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 Minnesota campaigns

First the primary, then the recount?

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: August 8, 2014 - 10:36 AM

On Tuesday, Minnesotans will go to the polls to cast their primary ballots.

On Wednesday, will the recount plan begin?

In Minnesota, which has seen three statewide recounts since 2008, including a little remembered Supreme Court justice race, might be headed down the path of another one. With four Republican candidates for governor vying for victory on Tuesday in a race that is expected to be low turnout, some are getting ready for the possibility.

"We have considered it, yeah," said Andy Post, campaign manager for Republican gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert. Post said he has had talks with legal counsel to be on hand the night of the election and is prepared to make sure their county-level supporters are ready in case the race moves to recount.

The Republican Party, which would be prepared to defend endorsed candidate Jeff Johnson in a recount, has also has plans in place.

"It is not impossible and with any election. We have prepared ourselves and have a team at the ready," said Republican Party chair Keith Downey. He has held meetings about the issue and has plotted out possible recount steps.

Other campaigns have given it less structured thought.

"You have to plan for every eventuality but of all the things I’m planning for right now that’s pretty far down the list," said Pat Shortridge, consultant to Scott Honour's Republican campaign for governor.

"We have made no preparation for that. We are focused on Aug. 12," said Chas Anderson, with Republican Kurt Zellers campaign for governor.

But the possibility of recount is there.

"I think there is a very high likelihood that they are all going to be clustered," said Kent Kaiser, who directed communications in the Secretary of State's office for eight years. Kaiser is now a professor of communications at University of Northwestern.

Minnesota law allows state-paid for a recount for major offices if the top candidates are less than one-quarter of one percent apart in vote tallies. If the difference is great, candidates can ask for a recount with the possibility that they would have to pay the costs.

The law even allows for a decision "by lot" if there an exact tie in vote tallies.

On Friday, the secretary of state's office announced the canvassing board that would deal with a recount and certify votes for all primary contests.

The members are:

  • "Mark Ritchie, Secretary of State, Chair
  • The Honorable G. Barry Anderson, Minnesota Supreme Court
  • The Honorable Christopher Dietzen, Minnesota Supreme Court
  • The Honorable Fred Karasov, Fourth Judicial District
  • The Honorable Lyonel Norris, Fourth Judicial District"

The board plans to meet at 10 a.m. on Aug. 19.

Photo: How 2008 canvassing board member and then-Supreme Court Justice Eric Magnuson sorted out valid votes in the U.S. Senate recount.


GOP Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald ticketed again

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: August 7, 2014 - 6:15 PM

Michelle MacDonald, the Republican-endorsed candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court, was ticketed last week for violating the terms of a limited license as she awaits trial for alleged drunken driving and resisting arrest.

he citation, filed Aug. 4 in Wright County District Court do not specify when and where she was tickted, Politics.MN, first reported that the incident occurred Aug. 1 along Interstate 94.

According to the court record, police encountered a stalled vehicle, where MacDonald was identified by a campaign sticker and the vehicle was registered to her. MacDonald told the officer she went to St. Cloud to meet her campaign manager.

"She is running for MN Supreme Court licensed attorney," the officer notes read. "No office in St. Cloud per her. Changed story a couple of time(s) then pleaded with me not to cite her."

MacDonald was ticketed for violatng the terms of a limited license, a misdemeanor. Her vehicle, which had overheated, was towed to Monticello.

MacDonald said Thursday that the incident occurred at 11 a.m., on I-94 when she was within her restrictions of driving from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. She said she flagged down help and was approached by a Minnesota State trooper.

"He never took my driver's license or ID But I showed him some campaign materials on my passenger seat and told him I was running for Supreme Court Justice." MacDonald said, adding that she was never told why she received the ticket.

MacDonald, a family law attorney who was endorsed at the Republican Party's convention in May, faces trial in September for a 2013 arrest in which police allege she resisted arrest and refused a breath test after an officer said he smelled alcohol during a traffic stop. The state's GOP leadership said they did not know about the arrest when delegates endorsed MacDonald, but most members of the party's Judicial Election Committee have remained steadfast in their support while criticizing party leadership for not backing her. Members of the committee say they were aware of MacDonald's pending case when they presented her for endorsement. MacDonald is running against Justice David Lillehaug, who was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

"We were impressed by her qualifications and believed that her candidacy and message would 'go viral' because of the abuse she has received at the hands of the judges, prosecutors and other employees of the Dakota County judicial system." read a recent e-mail to delegates signed by most committee members.

Johnson blasts Capitol office plan, again; Zellers hits Johnson on taxes

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: August 7, 2014 - 1:15 PM

As construction workers milled at the site of a new state Senate office building by the Capitol, GOP candidate for governor Jeff Johnson held a press conference off to the side to renew his frequent criticism of the project.

Johnson and three other Republicans are in the final sprint toward Tuesday's primary election, where the party will pick its opponent for DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. Around the same time Johnson criticized the office building as wasteful and tried to link it to Dayton, he drew a rebuke over taxes from GOP opponent Kurt Zellers.

"Jeff Johnson is carrying the same tired ideas that Mark Dayton tried to force on Minnesotans just last year," read a press release from Zellers, the former House speaker. It's a reference to a May 2013 interview in MinnPost where Johnson expressed support for lowering the overall sales tax rate but shrinking the number of products and services exempt from it. That's similar to a tax reform proposal from Dayton in early 2013 that he later abandoned. 

Johnson cited his strong rating from the Minnesota Taxpayers League and his record on the Hennepin County Board as evidence for his opposition to tax increases. He said he would seek to cut taxes as governor, and would veto any tax increase from the Legislature. 

"Kurt's probably recognized that he's a ways behind and needs to go on the attack," said Johnson, whose endorsement from the state GOP has contributed to a view among many Republicans that he has a slight edge heading toward Tuesday's vote. The other two contenders are Scott Honour, a businessman and political newcomer, and Marty Seifert, the former House minority leader. 

Johnson said he preferred to focus his criticism on Dayton, not fellow Republicans. It was Johnson's second press conference at the site of the new Capitol office building in less than six weeks. He called the project, being built with $77 million in taxpayer funds, "symbolic of Dayton's priorities." 

The Minnesota DFL noted that several prominent Republican lawmakers, Sen. Dave Senjem and Rep. Matt Dean, were involved in the official process around moving the project forward, and voted in favor of hiring an architect and construction company. 

Dean, in response to the DFL criticism, said while he did serve on the appointed panel that signed off on hiring an architect and contractor, that he has repeatedly stated his larger opposition to proceeding with the building . He said he didn't feel the state should specifically penalize architects or contractors for a project that had already been approved. 

Johnson said if he were to become governor, he would seek to cancel construction if it's not too far along. If the state has already invested tens of millions, he said, he would try to re-purpose the building for some other state use besides the Senate. 

The Honour campaign also took its turn criticizing the office building. The campaign released a video of his running mate, state Sen. Karin Housley, holding up a series of signs mocking the project. 

Energy policy a key topic at FarmFest Senate candidate forum

Posted by: Ricardo Lopez Updated: August 6, 2014 - 1:11 PM

REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. -- U.S. Senate primary candidates on Wednesday traded few barbs at a political forum on agriculture, but told farmers at FarmFest that they supported renewable energy sources such as wind and biofuels.

Appearing together for the first time were incumbent Sen. Al Franken, the DFL candidate, and Mike McFadden, the GOP-endorsed contender for U.S. Senate. Other Republican candidates who took questions were state Rep. Jim Abeler from Anoka and Iraq war veteran David Carlson. IP candidate Kevin Terrell also participated.

“We need a diverse energy portfolio,” Franken said in response to a question on how to support the development of renewable energy sources.

Energy policy, at times, dominated the forum but the candidates also touched on the labeling of genetically-modified foods and rail congestion caused by crude oil shipments.

On renewable energy, Franken said he would work to extend a wind production tax credit that expired last year.

McFadden said he supported the renewable fuel standards but sought to differentiate himself by saying that he thought coal-generated electricity was important, too.

“I support all forms of energy,” he said.

FarmFest, in its second day, has long been a proving ground for political candidates aiming to win over rural Minnesotans. Later Wednesday Congressional candidates will also talk rural and agricultural policy at the three-day event, which last year drew more than 40,000 attendees.

Eighth District ad not completely 'yanked'

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: August 6, 2014 - 1:08 PM

On Wednesday, Republican Stewart Mills bragged to supporters that his campaign got a television ad against him "yanked." But the ad is still running across the state.

The ad, from the AFSCME union and the Democratic House Majority PAC, uses tape to quote Mills as saying he is offended by the idea that high earners are not paying enough in taxes. Mills is hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in the Eighth District.

"The idea that the wealthy aren't paying their fair share… 2 percent, the 1 percent whatever percent you want... is personally offensive," the ad quotes Mills as saying.

After the ad was released and aired, the Mills campaign said it was misleading and spliced together sentences.

"To be singled out as a deadbeat is personally offensive," the campaign quotes Mills, a scion of the Mills Fleet Farm fortune, as actually saying.

It asked stations not to run the ad. At least two stations, owned by Hubbard Broadcasting, complied. Hubbard Broadcasting is owned by Stanley Hubbard, a Mills donor and mega-contributor to Republican and conservative causes in Minnesota and nationally.

But other stations are continuing to air the ad.

In fact, House Majority PAC communications director Matt Thornton said, and public documents make clear, the groups have bought more air time to air the ad on other stations after the Hubbard stations declined to run the ad. Thornton said since July 22, the groups have spent a combined $675,000 to run the anti-Mills ad.

The Eighth District race is on the radar for many national groups and is considered one of the most competitive in the county. Nolan has served one term after snatching the district from one-term Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack. Cravaack ousted longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar from his seat.

Here's the ad in question:

Here is the fundraising email Mills sent out:

Below is an Email I Got From My Campaign Manager by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger


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