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.: Allison Sherry and Jim Spencer.

Posts about 8th District

And, in closing: Here are the final TV ads in key election races

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: November 3, 2014 - 1:01 PM

Candidates for governor, Senate and Congress have spent millions to get dozens of messages on television.

But, with Election Day nearly here, these are the words they really want you to remember.

Here are their final, closing argument television ads.

Governor

Republican Jeff Johnson

Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner raised in Detroit Lakes, tailored his final ads to three different parts of the state. In all three ads, Johnson is standing in a sun-dappled, tree stand.

"He's just not up to the job any more," Johnson says of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. "It's time for new leadership in Minnesota."

In two other ads, he claims that he, unlike Dayton, will focus on Greater Minnesota.


DFL Gov. Mark Dayton

Dayton's final ad is called "Rising" and highlights the way his campaign believes the state is better since Dayton took office and will be even better if he wins again.

"Mark Dayton knows we have much more to do, to help struggling families, make college more affordable, and help small businesses grow," the narrator says. "Moving forward together."


U.S. Senate

Republican Mike McFadden

McFadden's final ad shows a contrast -- the country as it is, with the country as it could be.

"Everything is at stake," a narrator reads, as various scenes of Minnesota life flit by. "Our hopes, our dreams, our future....We can make America great again."


Democratic U.S. Al Franken

Franken's final ad, called "Delivered," uses quotations from newspaper editorial endorsements to promote the candidate.

"Newspapers across Minnesota back Al Franken," the ad's narrator says. Video of Franken meeting with various people shows as different voices read selections from the pro-Franken endorsements.

Eighth Congressional District

Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan

Nolan, fighting to keep his northern Minnesota district, closed his campaign with an ad that shows him speaking to a crowd and going hunting. Against that backdrop, Nolan gives his enthusiastic stump speech.

"It's time to do what's right for the middle class," Nolan says in the ad.


Republican Stewart Mills

In Mills final ad, he speaks directly to the camera and makes the ask for viewers' votes.

"Minnesota is my home," he says in the ad, which includes childhood photos of Mills. "I'm Stewart Mills. I approved this message and I'd appreciate your vote."

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

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.

Absentee ballots largely from regular voters, Democratic areas

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 16, 2014 - 4:38 PM

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glenn Howatt

Absentee ballots are streaming to election offices across the state but very few of those early voters are new voters, according to a Star Tribune analysis.

Only 5.6 percent of the nearly 34,000 voters who have already had ballots accepted did not vote in the last midterm election year, 2010. Another five percent did not vote in 2010 or 2012, the last presidential election year.

The analysis indicates that despite pushes from both Democrats and Republicans, new voters are not yet availing themselves of the law that allows anyone to vote by absentee.

About 34,000 people voted by absentee ballot as of Oct. 14. Another 6,000, in small, rural precincts, voted by mail.

Of the people who cast absentee ballots, 29 percent also voted absentee in both the 2010 and 2012 elections. Another 31 percent went to the polls in both of those election years.

The analysis also shows that more voters who have already had ballots counted come from Democratic areas than from Republican areas. By county, by Minnesota House district and even by precinct, more ballots are flowing in from areas that lean toward Democrats than lean toward Republicans.

Nearly half of absentee ballots have been cast by voters who live in Democratic House districts, 32 percent came from those in Republican House districts and about 19 percent came from swing districts.

Minnesota voters do not register by party so the Star Tribune does not have access to the personal politics of voters.

Keith Downey, chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party, and Ken Martin, chairman of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, have both been pouring over absentee voter list. Both parties have invested in identifying voters by party.

With that data, the DFL and the Republican Party have come up with different results.

Martin, the DFL chairman, said their numbers show that 59 percent of absentee ballots have been cast by voters they have identified as Democrats. Martin said many of those Democrats are infrequent voters -- exactly the demographic they have need to turnout if the DFL is to do well this year.

The Republican Party shows statewide 39 percent of absentee votes so far have come from Republicans, 36 percent came from Democrats and 25 percent came from independent or unidentified voters, Republican chair Downey said.

Across the state, significantly more voters are opting to vote absentee than had in the 2010 election, according to the secretary of state.

Compared to nearly 40,000 accepted ballots as of Wednesday, election officials had only accepted 23,000 absentee ballots by this point in the 2010 election.

This year for the first time, anyone who wants to vote absentee can do so regardless of whether they can show up at the polls on Election Day. Previously, voters would have to offer an excuse for why they needed to vote absentee.

Below, see the number of ballots already cast and accepted, by county.

Updated to reflect more specific numbers.

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

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 15, 2014 - 6:13 PM

Wednesday was the latest filing day for U.S. House candidates and the cash is rolling in.

According to Federal Election Commission filings and information from campaigns, Republican Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen lead all candidates in how much cash they have left in the bank. Although neither of their suburban districts are targeted by national outside spending, both have more than $1.5 million in their war chests.

In the targeted western Seventh Congressional District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson has raised and spent more than his Republican challenger Torrey Westrom and has nearly twice as much left in the bank.

According to FEC files, independent groups have pumped more than $4.8 million into that district, a thousand-fold more than outside groups spent in 2012. The district which has a Republican tilt but has long sent Peterson to Washington by overwhelming margins.

Outside groups have already spent $6.6 million in the highly northern Eighth District, which has swung between Democratic and Republican representation in recent years.

In that race, the candidates -- Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican challenger Stewart Mills -- have kept competitive in fundraising but Nolan has more cash on hand going into the final stretch. Mills has added to his cash haul by lending his campaign $250,000 so far.

See the other numbers available below. The chart will be updated as more numbers become available.

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