The Alliance for a Better Minnesota has found a new Democratic operative to direct its operation through the election, the group announced.
Ben Goldfarb, who ran Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's first campaign and has been active in other campaigns, will guide the big spending Democratic interest group as a senior strategic advisor. Goldfarb is currently the executive director of Wellstone Action, which trains "progressive" candidates.
Carrie Lucking, who has directed the Alliance since 2011, is leaving to work for Education Minnesota. This is her last week at the Alliance.
Education Minnesota spent nearly $5 million on political causes since 2008, including donating at least $660,000 to the Alliance's funders. The Alliance has spent more than $10 million since 2007 to get Minnesota Democrats elected.
Alliance for a Better Minnesota has already run a major television ad promoting Gov. Mark Dayton's re-elected and earlier this month ran online ads going after Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden.
Joe Davis, the Alliance's deputy director, will run the group's day-to-day operations, Alliance Communications Director Emily Bisek said.
UPDATE: The McFadden campaign has reposted the ad online without the USA Hockey logo visible. View it here.
A campaign advertisement in which Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden discusses removing his son's stitches with a pair of scissors has been scrubbed from the internet following concerns from USA Hockey about the appearance of their logo.
The advertisement, which has already finished its broadcast run, featured McFadden’s eldest son, Conor, telling the story about his father removing the stitches from a childhood hockey injury with a pair of scissors to save the $100 cost. McFadden said he intends to “take out Obamacare.”
“Send me to Washington and give me some scissors. I'll put 'em to work,” McFadden says at the ad’s close. McFadden, who is challening Democratic Sen. Al Franken, is known for his irreverent ads. The campaign has also used hockey imagery before.
In the advertisement, Conor McFadden sits next to a hockey table with a USA Hockey logo emblazoned on the side. However, the ad appeared to have vanished from the internet.
McFadden spokesman Tom Erickson said they removed the advertisements after they were contacted by USA Hockey.
“They had gotten some calls from people who had seen the ad online and thought the organization was supporting Mike. This happened after the ad already ran its course on broadcast.” Erickson said.
After the confusion, Erickson said the videos were removed “out of an abundance of caution.”
Mike Bertsch, assistant executive director of marketing and communications for USA Hockey, confirmed the organization's request for the campaign to remove the ads from the internet.
"We just don't allow our mark to be utilized in any capacity in any political activity; obviously we're neutral on the topic," he said. "Nothing against anybody, but we just can't allow the use of our marks like that."
Here's a still from the ad:
After months of running a relatively-low key campaign, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken has for the first time called out his Republican challenger Mike McFadden in a broadcast advertisement, saying that the businessman’s attempts at humor disguise his lack of substance.
Meanwhile, the McFadden campaign is firing back at Franken’s claims of bipartisanship in the same ad, describing him instead as nothing other than a party-line voter and President Obama loyalist.
The most recent poll shows Franken with a nine-point lead over McFadden.
The dueling advertisements are the latest in the escalating war of words between the candidates.
Last week McFadden launched his third broadcast ad which features a Franken lookalike unsuccessfully attempting to back a trailered boat down a ramp, saying Franken “missed the mark” by voting with Obama. A previous hockey-themed targeted cable ad in the run-up to McFadden's May endorsement also called out Franken.
The new Franken ad, meanwhile, claims McFadden’s ads, which have featured what appears to be a punch to the groin and do-it-yourself health care, “try to be funny,” while attacking him, but that Franken has a track record of reaching across the aisle.
As soon as learning of the advertisement, McFadden’s campaign decried the advertisement.
“Al Franken, who votes with President Obama 97 percent of the time, is the most loyal, partisan Democrat in Washington. That is a fact,” said McFadden spokesman Tom Erickson. “For Senator Franken to make the audacious claim that he is bipartisan is a whopper of a lie.”
According to the Washington Post, Franken, along with 10 other Democratic Senators, voted along party lines 99 percent of the time.
Franken spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff stood by the advertisement.
"Investment banker Mike McFadden is misleading Minnesotans, and voters deserve to know the truth about Sen. Franken's record of bipartisan accomplishment in the Senate. Whether it’s jobs and workforce development, passing a Farm Bill, taking on Wall Street or helping kids with mental health issues."
Franken apologized on Thursday for a 2012 video in which he was featured holding up a pair of traffic cones to his chest to resemble breasts, telling Minnesota Public Radio that it was “A thoughtless moment and I regret it.”
McFadden and the Minnesota Republican Party called on Franken to apologize for the video after First District congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn had to issue an apology of his own for years-old blog posts that lambasted gays, Native Americans and women.
Franken’s most recent apology didn’t appear to appease McFadden’s campaign.
“For Minnesotans, this is déjà vu all over again.” said McFadden press secretary Becky Alery. “Senator Franken promised that he would keep his head down, but his reluctant apology shows that he hasn’t changed one bit and remains unfit for office.”
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.