New York-based Freedom to Marry plans to pump cash into this year's Minnesota legislative fight to legalize gay marriage.
The national group, which donated more than $700,000 into the successful campaign to oppose last year's constitutional ban on gay marriage, said on Thursday that it hoped to raise $2 million to spread amongst state's debating marriage laws. It said it planned to spread $800,000 among five states, including Minnesota, to wage the fight.
“As we move toward securing the freedom to marry for our state, this investment shows the level of commitment and confidence that soon all loving and committed couples can join marriage in Minnesota," Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families, said in a statement.
Minnesotans United was the main organization campaigning against last year's marriage amendment and is taking charge of this year's lobbying to legalize same-sex marriage.
Freedom to Marry plans to spend cash in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island as well as Minnesota.
Update: Jake Loesch communications director for Minnesota United said the group has already received $150,000 from Freedom to Marry and "we anticipate more in the coming months."
Although the Obama campaign is sending former President Clinton to Minnesota and has started running ads in the state, key Obama staffers said Monday morning Republican Mitt Romney's momentum in Minnesota is "pretend."
"The Romney campaign wants you to think it’s expanding the map but it’s not," said Jim Messina, President Barack Obama's campaign manager. "Romney is pretending he’s got a shot in state’s like in Pennsylvania and Minnesota. We expect the Romney campaign to visit an out of play state this week to pretend like they have some momentum there."
A Star Tribune Minnesota Poll over the weekend found Obama with 3 percentage point lead over Romney, predicting a far tighter race than both campaigns appear to have assumed.
Obama campaign senior advisor David Axelrod said the Obama campaign is running ads in Minnesota because the Romney campaign began advertising in the state.
"We are not going to surrender any territory," he said on a conference call with reporters.
Republicans see evidence that the Democrats are clearly scared Minnesota is on the verge of slipping away from them.
"No matter how you slice it, President Obama’s map is shrinking while Governor Romney’s momentum and plan for a real economic recovery is forcing the president’s campaign to spend critical campaign cash to defend states they once thought were safe," said Ryan Mahoney, Regional Press Secretary for the Republican National Committee in an email to reporters over the weekend.
Over the weekend, two more polls came out of the embattled Eighth Congressional District.
Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack's campaign shared the results of an internal poll that shows the freshman Republican up over Democrat Rick Nolan by 10 percentage points (50 percent to 40 percent. That poll, which included 400 likely voters, 33 percent of whom were DFL, 34 independent and 31 Republican.
Meanwhile, the Huffington Post released a Public Policy Polling poll that showed Nolan up by 4 percentage points over Cravaack (48 percent to 44 percent). That poll included 38 percent DFL, 29 percent Republican and 33 percent independent voters.
Last week, a poll completed for the Star Tribune found Nolan with a 7-percentage point lead.
The contested Eighth District is Minnesota most expensive House race by far. Already outside groups have spent about $8.6 million to fight it out.
Wealthy individuals are giving huge donations to influence the results of Minnesotans votes on two constitutional amendments, bumping up the cash campaigns that have already broken records for expense.
On Friday alone, the campaign against the photo ID constitutional amendment got $100,000 from Alida Messinger, who has given millions to various causes and Democratic campaign over the years. Most recently, Messinger is known for her funding of a coalition of groups working to elect DFL majorities to the Legislature. She is Gov. Mark Dayton's ex-wife and a heir to the Rockefeller fortune.
Also on Friday, the campaign to pass the marriage amendment, which would define marriage as only the union of one man and one woman, got a $25,000 donation from Bob Naegele, the chairman of the Minnesota Wild hockey team. Naegele has made big gifts to conservative causes and gave the pro-amendment Minnesota for Marriage $25,000 earlier this year.
Because Election Day has grown close, campaigns must disclose big donations within 24 hours.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills on Friday refused to say whether he believes the allegations he levied against Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar in an ad are true.
Rather than answer the question from a Star Tribune reporter, he walked quickly to his car and drove away.
"Do you believe they are true?" he was repeatedly.
"I believe there's a lot to look into," Bills said. He denied a reporter's request to stop and answer a few questions as he left TPT's television studio.
On Thursday Bills ran his first ad, which claimed as Hennepin County Attorney Klobuchar covered up for Tom Petters in exchange for campaign donations. Petters was indicted in 2008 for his role in a Ponzi scheme that went back a decade. Bills' charge has been denied by Klobuchar as well as those involved in the Petters case, including by the court-appointed trustee in the case, who called the charge preposterous.
Mike Osskopp, Bills campaign manager, has said he does not know if the allegations Bills made in his ad are true.
Asked about the veracity of his charges, Bills on Friday only said that Klobuchar "took money from Tom Petters." Asked if he believes she covered up for him, which his ad alleged, he said "I believe Tom Petters was intimately involved in the Hennepin County office."
Klobuchar, like politicians of both parties including Republicans former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, all received campaign donations from Petters and his associates well before he in trouble with the law. She, like others, shed the money once he got in trouble.
Asked on TPT's Almanac whether he would run other ads, Bills said "we sure do hope so. I'd love to do a positive Kurt ad."
The ad has run once, during Thursday night's Vikings game. According to public records, the Bills campaign paid $15,000 to run it and canceled all his other ad time at the station.