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Tracking Minnesota’s political scene and keeping you up-to-date on those elected to serve you

Liberal group plunks down $350K for ads in Duluth against Stewart Mills

The liberal House Majority PAC just dropped $350k on Duluth TV ads targeting Eighth District Republican challenger Stewart Mills in this ad.

Mills is running against incumbent Rep. Rick Nolan in the district that stretches from Brainerd to the Canadian border.

The backstory: Mills ran two years ago and lost by a mere 1.4 percent. The rule of thumb is once you go up on TV, you need to stay up on TV. Spending his own money this time, Mills went up on TV in early August -- rarely early for a challenger, but Mills has the cash. Nolan's internals must be taking a hit. 
 
House Majority PAC is playing in a lot of Minnesota pools this fall, reserving roughly $3 million in the Minneapolis market targeting Mills, GOP candidate Jason Lewis in CD2 and Rep. Erik Paulsen in CD3.

With its future in jeopardy, Dayton sets public meeting on stalled light rail

Gov. Mark Dayton will lead a public meeting on Thursday to talk about the future of the proposed Southwest Light Rail line in Hennepin County, as state political gridlock imperils the timeline for a nearly $1.9 billion transit project. 

Metropolitan Council Chairman Adam Duininck, the Dayton appointee leading the light rail effort, said on Wednesday that planners "need a decision by August 31."

"Without local funding commitments by then, we will be forced to begin shutting down the office and project permanently," Duininck said in a statement. That would include layoff notices to about 45 employees, he said. Duininck also said the project runs out of operating cash on September 30, and contended that would lead to further delays to the tune of $1 million a week. 

The state needs to provide $135 million in order to leverage the federal funds pledged to keep the project going. But the request got snared up in legislative politics in St. Paul, where the money has emerged as a key sticking point in efforts by Dayton, GOP Speaker Kurt Daudt and DFL Senate Leader Tom Bakk to agree on a much larger package of tax cuts, transportation and infrastructure spending. 

Dayton and the legislative leaders abandoned those talks last week as the November election approaches, with all 134 legislative seats on the ballot. 

The public meeting is set for 2 p.m. at the Skjestad Room at the Department of Revenue in St. Paul. The administration invited the four legislative leaders, members of the Counties Transit Improvement Board, and business leaders. 

Daudt's spokeswoman could not immediately confirm if he would attend the meeting. Daudt has grown increasingly vocal in his criticism of the Southwest Light Rail project in recent weeks. A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said he would not be attending.