Over the course of last two years, the Minnesota Republican Party has reduced its debt from nearly $2 million to just under $1.2 million, party officials said Monday.
The reduction comes after years of turmoil, election losses in 2012 and shrinking faith from donors. Party chairman Keith Downey said it is clear the GOP is now on the rebound.
"We made good progress on many fronts this year, including financially. We still have plenty to do, but we are much better positioned for the future," Downey said.
Party treasurer Bron Scherer said that at the height of the party's financial rebuilding in 2012, it was paying about between $80,000 and $100,000 a month in debt payments. This year, its debt payments will be more easily manageable figures -- between $25,000 and $30,000 a month.
Downey said that the debt payments this year will be somewhere between 10 to 20 percent of the monthly budget.
Since 2011, when the full debt became clear, the party negotiated payment plans with the vendors it owes and taken on debt from the 2010 gubernatorial recount.
This year, the party moved its headquarters from downtown St. Paul, near the state Capitol, to Minneapolis. During the bleak times, the party had fallen $111,000 behind on its $16,000-a-month rent. In 2012, it was threatened with eviction. The rent at the party's new headquarters, in Minneapolis' Seward neighborhood, will be about a third less than it had been paying before.
Scherer said the party had not yet filed either its federal or state reports so the official summary information was not available. Those are due in a few weeks.
The Republican party said in a news release that it had raised $2.5 million total in 2013.
According to a federal campaign finance report filed late last year, the party had raised $1.4 million and had just over $5,000 cash on hand in its federal account. It had $713,000 in federal debt at that point.
Tthe Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party had raised $1 million and $173,000 cash on hand at the end of November in its federal account. It had $50,000 in federal debt.
Correction: This post has been corrected to reflect that the party's new rent will be a third less than it had been before.
Emphasizing a major Democratic theme for the 2014 election season, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar released a report on income inequality Thursday that showed the top one percent of American households made, on average, 22.5 times more than the average annual income of all U.S. households in 2012.
Klobuchar used the report, prepared for her as vice chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Econmic Committee, to endorse legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Klobuchar said the increase would raise 4.6 million Americans out of poverty.
Minnesota is also considering raising its minimum wage.
The gap between the country's richest citizens and its middle class stands to be a near-constant Democratic refrain in the run-up to the mid-term elections. Klobuchar pointed out that the number of American households meeting the economic definition of middle class shrank friom 48.7 percent in 1980 to 41.1 percent in 2010.
"Income inequality is a direct threat to the American promise that with hard work and determination everyone has the same fair shot at building a better life for their families," Klobuchar said in a news release that echoed a familiar Democratic talking point.
Partisans will have their pick of political party parties on the last weekend in May.
For the first time in recent memory, both the DFL and the Republican parties are having their state conventions at the same time.
The DFL party announced way back in June of 2013 that they would hold their convention at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center from May 30 to June 1. Incumbent Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken are expected to be endorsed for re-election that weekend.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Republican Party also put dibs on May 30 and the 31st. The GOP convention, where party delegates will chose among many hoping to vie against Dayton and Franken, will be at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.
Republican Party chairman Keith Downey said the double scheduling was "out of necessity." Since the legislative session won't end until mid-May and Memorial Day is on May 26, the only available weekend before the state's candidate filing deadline ends on June 3, the only available weekend was the last one in May, he said.
He said overlapping with the DFL convention was not intentional and they considered that political reporters would not be able to be at both conventions at the same time.
"There is literally is no other weekend," he said.
A new year brings a new round of elections with a number of key offices on the ballot in 2014, and Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is hoping for voter turnout rivaling that of a presidential election.
Minnesota is the number one state in the country for voter turnout, Ritchie said Monday, although voter turnout in gubernatorial election years is lower than presidential years. In 2010, the last gubernatorial election, voter turnout was 55 percent compared to 76 percent in the 2012 presidential election.
Key races aren’t limited to the governor’s seat. Also on the ballot is a U.S. Senate seat, all U.S. House of Representatives seats and state constitutional officers. All Minnesota House of Representative seats are up for grabs, and local races will include many county commissioners and all county sheriffs, county attorneys, auditors, treasurers and recorders.
This year, the No Excuse Absentee Balloting law goes into effect in time for the Aug. 12 Primary Election. Minnesota is among 29 states now allowing voters to cast absentee ballots without having to provide an excuse, such as being ill our out of a precinct on Election Day.
Here are a few key dates:
Feb. 4: Precinct caucuses. The Precinct Caucus Finder will be available Jan. 15 on the Minnesota Secretary of State website. The finder displays caucus locations provided by the DFL, Independence and Republican parties. Voters may also contact their political party to find caucus locations.
May 20-June 3: Candidate filing period. Candidates running for partisan office must file during this window of time.
June 27: Absentee ballots will become available for the Aug. 12 Primary Election.
July 22: Pre-registration deadline for Primary Election. Voters are encouraged to pre-register to vote to avoid long lines at their policing places. Voters who miss the deadline need not worry; they can still register at their polling place on Primary Election Day.
Aug. 12: Primary Election Day.
Sept. 19: Absentee ballots will be available for the Nov. 4 General Election.
Sept. 23: National Voter Registration Day, a special event to encourage registration.
Oct. 14: Pre-registration deadline for the General Election. Again, voters who miss the deadline may register on the day on General Election Day.
Nov. 4: General Election.
Ritchie also urges citizens to serve as election judges, or poll workers, as an opportunity to learn about elections and provide community service. Election judges are entitled to paid time off. Those interested in becoming an election judge should contact their political party or county elections office by May 1. Learn more about becoming an election judge here.
Richard Carlbom, who successfully led the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota, will marry his longtime boyfriend in St. Paul on Friday evening.
Carlbom and Justin Schramm are expecting about 239 people to attend their ceremony at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. Expected guests include Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, both are Carlbom’s former bosses.
The Rev. Grant Stevensen, who served as faith director for Minnesotans United for All Families, will preside over the ceremony. Carlbom and Schramm will have 12 people in their wedding party.
“It’s happening!” Carlbom said Thursday. “To be able to stand in front of friends and family and be able to commit to one another forever, well, it means everything.”
The couple will hold their reception at A'BULAE in the Lowertown area of St. Paul. Mintáhoe Catering will include a mini hamburger bar and “mashtini” bar, where attendees can help themselves to different kinds of mashed potatoes in a martini glass, and then choose from array of toppings.
The reception will also include a late-night fiesta bar.
“That way I can walk out with a taco in a bag,” Carlbom said. “It is everything I wished my wedding night would be.”
Carlbom had wanted to include a long thank-you in the wedding brochure, but Schramm nixed the idea, saying it sounded too much like the talking points from the campaign to win passage of same-sex marriage.
In planning the wedding, Carlbom said he learned something that had not fully occurred to him during the campaign.
“This one day is important, but what is really important is how you prepare and live your lives as a couple for the next 50 years,” he said.
Schramm is a public school teacher in the Twin Cities. Carlbom is the director of state campaigns for Freedom to Marry, a group pushing to legalize same-sex marriage in other states.
Carlbom noted their wedding comes one day after the New Mexico Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in that state.
"New Mexico gave us a nice gift," he said.
After the wedding, the two will honeymoon in Puerto Rico.
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