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.

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Rep. Tim Walz leads men in Mankato 5K Saturday

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: March 31, 2014 - 3:51 PM

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Tim Walz, who has peeled off 85 pounds in the last year, bested all other men in a YMCA 5k over the weekend in Mankato.

Running roughly 6 minute, 30 second miles, the 49-year-old Walz, a Democrat, took second place in the LiveStrong YMCA 5k. He finished in 20 minutes, 24 seconds.

He was beaten only by Jill Nolta, a 27-year-old runner who came in at 18 minutes, 44 seconds. According to a Google search, Nolta often takes first place in these types of events.

Walz's spokesman says the congressman is training for a marathon and often goes jogging before work on the National Mall when Congress is in session.

Rep. Bachmann fundraises for her PAC -- even though she isn't running

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: March 31, 2014 - 3:09 PM

WASHINGTON -- Outgoing conservative firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann is asking donors to give to her Political Action Committee -- even though she isn't running this year to keep her Congressional seat.

Minnesota Public Radio reported this morning that Bachmann's PAC, MichelePAC, recently sent out email seeking donations. 

Public records show the PAC could use some money.

In 2012, it raised $1.2 million and spent $1.4 million. For the 2014 cycle, MichelePAC raised $334,000, according to last filing, and has already spent $311,000, according to Center for Responsive Politics.

Bachmann's PAC released a statement Monday, noting the congresswoman has "always in the past been committed to supporting constitutional conservative candidates and her PAC activity and objectives continue to be consistent with those efforts."

Tea Party leaders call GOP Senate candidate a "phony" and "fraud"

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: March 30, 2014 - 12:01 PM

Tea Party leaders again took aim at GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden calling him a "phony" and a "fraud" in a podcast that aired Wednesday.

McFadden, running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Al Franken, is continuing to claim that MSNBC host Chris Matthews attacked him on a cable news show last week even though the network confirmed Matthews was talking about Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick.

In a fundraising email, still running on Facebook, McFadden says Matthews is attacking him -- something Minnesota Tea Party Alliance leaders Jack Rogers and Jake Duesenberg called disingenuous.

"This guy is a fraud. He's an absolute fraud," Duesenberg said on his Living Free podcast. "They just need some people like us to expose this behavior, which isn't only Mike McFadden's campaign, this happens all over the United States, this happens time and time again." 

McFadden's campaign manager Brad Herold declined to comment Saturday.

This adds to the apparent trouble McFadden's camp is having with the Tea Party. The same leaders earlier this month railed on the businessman for declining speaking invitations. 

Welcome back, Minnesota Legislature; House passes heating aid bill

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: February 25, 2014 - 2:45 PM

Lawmakers have been gone from the Capitol for months, and return on Tuesday with all the politics and policy they left behind last year.

But in the House, they started the session with some bipartisan work.

The House unanimously passed $20 million bill to help low income Minnesotans with heating bills. With another week of subzero temperatures in the forecast and the region still gripped by a propane shortage, the measure is backed by the leadership of both parties and the governor.

An all green board on House measure to provide more heating aid/Glenn Stubbe, Star Tribune

An all green board on House measure to provide more heating aid/Glenn Stubbe, Star Tribune

"When we get hotline calls, people are calling in fear and desperation," Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman told members of the House Ways and Means Committee at an informational meeting Tuesday morning.

The measure will particularly aid those who have been struggling with high propane bills in Minnesota's particularly cold winter. After 45 minutes of debate, the measure to shift funds out of the general fund and into the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, has said the heating assistance bill will likely be the first measure on the governor's desk this session. Senate spokesman Amos Briggs said the Senate will act "quickly and urgently" to complete the legislative work on the bill.

Bakk told Senate members on Tuesday that the Senate may act on that bill on Monday.

Bakk said the $20 million House bill the House passed does not match with a memo he has from Gov. Mark Dayton, which said $17 million is needed.

Bakk said the earliest date he saw for the emergency fund run out of money was March 1, which is Saturday, when state employees won’t be sending out checks.

“Even if it is March 1, getting the bill to the governor March 3 is, I believe, plenty timely,” he said.

Given the accelerated timeline, Dayton will likely be able to sign that $20 million measure into law by next week.

The House and Senate also appointed, or re-appointed, members to deal with bicameral negotiations on a bill to hike the minimum wage.

Last year, the all Democratic Capitol failed to pass any minimum wage increase, despite the fact that DFL leaders said it was a priority, when the House and Senate could not agree on an increase.

This year advocates, who will hold a large rally at 4 p.m. in the Capitol today, are pushing to raise the wage from one of the nation's lowest -- $6.15 an hour -- to one of the nation's highest -- $9.50 an hour by 2015.

Sen. Chris Eaton, who is sponsoring the minimum wage measure in the Senate, said the Senate plans extensive hearings on the measure before it brings it up for votes.

House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, said she thinks it is time to pass the measure.

“Minnesotans have talked about that minimum wage all summer and fall,” Murphy said. “I think the Senate is listening to them and I think we’re going to be able to make the action complete this year.”

Follow our live blog below for all the other things shaking at the Capitol.

To see the live blog, Internet Explorer users may need to go to this link.

This post will be updated throughout the day on Tuesday.

Boozy talk, abiding, 'Watergate babies' and more inside dish

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: January 31, 2014 - 9:26 AM

The inside dish from the Star Tribune's daily political newsletter.

To sign up for tasty political bites in your inbox, go to StarTribune.com/membercenter, check the Politics newsletter box and save the change.

Boozy talk

Every year, the Minnesota Legislature debates, then rejects, the idea of lifting the state’s ban on Sunday alcohol sales. This year’s debate could be different, says House Speaker Paul Thissen. “I don’t know if it’s going to be the year, (but) I think there’s going to be a better discussion than there ever has before,” Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said. Thissen said his members are seeing more organized support for the idea of Sunday sales – visit sundaysalesmn.org for one example – than there has been in the past. Still, the House last year rejected legalization by a vote of 106-21 and “that’s a lot of votes to turn,” Thissen said. “I don’t know how that’s going to play.” -- Jennifer Brooks

Abiding

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Chris Dahlberg said over the weekend that if he doesn’t get his party’s endorsement, he would drop out of the race. On Thursday, fellow Republican U.S. Senate candidate Julianne Ortman said she would follow suit. “I will trust and abide by the Republican endorsement decision,” she said. Candidates Mike McFadden and Jim Abeler have left open the possibility they will run in a primary even if they don’t get the GOP nod at the party’s convention the last week in May. All four, and some more, are vying to face Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken in November.

‘Watergate babies’ fade away

 With California Congressman Henry Waxman planning to retire, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (at left) could be one of the last "Watergate babies” still in Congress. The so-called babies are the Democrats elected to Congress in 1974 in the wake of President Nixon's resignation over the Watergate scandal. Four of the six still in office will retire at the end of 2014. If Nolan wins re-election in November, only he and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont will remain come 2015. But unlike Leahy, Nolan hasn’t been around Capitol Hill since the mid-1970s; he was out of office between 1981 and 2013. -– Corey Mitchell

Direct access means no access

Gary Carlson, longtime lobbyist for the League of Minnesota Cities, tweeted the news from an event Thursday in which a panel of legislative leaders appeared before lobbyists. Carlson reported:  “(House Minority Leader Kurt) Daudt tells crowd that the Capitol remodel has direct access from chamber to caucus rooms. Room of lobbyists moan.”

Klobuchar urges vote on Luger nomination

Noting that Minnesota has gone 883 days without a full-time U.S. attorney, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is pressing for a full Senate vote on nominee Andrew Luger’s confirmation. With support from Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken, the Senate Judiciary Committee cleared Luger’s nomination nearly three week ago. “We need to move ahead on this,” Klobuchar said on the Senate floor Thursday. Luger would succeed B. Todd Jones, who served as both Minnesota’s U.S. attorney and acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for two years until the Senate confirmed him as ATF director in July. -– Corey Mitchell

Get the inside dish and a round up of politics stories from the Star Tribune and elsewhere every weekday morning. To sign up, go to StarTribune.com/membercenter, check the Politics newsletter box and save the change.

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