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.

Posts about Minnesota U.S. senators

Klobuchar, Grassley want probe of ethanol sales restrictions

Posted by: Jim Spencer Updated: July 22, 2014 - 11:55 AM

Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has joined with Republican colleague Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa to push federal investigations of alleged restrictions on the sales of ethanol by the nation's major oil companies.

The senators cited a recent report by the Renewable Fuels Association, a trade group representing the ethanol industry, that claims name-brand oil companies unfairly limit sales of ethanol at service stations selling their products.

Klobuchar and Grassley have written to U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez asking them to investigate a number of charges for possible legal and regulatory violations. The senators have asked for "a substantive evaluation of your conclusions regarding possible anticompetitive behavior by certain oil companies and any proposed solutions or actions the DOJ and FTC will take to resolve this issue."   

Among charges leveled by the renewable fuels group at Big Oil:

Brand name service stations can only sell products provided by the oil company.

Sales quotas of branded products discourage the sale of ethanol.

Requirements to store multiple grades of branded gas eliminate the ability to store and sell ethanol.

Oil company demands that ethanol pumps be labeled with "intimidating" warnings about how the fuel can hurt engines.

Forcing dealers to isolate E85 pumps that deliver fuel that is 85 percent ethanol.

Stu Rothenberg says Minnesota Senate race is more competitive, cites national mood

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: July 14, 2014 - 4:42 PM

WASHINGTON -- Citing the national mood and Minnesota's "generally competitive nature," political analyst Stu Rothenberg altered his projection of the state's November Senate race, making it slightly more competitive, from "Safe Democrat" to "Democrat Favored" Monday.

Rothenberg, who handicaps House, Senate and gubernatorial races nationally and authors the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report, said in a post Monday that the "change reflects the broad national environment" more than any advantage or disadvantage among the candidates.

Democratic incumbent Sen. Al Franken is vying for the seat against GOP businessman Mike McFadden and GOP House Rep. Jim Abeler. (Abeler and McFadden face a primary in August.)

"McFadden continues to run cutesy videos ... that focus on his coaching to introduce himself to voters, while Franken raises money and generally acts as if he has no opponent," Rothenberg writes.

Franken raised $3.3 million in the second quarter while McFadden raised $1.1 million.

Franken raised $3.3 million; McFadden raised $1.1 million

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 10, 2014 - 3:21 PM

The money is flowing in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race.

On Thursday, in advance of Tuesday's federal campaign finance deadline, both Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken and his chief Republican rival Mike McFadden released their most recent fundraising numbers.

In the last three months, Franken, long a prodigious cash gatherer, raised 'over $3.3 million,' according to his campaign. McFadden, who has promised he will have to resources to compete, raised 'over $1.1 million,' his campaign said.

For the cycle, Franken has brought in $18.4 million. But most of it has been spent.Franken, who has been running an aggressive cycle of television advertisements, had $5 million cash on hand as of the start of this month.

Since starting to run last year, McFadden has raised $4 million. He had about half of it left at the start of July. McFadden, who won the Republican party's endorsement in May, only began a broadcast advertising campaign last week.

McFadden will face an August primary against several other Republicans, none of whom have raised significant cash, before he could vie against Franken in November.

So far, national outside groups have largely stayed out of the state's Senate race, with just a few exceptions. If the race tightens in the coming months, they may dump millions on Minnesota to influence the outcome.

Franken, Klobuchar back bill to override Hobby Lobby decision

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: July 9, 2014 - 10:15 AM

Democratic U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar are co-sponsoring a bill that would override the Supreme Court's decision last week in the Hobby Lobby case.

The bill would ban employers from refusing to provide any health coverage, including contraceptives, guaranteed under the federal Affordable Care Act.

In a split decision, the Supreme Court ruled that closely held corporations did not have to provide coverage under the new federal health care laws if doing so would violate the owner's religious beliefs. The case was filed by Hobby Lobby, whose owners specifically objected to the requirement that companies provide coverage for emergency contraceptives.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington is the lead author on the legislation, which is still being drafted. If the Senate passes the bill, it would face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled House.

Women's rights are shaping up as a pivotal issue in U.S. Senate races across the country.

Franken has been critical of the Supreme Court’s decision since it was issued.

“The Supreme Court made a terrible decision when it decided that a woman’s boss can make health care decisions for her,” Franken said in a statement. “Those choices should be between a woman and her doctor, plain and simple. The Court’s ruling will deny women access to the health care services they need, and that’s why we have to pass this important legislative fix.”

The Alliance for a Better Minnesota, a group backing Democratic candidates, is pressuring one of Franken’s Republican rivals, businessman Mike McFadden, to discuss his stance on the case. The Minnesota DFL has also targeted McFadden on the issue.

Sen. Al Franken celebrates five-year swearing-in ceremony

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: July 9, 2014 - 9:55 AM

WASHINGTON -- It's been five years and one day since Sen. Al Franken was sworn in to represent Minnesota.

Franken and former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman tangled by mere hundreds of Minnesota votes in the 2008 election in what was one of the closest Senate races in the history of the union. It took seven months of legal battles before a three-judge panel concluded Franken narrowly won the election by 312 votes.

Coleman appealed that decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which ultimately rejected the appeal June 30, 2009. The junior senator was sworn in July 7, 2009.

Franken joked at the DFL convention in May that he was going to win again in November, "by more than last time."

On Tuesday he said his bid for re-election is really just "building on the work I've been doing day in and day out."

"There's a cliche in the Senate, which is kind of true, which is there are showhorses and workhorses," he said. "I knew I wanted to be a workhorse and get things done."

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