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 1st District

Sens. Franken, Klobuchar push VA on Minnesota wait times

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: May 27, 2014 - 4:51 PM

By Allison Sherry

With help from Rachel Stassen-Berger

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar joined a chorus Friday in criticizing the Veterans Administration and pressed the regional office on wait times for medical appointments in Minnesota's clinics and hospitals.

"The incidents that have been reported at VA facilities in Arizona and elsewhere are outrageous and entirely unacceptable," the two wrote in a letter to Janet Murphy, network director for the VA Midwest Health Care Network in Minnesota.

Franken and Klobuchar specifically asked Murphy for the average number of days veterans must wait to receive appointments at every VA facility in Minnesota.

One of Franken's GOP opponents Mike McFadden pinged the senator earlier Friday for keeping quiet on the VA scandal, in which more than two dozen hospitals and clinics face allegations of long wait times and false record-keeping. In Phoenix, there are allegations the missteps caused multiple deaths.

"Criticizing mergers and talking about Internet fast lanes may generate headlines for Sen. Franken, but it does nothing to guarantee that our veterans have access to quality healthcare when they need it," said McFadden, in an e-mailed statement. He also called for Shinseki's resignation. "Minnesota doesn't need any more out-of-touch politicians like Al Franken."

Franken's office said that two weeks ago, in the wake of the news about several alleged incidents at VA medical centers in Arizona and elsewhere, the senator directed his office to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to find more information about the wait times for medical care.

Franken and Klobuchar's letter went out the same day Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan called for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation.

Democratic Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz didn't go that far Friday, instead calling for a "national review" of all VA medical facilities. Walz is a veteran and member of the Veteran's Affairs committee.

GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen has not called for resignation. Rep. John Kline scribed an op-ed on VA issues earlier this week in a local paper, which stopped short of calling for a resignation. Rep. Michele Bachmann, on Fox News, called for his resignation. 

All week, Minnesota Republican Congressional candidates blasted Democrats on the scandal. On Thursday, Republican 7th Congressional District candidate Torrey Westrom and 8th Congressional District Stewart Mills also called for Shinseki’s resignation. First District Republican Jim Hagedorn’s campaign sent out a release titled, “Obama-Walz have let down veterans."

Hank Sadler, chair of Veterans for Walz, sharply criticized the "partisan" attacks. 

"It's despicable that Republicans running for Congress would use veterans' lives in a blatant attempt to score cheap political points. They should be ashamed," he said, in an email.

Update:

First District Republican Aaron Miller had also blasted Walz on May 21, with a release titled, "Our veterans deserve better, President Obama and Congressman Walz are failing them."

On May 27, Kline said: "General Shinseki is a decorated Vietnam veteran and I appreciate his service to our country, but the entire leadership of the VA must be held accountable which is why I’m calling on him to resign – and if he doesn’t, the President should relieve him of his duties."

Walz backs subpoena of VA secretary over 'secret waiting list'

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: May 8, 2014 - 12:30 PM

The U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, including Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, voted today to subpoena VA Secretary Eric Shinseki over allegations of widespread misconduct at a Phoenix medical center that may have led to the deaths of up to 40 veterans.

The Shinseki subpoena will cover e-mails that allegedly discussed the destruction of a 'secret waiting list' of veterans who died while waiting for care at the hospital.

“The allegations coming out of the Phoenix VA are extremely troubling and, while the independent Inspector General is conducting their own investigation, it’s important for Congress to continue to provide oversight as well,” Walz said in a statement.

Committee chairman, Republican Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, said the panel tried to contact VA brass numerous times, requesting copies of correspondence related to wait times at the Phoenix hospital.

“The subpoena was necessary because the previous response from VA was not sufficient for the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee to conduct proper oversight,” said Walz, a veteran of the Army National Guard.

On Monday, Concerned Veterans for America, a group led by former Minnesota U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hegseth, called for Shinseki's resignation.

Shinseki has said that he will not resign over the allegations.

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.

U.S. House and Senate fundraising figures

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: April 16, 2014 - 10:56 AM

Here’s a look at what U.S. House and Senate candidates raised during the first fundraising quarter of 2014 and how much cash on hand their campaigns had at the end of March.

Candidate name

District

Party

 Q1 Fundraising

 Cash on Hand

Aaron Miller

First

Republican

 $47,500

 $43,164

Tim Walz, incumbent

First

Democrat

 $195,000

 $411,216

John Kline, incumbent

Second

Republican

 $270,817

 $1,660,000

Thomas Craft

Second

Democrat

 $5,506  $2,966

Mike Obermueller

Second

Democrat

 $81,148

 $238,211

Paula Overby

Second

Democrat

   

Erik Paulsen, incumbent

Third

Republican

 $431,763

 $1,979,136

Sharon Sund

Third

Democrat

 $33,578

 $28,835

Betty McCollum, incumbent

Fourth

Democrat

 $144,652

 $214,079

Keith Ellison, incumbent

Fifth

Democrat

 $288,043

 $229,460

Thomas Emmer

Sixth

Republican

 $206,094

 $252,738

Philip Krinke

Sixth

Republican

 $62,057  $315,744

Rhonda Sivarajah

Sixth

Republican

 $172,759  $214,808

Joe Perske

Sixth

Democrat

   

James Read

Sixth

Democrat

 $26,711  $34,171

Torrey Westrom

Seventh

Republican

 $136,924  $170,729

Collin Peterson, incumbent

Seventh

Democrat

 $218,000

 $522,650

Stewart Mills III

Eighth

Republican

 $203,000

 $355,738

Rick Nolan, incumbent

Eighth

Democrat

 $265,772

 $478,000

Jim Abeler

Senate

Republican

   

Chris Dahlberg

Mike McFadden

Senate

Senate

Republican

Republican

 $600,000

 $1,800,000

Julianne Ortman

Senate

Republican

   

Al Franken, incumbent

Senate

Democrat

 $2,722,189

 $5,933,851

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