According to Federal Election Commission data, Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District race has attracted the most money from outside groups so far.
The contest between Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican Stewart Mills has already seen nearly $1.4 million in PAC spending, with much of it coming from Nolan supporters, such as the House Majority Fund and the AFSCME union.
In contrast, the race for the Seventh Congressional District seat, which Republican Torrey Westrom hopes to snatch from longtime Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, has only seen $245,000 in independent expenditures. Interestingly, the last filing documenting outside spending in that race was from eight months ago.
Minnesota's U.S. Senate race, so far, has drawn relatively little interest from independent spenders. According to FEC filings, outside groups have spent about $140,000 to weigh in on the battle between Democratic Sen. Al Franken and Republican Mike McFadden.
The FEC calculations only include expenditures that represent, "spending by individual people, groups, political committees, corporations or unions expressly advocating the election or defeat of clearly identified federal candidates."
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Massachusetts congressman Joe Kennedy III will visit Minnesota on Thursday to headline a campaign rally and fundraiser for colleague Rick Nolan, who faces a tough re-election race this fall.
Kennedy, son of former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II and grandson of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York, is expected to draw a large crowd to Carmody’s Irish Pub.
Kennedy and Nolan will also attend a private fundraiser at a residence St. Paul and a meet-and-greet at Everyday Joe Coffee and Café in North Branch.
A rising star on Capitol Hill, Kennedy has launched a leadership PAC to help colleagues in need of campaign cash and Nolan has been among the beneficiaries.
During Nolan’s first go-around in Congress in the 1970s and early 1980s, he was an ally of Kennedy’s great uncle, former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.
The Cook Political Report considers the race between Nolan and Republican challenger Stewart Mills III a toss-up.
Both Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken are leading their Republican challengers, Jeff Johnson and Mike McFadden, in a new poll released this week.
The SurveyUSA poll was commissioned by KSTP-TV. The poll of 600 likely voters was taken Aug. 8-21.
In the governor's race, DFLer Dayton led Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, 49 percent to 40 percent. Hannah Nicollet, the Independence Party's candidate, had support from 3 percent of respondents, while 5 percent were undecided.
Franken is sitting on an even wider lead over McFadden, a first-time candidate. Franken, first elected by an extremely thin margin in 2008, is backed by 51 percent of respondents compared to 42 percent for McFadden. The Independence Party's Steve Carlson was backed by 2 percent while 3 percent were undecided.
The margin of sampling error in both cases was plus or minus 4.1 percent.
Franken's approval rating in the poll was 56 percent positive, while 35 percent disapproved of his performance. But the news wasn't all good for Democrats: the poll found that 52 percent disapprove of President Barack Obama's performance, while just 38 percent approve. The margin of error in those cases was plus or minus 3.7 percent.
One day after Republican Congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn apologized for a series of blog posts written years ago that lambasted women, American Indians, gays and national political figures, Minnesota GOP leaders called on the state’s DFL party chair to apologize for a 2012 video in which Sen. Al Franken was shown appearing to sport a pair of traffic cones as breasts. The video came to light earlier this year.
The news conference also ended abruptly when State Republican Party Chair Keith Downey walked out when asked to clarify whether the party approached endorsed Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald and asked her to renounce her endorsement.
“If you had to stack up the politicians in Minnesota, Al Franken would be at the top of the list for those who have issued offensive comments or actions,” Downey said at a news conference Monday morning. “It is time for him to apologize for those, and it is time for Democrat chairman Ken Martin to call on him to apologize as well.”
Martin condemned Hagedorn’s remarks as “outrageous and offensive,” but he wasn’t alone. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden also called on Hagedorn to apologize, saying “His writings do not reflect Minnesota values.”
Hagedorn, who initially defended his remarks, apologized Sunday.
In an open letter to Martin, Republican Minnesota state Sen. Michelle Fischbach and Reps. Marion O’Neill, Joyce Peppin, Cindy Pugh and Peggy Scott demanded the apology, saying “This wasn’t some ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit from yesteryear—this video was from an event in 2012.”
“I am so offended, not only this but his pattern of behavior to degrade women and to put women down,” said O’Neill, who along with Scott joined Downey at the news conference. “We are in 2014. I think it’s time to apologize, And it’s time to move forward and it’s time to stop this terrible behavior.”
Downey said that when the video first surfaced in 2012, the Republicans. “brought it to light a number of times” through social media, but never demanded an apology until Martin called on Hagedorn to do so.
“The hypocrisy jumped out at us, so today is the day,” he said, adding that “the standard has been set” with Hagedorn’s apology.
Scott called Hagedorn’s apology, which also lashed out at Franken, “sincere and heartfelt,”
“I think he genuinely is apologetic and remorseful about the comments that he made,” she said.
The news conference ended abruptly when Downey refused to discuss the latest developments surrounding GOP-endorsed Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald, who awaits trial next month for charges of drunken driving and resisting arrest.
MacDonald, who was barred from the party’s State Fair booth and removed by security last week, said she was approached by a party representative and asked to reject her endorsement, but refused. The same day, Downey issued a letter blasting MacDonald. A Republican party spokeswoman denied MacDonald was approached on behalf of the party.
"I have a deal from the party for you" one of the text messages read, according to the website.
Asked about the text messages and phone call, Downey maintained that the state GOP did not approach MacDonald with the request to reject the endorsement. Asked whether Burns was not telling the truth, Downey walked out without comment as reporters continued asking questions.
The congressional campaigns of Republicans Stewart Mills III and Torrey Westrom are picking up more national attention.
An ABC News piece on the five “most interesting” 2014 GOP U.S. House candidates features Mills, labeled the “Republican Brad Pitt,” and Westrom, whom the piece dubbed “the sightless [state] senator who’s never lost an election.”
Mills is challenging Democrat Rick Nolan in the Eighth District and Westrom faces Democrat Collin Peterson in the Seventh District.
Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call ran a story on the Westrom-Peterson race Tuesday suggesting this could be the toughest re-election race yet for Peterson, who’s seeking a 13th term in Congress.
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