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, J. Patrick Coolican, Patricia Lopez, Ricardo Lopez, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Corey Mitchell, Allison Sherry and Jim Spencer.

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Rep. Betty McCollum praises National Guard for dropping Earnhardt sponsorship

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: August 7, 2014 - 3:48 PM

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum praised the National Guard Thursday after it announced earlier this week it would end its $32 million annual sponsorship of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and its $12 million contract with IndyCar driver Graham Rahal.

The money was meant to boost recruiting, but Pentagon officials were never able to verify the program actually yielded any new recruits.

McCollum, from her perch on the defense appropriations sub-committee, has criticized the program for several yearsIn 2012, she found Republican support in ending the program in Rep. Jack Kingston, a Republican from Georgia.

It was unclear Thursday whether the Pentagon would do away completely with NASCAR sponsorships. The announcement was only about Earnhardt and Rahal. McCollum's office said the Pentagon also uses taxpayer-funded "marketing" money on professional fishing, motocross, World Wrestling Entertainment and cage fighting.

“Cancelling this NASCAR racing team contract is a victory for taxpayers and I’m pleased to say the National Guard has finally made the correct decision," said McCollumn, who represents St. Paul, in a statement. "Paying one race car driver $32 million in taxpayer funds year after year to put a logo on his car has been a complete waste of tax dollars."

Westrom campaign touted in weekly Republican address

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: August 4, 2014 - 1:38 PM

The head of the National Republican Congressional Committee used Saturday’s GOP weekly address to tout four congressional candidates, including Minnesota state Sen. Torrey Westrom.

Rep. Greg Walden urged voters to support Westrom and the other Republican candidates to bring accountability to Washington, D.C., and send a message to President Obama and congressional Democrats.

“As our campaign chairman, I can tell you our candidates for the House are people just as frustrated as you are; they are leaders who are ready to serve,” Walden said.

"Up in Minnesota, Torrey Westrom is talking to Minnesota families and farmers about the anti-energy policies and taxes that are making it harder for them to get by.”

Westrom is challenging 12-term Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson in the Seventh Congressional District.

"This November, Americans can reject the complacency and incompetence and begin to restore a government that works for us and not against us," Walden said.

St. Paul radio host honored at White House

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: July 28, 2014 - 3:31 PM

WASHINGTON -- A St. Paul spiritual radio host received the National Humanities Medal at the White House Monday.

Krista Tippett hosts "On Being" a syndicated radio show exploring faith issues that broadcasts on more than 300 radio stations. Tippett was among a handful of artists, critics, historians and filmmakers who were honored by President Barack Obama Monday as Humanities and Medal of Arts winners.

Tippett gave an interview to the Star Tribune about her honor last week. She says she never interviews "sitting"politicians and didn't plan to press the president with any questions while in Washington today.

Among the other winners:

  • M.H. Abrams, Literary Critic, Ithaca, NY
  • David Brion Davis, Historian, Orange, CT
  • Darlene Clark Hine, Historian, Chicago, IL
  • Anne Firor Scott, Historian, Chapel Hill, NC
  • William Theodore De Bary, East Asian studies scholar, Tappan, NY
  • Johnpaul Jones, Architect, Bainbridge, WA
  • Stanley Nelson, Filmmaker, New York, NY
  • Diane Rehm, Radio Host, Washington, D.C.

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar heads back to Iowa

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: July 21, 2014 - 10:11 AM

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar is heading to Iowa in August.

The senator has plans to campaign for Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley who is vying against GOP state Sen. Joni Ernst in an open seat.

A Klobuchar aide confirmed over the weekend that Minnesota's senior senator would be campaigning for Braley Aug. 23. 

Iowa is the first-in-the-nation presidential primary contest, which always means the state is a veritable runway for presidential hopefuls and those with higher ambitions -- even in off-years.

The Iowa precinct caucuses are the first week of January in 2016.

Stu Rothenberg says Minnesota Senate race is more competitive, cites national mood

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: July 14, 2014 - 4:42 PM

WASHINGTON -- Citing the national mood and Minnesota's "generally competitive nature," political analyst Stu Rothenberg altered his projection of the state's November Senate race, making it slightly more competitive, from "Safe Democrat" to "Democrat Favored" Monday.

Rothenberg, who handicaps House, Senate and gubernatorial races nationally and authors the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report, said in a post Monday that the "change reflects the broad national environment" more than any advantage or disadvantage among the candidates.

Democratic incumbent Sen. Al Franken is vying for the seat against GOP businessman Mike McFadden and GOP House Rep. Jim Abeler. (Abeler and McFadden face a primary in August.)

"McFadden continues to run cutesy videos ... that focus on his coaching to introduce himself to voters, while Franken raises money and generally acts as if he has no opponent," Rothenberg writes.

Franken raised $3.3 million in the second quarter while McFadden raised $1.1 million.

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