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 campaigns

State tourism officials launch 'Only in Minnesota'

Posted by: Baird Helgeson Updated: April 17, 2014 - 4:56 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton and the state’s top tourism official are making a dramatic push to increase tourism with a new campaign to showcase things visitors can do only in Minnesota.

“We are going much more aggressively trying to reach the out-of-state travelers,” Explore Minnesota Tourism director John Edman said.

An additional $11 million in state funding is allowing tourism officials to reach outside the immediate market, spreading for the first time into Missouri, Kansas and western states.

The campaign features new television commercials and showcase local music along and an aggressive social media effort that officials hope will allow them to engage with people thinking about visiting Minnesota.

“This new campaign is a movement that will highlight unique Minnesota attractions and engage consumers in conversation about Minnesota travel,” Edman said. “This cutting-edge campaign allows our state to be more competitive, and grow tourism across Minnesota.”

Tourism officials are trying to get an edge locally as states like Wyoming, Michigan and Wisconsin are spending millions to lure Minnesotans to their states.

Without an aggressive campaign, Edman said, Minnesota would lose out to other states, many of which still have higher tourism budgets.

Edman said the new campaign is designed to help Minnesota hold and grow what is already a $12.5 billion tourism industry, which employs more than 245,000 workers.

“We want to make it a preferred destination,” he said.

Tourism officials are paying for the new campaign from a 65 percent increase in their funding authorized in Dayton's budget.

"We have a great state and so much to offer," Dayton said.

Tourism officials said research shows that travelers want to experience something new when they travel, which is why they created the theme, “Only in Minnesota.” The ads showcase Minnesota’s outdoor adventures, cultural amenities and landmarks.

Tourism officials are encouraging visitors share photos and Minnesota travel experiences on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media by using the official campaign hashtag #OnlyinMN. Some of the images will be featured in future billboards or sent out via social media.

Tourism officials have also revamped their website making it more user-friendly and functional for smart phones. The website features vivid images and a live-chat function where visitors can ask questions about Minnesota destinations.

The website overhaul was part of Dayton’s initiative to have state agencies revamp communication with the public to make it in plainer language and more easy to understand.

“We have seen tremendous growth in visitor site traffic through mobile devices,” Edman said. “We need to meet travelers where they are, and that means being accessible on mobile devices and social media.”

'Parks and Recreation' star to help Franken raise campaign cash

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: April 17, 2014 - 9:50 AM

Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken is turning to another celebrity friend to help raise money for his 2014 reelection campaign. 

In an e-mail sent today, campaign manager Matt Burgess is offering supporters who donate to Franken's campaign by noon Friday a chance to party with him and “Parks and Recreation” star Amy Poehler in Los Angeles next Wednesday.

Franken’s campaign will cover the cost for airfare and lodging for the winner and a friend.

Republicans criticized Franken during the 2008 Senate race, saying the former Saturday Night Live writer and satirist wasn’t a serious candidate. That led Franken to deemphasize his celebrity ties.

But he's not shying away from his Hollywood connections this time around.

Jon Hamm of “Mad Men” fame and late night host Conan O’Brien are among the celebrities who’ve helped Franken raise campaign cash. Poehler and O’Brien, like Franken, are Saturday Night Live alums.

Westrom named to GOP 'contender' list

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: April 18, 2014 - 2:18 AM

The National Republican Congressional Committee has named Seventh Congressional District candidate Torrey Westrom as an up-and-coming recruit for the 2014 election cycle.

Westrom is one of seven House hopefuls the NRCC added to its “Contender” list today. The state senator is the GOP challenger to Democratic incumbent Collin Peterson in the district that covers most of western Minnesota.

“Torrey Westrom has reached the ‘Contender’ status because he is exemplary of the new leadership needed in Washington D.C. to turn our country around and provide a check and balance in Washington,” said NRCC Chairman Greg Walden, a Republican congressman from Oregon. 

“I am confident that Torrey will continue to work hard for his district and bring sound, conservative principles to Congress.”

Peterson outpaced Westrom during the year’s first fundraising quarter and had $522,000 banked for his re-election bid at the end of March. Westrom’s cash-on-hand total is $170,729.

As challengers ascend the ranks, they’re more likely to receive financial and campaign aid from the NRCC, the campaign arm of House Republicans. The next and final rung is for top tier recruits, who are tagged as “Young Guns.”

Eighth District GOP candidate Stewart Mills III reached 'contender' status in March. He's challenging Democratic congressman Rick Nolan.

Senate candidate McFadden targets Franken's record in first TV ad

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: April 17, 2014 - 8:43 AM

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden is targeting Democratic incumbent Al Franken’s voting record in the first television ad of Minnesota’s Senate race.

The campaign ad features a hockey player misfiring slap shots whiles an announcer criticizes Franken’s votes on taxes, government spending and the Affordable Care Act.

"For Minnesota, it was miss after miss after miss," the announcer declares

McFadden then tells viewers that Minnesota needs "someone who's going to shoot straight in Washington”.

Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said McFadden is the candidate who hasn't been a straight shooter on the issues.

“McFadden’s going to have to try a lot harder to paper over the fact that he’s been called out for refusing to be honest more times than I can count,” Martin said.

McFadden’s ad buy is $9,800 over 10 days and starts running today on cable in the Twin Cities television market. It’s the first candidate TV ad of the election cycle in Minnesota’s 2014 U.S. Senate race.

State Sen. Julianne Ortman, St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg and state Rep. Jim Abeler are among the other GOP candidates vying to take on Franken.

Emmer raises $206,000 in race to replace Bachmann

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: April 16, 2014 - 11:55 AM

Former gubernatorial candidate and state Rep. Tom Emmer is the leading fundraiser in the race to replace retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Emmer reported $206,000 in campaign contributions through the first three months of 2014, while his opponents continue to rely largely on their own bank accounts.

Anoka County Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah and former state Rep. Phil Krinkie continued fund their own campaigns, with Sivarajah giving her campaign $170,000 while Krinkie spent $50,000 of his own money.

Donors contributed $12,000 to Krinkie and just $2,740 to Sivarajah during the fundraising period.

Including the personal contributions to his campaign, Krinkie has the most cash-on-hand with $291,000 banked. The total is nearly $40,000 more than Emmer’s $253,000. Sivarajah has $192,500 in reserves.

Emmer won the party endorsement at the Sixth District Republican convention over the weekend and Bachmann publicly backed his campaign Tuesday.

Sivarajah and Krinkie said they will remain in the race until the mid-August primary.

The GOP primary winner will be a heavy favorite come November, because the Sixth Congressional District is the state’s most conservative.

So far, political science professor Jim Read is the only Democratic candidate to file a first quarter campaign finance report. Read raised $26,771 and has $34,171 cash on hand.