 AM

Minnesota’s Democrats and Republicans have selected their candidates to do congressional battle this year.

Over the last several months, activists have gathered in small meetings across the state to pick their favorites. Now their slates are complete. 

In most districts, those picks are expected to have clear sailing to the general election. In at least one, the party-endorsed candidate will still face a primary.

In the map below, find out about this year's congressional combatants.

Graphic: Jamie Hutt, Star Tribune

Star Tribune staff reporter Allison Sherry contributed to this post.

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