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, Baird Helgeson, Patricia Lopez, Jim Ragsdale, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry, Corey Mitchell and Jim Spencer.

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Sen. Al Franken pushes nutrition for kids and seniors

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 18, 2014 - 12:33 PM

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Al Franken is making stops to the young and the old Friday in his push for the poor to have the right to nutritious food and college affordability.

Franken, who recently introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to ensure students have access to school lunches, is taking U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to the St. Paul Public Schools Nutrition Center, which prepares school meals for St. Paul schools using local products.

He then heads to Minneapolis, where he will help deliver a meal via Meals on Wheels to two seniors.

Then he'll move again to the University of Minnesota, where he will talk with college students about tuition affordability, including the price of textbooks. He has pending legislation to rein in the rising cost of textbooks -- legislation that has been endorsed by the Association of Big Ten Students, according to his office.

Franken is up for re-election this November.

Republicans call on Rep. Rick Nolan to cancel fundraiser with 1960s star

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 11, 2014 - 4:12 PM

WASHINGTON -- Republicans on Friday slammed Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan for planning a fundraiser with Peter Yarrow, the singer from the 1960s band Peter, Paul and Mary, who admitted in 1970 to having improper relations with a 14-year-old girl.

Nolan is hosting a fundraiser April 25 with Yarrow, who is playing at Duluth's Sacred Heart Music Center for a concert afterwards. The fundraiser, at Bowery Brothers Pub in Duluth, asks for a suggested donation of $50.

Yarrow has vexed Democratic fundraisers before. Last year, Republicans criticized Martha Robertson, a New York Democrat, for planning an event with him, according to the Buffalo News. She refused to cancel the event and Republicans ran an attack ad against her for it.

That same article points out that Yarrow has donated almost $15,000 to Democratic candidates since 1998 and he performed for Obama volunteers during the 2008 presidential campaign.

“Rick Nolan should immediately cancel his fundraiser with a convicted child molester and apologize to his constituents," said Tyler Q. Houlton at the National Republican Congressional Committee, in an e-mailed statement.

Nolan's spokeswoman deferred comments to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“This is a desperate attempt from Stewart Mills to distract from the fact that he is personally offended when millionaires like himself are asked to pay their fair share," said Brandon Lorenz, in an emailed statement.

Mills is the Republican running to unseat Nolan, who is in his first term, though served in the U.S. House of Representatives previously between 1975 and 1981.



NRCC Chair: Dems Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson can be beat

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 9, 2014 - 4:11 PM

WASHINGTON -- A top Republican campaign operative said Wednesday that Minnesota Democratic Reps. Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan are beatable this fall.

Nolan, of the 8th Congressional District, beat out an incumbent Republican in 2012 when President Obama swept the state. He previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives between 1975 and 1981.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden said in a sit-down with reporters that Nolan has taken "unfavorable" votes on veterans issues that "won't play well" in northern Minnesota.

He also spoke highly of Stewart Mills, the millionaire businessman vying to unseat him.

"Mills has developed a strong following both online and off and will have the resources necessary to run a competitive race," said Walden, a Republican congressman from Oregon. "I think Stewart is going to give Nolan a real run for his money."

On Peterson, Walden said the veteran chair of the House Agricultural Committee "hasn't run an effective race since 1994."

Peterson is a Democratic outlier in the district, which has voted Republican in the last three presidential races. GOP state Sen. Torrey N. Westrom is running against him.

"This is a district that wants to vote Republican," Walden said. "They haven't had as viable choice to run for Congresss as they do this time with Torrey."

“Representatives Nolan and Peterson are strongly positioned in their races because they are on the side of middle class Minnesotans,” said Brandon Lorenz of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Stewart Mills’ suggestion that he is offended when millionaires like himself are asked to pay their fair share makes it clear he would side with Congressman Ryan’s budget that raise taxes on the middle class to pay for tax cuts for millionaires like himself. Torrey Westrom has a long track record of irresponsibly selling out the middle class, especially when he voted to slash early childhood education when we need to invest in preparing our kids for the high-tech 21st century economy.”

Rep. Erik Paulsen to take on soccer pros tonight at DC stadium

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 8, 2014 - 11:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen, a member of the Congressional Soccer Caucus and coach of his daughter's soccer team, faces actual pros in a soccer match here tonight benefitting after-school programs.

Paulsen will suit up at RFK Stadium, the home field for D.C. United, with other members of the soccer caucus, including Democratic Reps. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Colleen Hannabusa of Hawaii.

The members will also play with representatives from several embassies (watch out for Brazil, Spain and Italy) as well as professional players from D.C. United and the U.S. women's national soccer team.

The pros include John Harkes, former U.S. national team captain, Brianna Scurry and Staci Wilson, both former players on the U.S. women's national soccer team, and Ben Olsen, the current head coach for D.C. United.

The Congressional Soccer Caucus is an uncustomary kumbaya-like group of people -- Democrats and Republicans who have joined together to promote soccer. The game is a benefit for the U.S. Soccer Foundation, which will donate the money to after-school programs, according to its website.

"Spending more time with my colleagues outside the Capitol helps build bipartisan relationships," Paulsen said, in a statement. "While I've competed in other Congressional competitions, soccer is the sport I grew up playing, and I'm excited to kick the ball around with some of the best players to ever wear the U.S. jersey."


Sen. Al Franken says it's only "dignified" to raise minimum wage

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 3, 2014 - 5:41 PM

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sen. Al Franken made a case to boost the federal minimum wage to $10.10 Thursday saying minimum wage earners would be good consumers and boost the economy if they had more cash.

"Businesses do need more customers and folks making the minimum wage are customers," Franken said, at a rally on Capitol HIll. "I go to businesses and ask them, why aren't you expanding and they say we don't have enough demand ... not enough customers."

Then he deadpanned: "Goldman Sachs is right on this one. As they are on so many things."

Franken added: "Parents shouldn't have to work two or three jobs to clothe and feed and put a roof over the head of their children and not be able to go to their kids' game," he said. "It's just wrong. That's not our country. That's not the richest country in the world."