Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken picked up an early union endorsement.
The Minnesota AFL-CIO General Board voted to back the two Democrats for reelection, saying both were strong advocates for working Minnesotans.
“As governor, Mark Dayton is working to build a better Minnesota through successful job creation strategies, restoring fairness to our tax system, strengthening education, and supporting the rights of working people to bargain collectively,” said Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson.
“Al Franken, with a 98 percent AFL-CIO voting record, has demonstrated time and time again that he can be counted on to be a champion for working families in the United States Senate,” she said.
Both candidates have relied heavily on union support in the past, both money and manpower. In past elections, Minnesota’s union members put in thousands of hours on the phone and at the door, volunteering to help elect endorsed candidates.
The AFL-CIO elected board represents more than 300,000 union members throughout the state of Minnesota.
Jeff Johnson, a Republican candidate for governor, and his wife earned $227,000 last year and paid $55,000 in federal, state and other taxes, according to information he released to the Star Tribune.
Johnson is the third candidate in the 2014 governor's race to release his tax information. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican candidate Dave Thompson, a state senator, released their tax information at the Star Tribune's request last week.
Republican candidate for governor Scott Honour is expected to release his tax information this week, according to his campaign. Kurt Zellers, a fourth Republican candidate and a current state House member, has yet to fully respond to the Star Tribune's request for his tax records.
Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, and wife donated $14,205 last year, according to his federal tax form.
Dayton, an heir to the Dayton's department store fortune, donated $1,000 in 2012 of his income of $343,234. Asked about his low dollar donations, the governor said, "I'm disappointed in myself."
Republican Marty Seifert, who ran for governor in 2010 and has been upfront about his interest in running again, says politicos should circle Nov. 21 on their calendars.
"I could be announcing anything," he said of his announcement at 1:30 p.m. in the State Office Building. "I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise."
But for Seifert, a former House minority leader from Marshall, there should be little surprise. He has left little doubt over the past few months that he's very interested in running for governor. On Tuesday, MinnPost cited sources saying Seifert would announce on Nov. 21; last week, the Morning Take newsletter said Seifert would announce on Nov. 18.
Last month, he came in third as a write-in candidate at the Minnesota Republican Party's straw poll for governor.
Before that showing, Seifert said: “I’d be leery of wanting to be the winner because they never go on to be the nominee."
Seifert won the 2009 gubernatorial straw poll and lost the 2010 endorsement for governor to Tom Emmer.
GOP lawmakers countered Gov. Mark Dayton's criticism of the "political gamesmanship" he claims influenced a Wednesday order to suspend future discharges from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.
Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said in a statement that despite the move, Dayton "continues to recklessly disregard the safety of Minnesotans by supporting the release of serial rapist Thomas Duvall."
Dayton's camp has maintained the governor never supported Duvall's release but backed Department of Human Services commissioner Lucinda Jesson's position not to oppose it.
Zellers' words were the latest in a back-and-forth between the two. Zellers last week called a board's recommendation to release Duvall from MSOP wrongheaded and dangerous Dayton's staff countered that Zellers, a former House speaker and gubernatorial candidate, failed to address MSOP issues as Speaker legislators.
In his own statement, House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, cited a letter he sent last month to Reps. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, and Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, who serve on the House Health and Human Services Policy and Finance Committees. The letter asked for help in developing a bipartisan solution to MSOP. Thissen said he hadn't yet received a response, but that "I take them at their word they are interested" working across the aisle.
In a joint statement, neither Mack or Zerwas addressed Thissen's request but expressed concern that Dayton "reaffirmed his support for the release of Thomas Duvall and other sex offenders."
Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge, lauded the governor's decision, which also included halting transfers of MSOP offenders to a less-secure facility in his city.
"While Gov. Dayton expressed his concern with legislators providing input on MSOP, I would kindly remind the Governor that as representatives of the people, lawmakers ought to be more thoroughly consulted on issues like this program in the future." Johnson said.
Gov. Mark Dayton acknowledged Wednesday that he was embarrassed by the tax return he released Tuesday that showed he had given only $1,000 to charity despite total earnings of $343,234 last year, according to his tax returns released this week.
"I pride myself on my charitable giving and I'm disappointed in myself.” Dayton said at the end of a briefing with reporters on another issue. “I totaled it up and noticed I had fallen off, so I will remedy that."
The drop was significant from 2009, when Dayton, then a gubernatorial candidate, earned $172,475 mostly from family trusts, and donated nearly $27,000 of that to charity.
In addition to his $116,125 state salary in 2012, Dayton received $92,381 from a family trust and $130,291 from capital gains.
Dayton gave $1,750 to charity in 2011, when his earnings totaled $342,322.
Dave Thompson, the only Republican candidate running against Dayton to release his tax return, declared joint income with his wife of $198,322. His family gave $20,465 to charity.
Dayton's mea culpa came on the eve of Give to the Max Day in Minnesota, a 24-hour fundraiser for schools and nonprofits by GiveMN.org that features matching grants.