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, J. Patrick Coolican, Patricia Lopez, Ricardo Lopez, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry and Jim Spencer.

Posts about Minnesota state senators

The cash contest: In party fundraising, DFL continues to dominate; GOP catching up

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 29, 2014 - 1:06 PM

Minnesota Democratic party groups continue to dominate the cash contests, raising more, spending more and having more cash-on-hand than Republican party groups, according to pre-primary fundraising reports released Tuesday.

But the Minnesota Republican party groups are catching up. After years of whittling down debt, the state party now has $435,000 in debt remaining in its state committee, which is nearly $100,000 less than it owned at the end of May.

By comparison, however, Democrats still have a clear edge in the money race.

The DFL state party has raised more than $2 million, with help from the DFL House and Senate caucuses. The Republican state party has raised about half that. The state DFL party has also spent about $600,000 more than the Republicans and has a little less than twice the GOP's cash on hand, with no major debt.

The Democratic edge in the House party committees is even more stark.

For the Republican and Democratic battle for control of the House in this election, the DFL House committee has amassed almost three times what the Republican House campaign committee has in fundraising. The DFL campaign arm has about twice as much cash on hand as the Republicans' and has spent about twice more than the Republican rival committee.

Dig into all the numbers below:

Legislators pick sides in Republican governor's race

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 23, 2014 - 5:08 PM

Legislators are picking sides in the Republican governor's race.

On Wednesday both Republicans Marty Seifert, a former House minority leader from Marshall, and Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner released lists of lawmakers who have their backs.

Former House Speaker Kurt Zellers, who currently represents Maple Grove in the House, announced a list of current and former lawmakers in his corner two weeks ago. The three will face off against each other and businessman Scott Honour, the only one of the quartet who has not served in the Legislature, in an August primary.

Johnson's list of lawmaker-supporters is the longest, which stands to reason because he is the Republican Party's endorsed candidate for governor. Partisans are encouraged to back the candidate the party backs.

Supporters released by the Johnson campaign on Wednesday:

  • "Senator Michelle Benson (Ham Lake), Co-Chair, Jeff Johnson for Governor 
  • Senator Roger Chamberlain (Lino Lakes)
  • Senator Paul Gazelka (Nisswa)
  • Senator Dan Hall (Burnsville)
  • Senator David Hann (Eden Prairie), Senate Republican Leader
  • Senator Mary Kiffmeyer (Big Lake)
  • Senator Scott Newman (Hutchinson)
  • Senator Sean Nienow (Cambridge)
  • Senator David Osmek (Mound)
  • Senator Branden Petersen (Andover)
  • Senator David Senjem (Rochester)
  • Senator Dave Thompson (Lakeville)
  • Representative Sarah Anderson (Plymouth)
  • Representative Mike Benson (Rochester)
  • Representative Kurt Daudt (Crown), House Republican Leader
  • Representative Steve Drazkowski (Mazeppa)
  • Representative Sondra Erickson (Princeton)
  • Representative David FitzSimmons (Albertville)
  • Representative Glenn Gruenhagen (Glencoe)
  • Representative Jerry Hertaus (Greenfield)
  • Representative Ron Kresha (Little Falls)
  • Representative Jim Newberger (Becker)
  • Representative Joyce Peppin (Rogers)
  • Representative Cindy Pugh (Chanhassen)
  • Representative Duane Quam (Byron)
  • Representative Linda Runbeck (Circle Pines)
  • Representative Mark Uglem (Champlin)
  • Representative Anna Wills (Apple Valley)

Former Republican legislators endorsing Johnson include:

  • Senator William Belanger (Bloomington)
  • Representative Fran Bradley (Rochester)
  • Representative Ray Cox (Northfield)
  • Representative Randy Demmer (Hayfield)
  • Senator Steve Dille (Dassel)
  • Senator David Gaither (Plymouth)
  • Representative & U.S. Congressman Gil Gutknecht (Rochester)
  • Senator John Howe (Red Wing)
  • Senator Gary Laidig (Stillwater)
  • Senator Lyle Mehrkens (Red Wing)
  • Representative Michelle Rifenberg (La Crescent)
  • Representative Connie Ruth (Owatonna)
  • Representative Char Samuelson (New Brighton)
  • Representative & MN Commissioner of Education Alice Seagren (Bloomington)
  • House Speaker Steve Sviggum (Kenyon), Co-Chair, Jeff Johnson for Governor
  • Representative John Tuma (Northfield)"

Supporters released by the Seifert campaign on Wednesday:

  • "Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont)
  • Rep. Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont)
  • Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder)
  • Rep. Kelby Woodard (R-Belle Plaine)
  • Former Rep. Howard Swenson (R-Nicollet)
  • Former Rep. Julie Storm (R-St. Peter)
  • Former Sen. Mark Piepho (R-Mankato)

Previously Announced

  • Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria)
  • Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls)
  • Rep. Bob Dettmer (R-Forest Lake)
  • Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent)
  • Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska)
  • Rep. Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls)
  • Former Rep. Dennis Poppenhagen (IR-Detroit Lakes)
  • Former Rep. George Cassell (R-Alexandria)
  • Former Rep. Bob Westfall (R-Rothsay)
  • Former Rep. Greg Blaine (R-Little Falls)
  • Former Rep. Mike LeMieur (R-Little Falls)
  • Former Rep. Judy Soderstrom (R-Mora)
  • Former Rep. Dale Walz (R-Baxter)
  • Former Sen. Dan Stevens (R-Mora)"

Seifert's campaign said more lawmaker support is coming.

"Marty Seifert’s campaign for governor has locally announced several legislative endorsements from current and former legislators over the last week and will continue to do so for the next 10 days," it said in a news release.

Honour, who has not released a list of his legislative supporters, took a whack at his rivals through his campaign's Twitter account.

Photo: Minnesota Capitol/Source: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

Updates: The word "pressured" regarding the expectation that partisan support party-backed candidate has been changed to "encouraged."

The HonourHousley tweet has also been added.

Dayton: MNsure rates should be released Oct. 1

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 22, 2014 - 11:10 AM

On Tuesday, a day after DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said he was unsure whether the MNsure health insurance rates should be released before the election, the governor asked his commerce commissioner to attempt an earlier release.

"Making the rate information public before open enrollment begins would provide families and businesses additional time and information to help them make informed decision," Dayton said in a letter to MNsure's legislative committee.

The timing of the rate release has long been a political football.

Republicans have hammered the administration to release the 2015 health insurance rates before the November election, saying they believe consumer costs will like rise. Waiting until Nov. 15, when open enrollment begins and several weeks after voters will decide whether to re-elect Dayton and legislative DFLers, amounts to a political "cover up," they've said.

On Monday, Dayton appeared to resist calls for an earlier release.

"I think they are going to be so badly distorted for political purposes that I don't think they will shed any light for consumers," the governor said in answering reporter questions about the release schedule.

But by Tuesday, the date the MNsure's bipartisan legislative oversight panel is scheduled to discuss an earlier release, Dayton had decided an earlier release would be beneficial.

In his letter to the committee, the governor said he would like Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman to request the state's health plans to agree to release rates around Oct. 1. That would give consumers about 45 days before open enrollment begins and put the 2014 release on roughly the same schedule as the 2013 release.

Here's Dayton's letter:

2014 07 22 Dayton LTR MNsure Oversight by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

Photo: Star Tribune file photo

Local government lobbying costs increased to $8 million in 2013

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: June 23, 2014 - 11:35 AM

Local government lobbying costs increased to $8 million in 2013, a jump of a little less than $260,000 compared to 2012, according to a new report from the Office of the State Auditor.

The slight increase comes after a dip in local government lobbying. Back in 2012, the State Auditor found that lobbying costs decreased by 6 percent, or nearly $500,000, compared to 2011.

The report tallies up lobbying spending by "cities, counties, school districts, and special districts, directly employed staff and/or contracted with professional lobbyists to represent their interests before the Legislature," according to the office.

The year over year increase follows a pattern of higher spending during budget years, like 2013, compared to years when the Legislature largely focuses on capital borrowing issues, like 2012.

Still, the state mandated report also reflects the longer term trend of increasing lobbying costs. Back in 2003, local governments spent just over $6 million on lobbying, about $2 million less than they spent in 2013.

The 2013 annual report, like previous ones, found that larger local governments spent more on lobbying than smaller ones.

It also found that large lobbying firms made considerable sums lobbying for local governments.

Read the entire report here and all previous years' reports here.

Pew poll: Primary voters tend toward extremes, partisans more partisan

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: June 12, 2014 - 10:15 AM

A new nationwide poll from the Pew Center on People and the Press finds that consistent conservatives and liberal make the decisions in primaries at the same time Democrats and Republicans' contrasts grow.

The poll, which surveyed 10,000 adults, found that those who are consistently conservative are more likely to turn out to vote. The same was true for consistent liberals, although to a slightly lessor extend.

The results are instructive for campaigns facing heated primaries, as Minnesota will experience this August, and for voters who may be unhappy with the election outcomes.

Ideological Consistency and Primary Voting

Adults on the more conservative and liberal ends of the spectrum are also more likely to vote in all elections and more likely to give money to political causes.

Notably for Democrats hoping to boost this year's midterm election turnout, conservative adults are significantly more likely to say they always vote than liberal adults.

The findings come as people are less likely to hold much in common with people of the opposite party.

Perhaps because of those differences, Republicans and Democrats over the past two decades have a growing dislike of each other.

Read the complete report here.

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