A Washington, D.C.-based group is launching a campaign that seeks to link Republican U.S. Reps. Erik Paulsen and John Kline to the Tea Party.
Americans United for Change is trying to tie 47 swing-district Republicans around the nation, to the conservative movement with “Tea Stained,” a legislative scorecard that ranks lawmakers by votes the group sees as aligned with Tea Party values.
The analysis includes 48 U.S. House votes, including votes to defund the Affordable Care Act and those taken during the government shutdown to fund some parts but not all of the government.
The group argues that Paulsen voted with the Tea Party 83 percent of the time in 2013 while Kline’s loyalty score was slightly lower at 79 percent – and that their voting tendencies don’t differ much from U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, founder of the congressional Tea Party caucus.
“Voters deserve better. Whether they embrace the Tea Party ideology or despise it or fall anywhere in between, they have a right to know where their elected representatives fall on the Tea Party spectrum - not where they say they fall, but how they actually vote,” said Americans United for Change President Brad Woodhouse in a statement.
“What it proves, unfortunately for non-extremists who are represented by Republicans, is that there is no longer a meaningful distinction between the Tea Party and the Republican Party in American politics today.”
The label may not stick for Kline and Paulsen. Neither is officially affiliated with the tea party movement.
Kline already has a Tea Party-backed candidate, David Gerson, challenging him for the Republican endorsement in the Second District, which covers the suburbs and exurbs south of the Twin Cities. Paulsen represents the Third District, which includes most of the western Minneapolis suburbs.
Amid the Tea Party's sagging national popularity, Americans United for Change views both Kline and Paulsen as vulnerable this election cycle because President Obama narrowly won both of the districts, which include a sizeable share of independent and Democratic voters, in 2012.
The scorecard is "highly unreliable at best," said Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey. "Clearly, it's just a campaign tactic. If their point is that John Kline and Erik Paulsen voted pretty consistently against Obamacare, that's not a bad thing."
Kline and Paulsen did not respond to requests for comment.
The Minnesota Republican Party and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann favored Domino's. Ron Paul's presidential campaign preferred American Pie.
And last year, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and northern Minnesota Democratic congressional hopeful Jeff Anderson went for Pizza Luce while U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who bested Anderson in a primary, bestowed Sammy's Pizza in both Hibbing and Duluth with his business.
Since Minnesotans can get as passionate about pizza choices as they are about politics, Hot Dish asked the Center for Responsive Politics to generate a list of all the pizza purchases from Minnesota's federal campaigns of late.
Check out the map of pizza payments below and perform your own pizza partisanship on the data here.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen used a hearing on the rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange to call attention to what he considers a flawed law that threatens to leave more Americans without care because of high premiums.
Paulsen and others grilled Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, about the HealthCare.gov website – and the policy that created it -- during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. Her agency was tasked with building and operating the site.
The website is supposed to allow uninsured people to sign up and register for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health care reform law, but the site has been plagued by problems that have prevented people from completing applications.
“Many independent analysts … have been predicting the higher premiums, these cancellations would be coming, you weren’t going to be able to keep your doctor or your health insurance even though the promise was laid out by the president,” Paulsen told Tavenner. “Directly from our constituents, we’re hearing about these challenges.”
Tavenner apologized to Americans, saying the exchange’s flaws are “not acceptable” and vowed the site “can and would” be fixed by the end of November.
“How do you know the schedule is going to be kept?” Paulsen asked. “What happens if you miss November 30?”
In defending the website, Tavenner said the “system is working, it’s just not working as smoothly or as consistently as we want.”
The flawed debut of the insurance exchange is tarnishing the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s domestic policy centerpiece designed to offer medical coverage to most of the nation’s uninsured.
Paulsen and other members of the Republican-led House have voted more than 40 times to repeal or defund the 2010 health care law. Now, after three years of trying to dismantle the law generally known as Obamacare, Republican lawmakers are now seizing on the website’s troubles.
But their efforts haven't come without criticism.
“It’s really rich for Republicans to be shedding crocodile tears over the glitches in the website when they have done nothing for four years but try to impede, repeal and defund the law and root for its failure,” said Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change, a liberal advocacy group.
“Are we really to believe Congressman Paulsen gives a spit that Americans are having trouble enrolling in a health plan? This is a transparent attempt by Republicans to score political points around road bumps in the health law’s implementation.”
Tavenner also faced questions from committee members about the administration’s claims that everything was on track for a successful launch. As recently as September, she predicted a smooth rollout.
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann was among the House Republicans who signed a letter to President Obama last week, calling for the resignation of Tavenner’s boss -- Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius’s -- because of problems with the website.
Last week, her agency hired contractor Quality Software Services Inc., a subsidiary of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group Inc., to be the general manager for the effort to fix the troubled website.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen will hear from Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, today about the rocky rollout of the HealthCare.gov website during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Capitol Hill.
The website is supposed to allow uninsured people to sign up and register for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health care reform law, but the site has been plagued by problems.
Tavenner will be the first Obama administration official to testify before Congress about the efforts of her agency to implement the law. Her agency, which had experience running a site for Medicare drug plans, was tasked with responsibility for the site. Last week, the agency hired contractor Quality Software Services Inc., a subsidiary of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group Inc., to be the general manager for the effort to fix the troubled website.
Tavenner likely will face questions from Paulsen and others about the administration’s claims that everything was on track for a successful launch.
Congressional incumbents in two potential swing districts, U.S. Reps. John Kline and Tim Walz, have healthy fundraising leads over their announced opponents.
In the Second Congressional District, Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline has more than $1.3 million stocked away for his re-election campaign after raising $367,000 during the third quarter.
Kline’s Republican challenger, David Gerson, raised $2,085 during the quarter and has $2,000 banked for his bid, according to data filed with the Federal Election Commission. Gerson challenged Kline in last year’s Republican primary, capturing 15 percent of the vote.
Among the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, attorney Mike Obermueller of Eagan raised $73,000 during the quarter, which includes the months of July, August and September. He has $119,000 cash on hand.
Obermueller is making a second run at Kline after losing to him by eight percentage points in last year’s election. But with roughly a year to go until Election Day 2014, Kline’s war chest is 11 times larger than Obermueller’s.
The second district covers the suburbs south of the Twin Cities.
The campaign finance reports for Democratic candidates, Thomas Craft and Paula Overby, were not available on the FEC website Tuesday afternoon.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz has $238,500 banked for his 2014 re-election bid in southern Minnesota’s First Congressional District after raising $176,648 during the third quarter.
Among the three Republicans seeking to oust Walz, state Rep. Mike Benson of Rochester has $14,707 stockpiled for the race and businessman Aaron Miller of Byron has $54,714 banked. Blue Earth businessman Jim Hagedorn’s finance report was not available on the FEC website Tuesday afternoon.
Benson raised $28,158 during the quarter. Miller loaned his campaign $40,000 and collected another $16,127 in donations.
In the state’s Eight Congressional District, Republican challenger Stewart Mills raised almost $244,000 during the quarter, with Mills and his wife contributing about $10,000 of that total, his campaign reported. Incumbent Democrat Rick Nolan’s campaign finance reports were not available on the FEC website Tuesday afternoon.
Four of Minnesota’s representatives – Democrats Keith Ellison in the Fifth District, Betty McCollum in the Fourth District and Collin Peterson in the Seventh District and Republican Erik Paulsen – do not have announced opponents.
Paulsen raised more than $376,000 and has more than $1.5 million in the bank. Ellison raised $309,000 and has $186,248 stockpiled. McCollum collected $99,219 and has $89,076 in the bank. Peterson has about $227,000 cash-on-hand after raising $83,000 during the quarter.
Click here for campaign finance reports from the Sixth Congressional District, where Rep. Michele Bachmann will not seek re-election.
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