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.

Posts about Minnesota congressional

By the numbers: The $12-plus million Eighth District race

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 24, 2014 - 12:17 PM

More than $12 million has already been spent to sway the outcome of Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District election.

The vast majority, almost $9 million, has come from outside groups.

The parties, the PACs the interest groups have poured on the cash to re-elect Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan or replace him with Republican challenger Stewart Mills.

The result is that viewers of Eighth District television could see more than 100 ads in the district during the final week -- as well as dozens from supporters and the candidates for U.S. Senate, governor and down ticket races. There are so many ads flooding the northern Minnesota district that television stations are increasing the cost of ads.

Only some of those ads will be directly from U.S. House candidates. Both Nolan and Mills have raised significant cash but neither can compete with the horde of interest groups making their wishes known.

The outside money has largely gone to tear down Nolan and Mills. According to public data, groups have spent $4 million to oppose Mills and almost $3.5 million to oppose Nolan.

With expenditures of $3 million and $2.4 million, respectively, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee are the biggest investors in the district's outcome.

The Rothenberg Political Report recently changed its rating of the race to "Toss-up/Tilt Democrat".

Here's a look at the candidates' fundraising:

Updated

Democrats allege Torrey Westrom took government perks too

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: October 21, 2014 - 3:51 PM

WASHINGTON – National Republicans have spent more than $4 million on ads portraying Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson as a man of Washington, a veteran House member who got the federal government to reimburse him for flying his private plane around, lease a couple cars and take junkets.

On Tuesday, state DFL leaders fought back pointing out his GOP opponent Torrey Westrom has also cashed in on publicly supported perks and reimbursements while serving in the state legislature.

“If Sen. Westrom is going to remain silent while out of state groups smear Rep. Peterson, it’s time to hold him accountable for his record of profiting from the taxpayers,” said DFL Chair Ken Martin, in a statement.

Martin pointed out Westrom was named the seventh-highest expense collector in the Minnesota Senate in 2013 — more than doubling his annual salary in per diems, mileage, housing and travel expenses.

From 2002 to 2014, Westrom received $98,477 in per diem payments, according to state House and Senate records compiled by Democrats. In that same timeframe, he received $54,000 in district travel expenses and $119,000 on lodging expenses and $47,000 on mileage expenses.

The National Republican Congressional Committee said from 2005 to 2013, Peterson, who is running for his 13th term, spent $73,976 on money to lease two vehicles. In that same time period, Peterson reimbursed himself $139,481 in privat auto mileage and gasoline, which includes $21,535 in rembursements for his plane.

Polls have been up and down in this race, but most show Westrom and Peterson within a few points of each other. Fifty percent of voters surveyed by KSTP Oct. 3 - Oct. 6 said they supported Peterson and 41 percent said they supported Westrom with 10 percent still undecided. Then a GOP poll out last week put Westrom ahead 44-43, with 13 percent still undecided.

“This is more evidence that Democrats are worried about keeping 12-term incumbent Collin Peterson’s seat,” said Caitlin Carroll, Westrom spokeswoman in an e-mailed statement. “The facts are Congressman Peterson no longer represents western Minnesota’s values and has lost touch with this district.”

National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Tyler Houlton said: “I imagine Democrats in the state legislature will be pretty furious with DFL Chairman Martin for condemning his own party’s use of per diems that help them better represent their constituents."

Peterson’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Minnesota candidates: In profiles and photos

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 21, 2014 - 10:00 AM

For months, Star Tribune staff has traipsed along with Minnesota's statewide candidates as they campaigned.

Here's what they found of the men who will vie in November's election:

For Minnesota governor 

Democrat Mark Dayton

An A-list player in state politics for more than three decades, Dayton, 67, has had a colorful career full of highs and lows, in both public and private. On Election Day he will learn if Minnesotans are willing to give him four more years in charge of the state — or are ready to send him into retirement. -- Patrick Condon

Republican Jeff Johnson

A Hennepin County commissioner who is a former state representative and Tea Party ally, Johnson is now battling to unseat the most powerful Democrat in state office, Gov. Mark Dayton. Johnson says he offers a clear and needed alternative to the policies of a Democratic governor and Democratic Legislature that have joined forces and moved Minnesota too far to the liberal left. -- Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

For the U.S. Senate

Democrat Al Franken 

Franken is defending himself with the same head-down, workmanlike approach that has characterized his time in office.

Winning his first term in 2008 by the narrowest margin in modern U.S. Senate history after a brutally combative race, the former satirist has spent five years playing it safe. His standard event is heavy on policy, in front of a crowd that generally loves him, with a humorous punchline to chase. -- Allison Sherry

Republican Mike McFadden

The art of campaigning hasn't’t come easily to McFadden, an investment banker who has never held elective office, and hadn't voted in a primary in 20 years before his own. Yet McFadden beat out a field of experienced politicians for the Republican endorsement, easily won his primary and gained the backing of Independence Party leaders who chose him over their own primary winner.

McFadden says his great asset is that he's not a politician, nor was he bred to be one. He doesn't need this job, but he wants it. -- Abby Simons and Ricardo Lopez


All photos by Glen Stubbe, of the Star Tribune. Click below to see the Star Tribune's photo galleries of the candidates:

Mark Dayton

Jeff Johnson

Al Franken

Mike McFadden

By the numbers: U.S. House candidates' hauls

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 17, 2014 - 4:30 PM

With fundraising numbers in for U.S. House candidates, the disparities in fundraising are clear.

Incumbents, in both contested and safer seats, have far more cash at the ready for the final stretch before the election.

Explore the congressional map below to view the candidates' campaign cash.

Hover over the chart below to see the candidates' hauls arranged, by district.

Alejandra Matos contributed to this report.

GOP poll: Westrom and Peterson neck and neck

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: October 16, 2014 - 3:18 PM

WASHINGTON -- A new internal GOP poll puts Seventh Congressional District Republican candidate Torrey Westrom within striking distance of veteran Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson.

The poll, released Thursday by Westrom's campaign, shows Westrom at 44 and Peterson at 43 percent approval, with 13 percent of people still undecided. This is a four-point gain for Westrom in six weeks.

Peterson was elected to Congress in 1990. Westrom is a state lawmaker.

The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 5.8 points and was based on a telephone survey of 300 "likely" voters Oct. 12 - 14.

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