Both Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken are leading their Republican challengers, Jeff Johnson and Mike McFadden, in a new poll released this week.
The SurveyUSA poll was commissioned by KSTP-TV. The poll of 600 likely voters was taken Aug. 8-21.
In the governor's race, DFLer Dayton led Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, 49 percent to 40 percent. Hannah Nicollet, the Independence Party's candidate, had support from 3 percent of respondents, while 5 percent were undecided.
Franken is sitting on an even wider lead over McFadden, a first-time candidate. Franken, first elected by an extremely thin margin in 2008, is backed by 51 percent of respondents compared to 42 percent for McFadden. The Independence Party's Steve Carlson was backed by 2 percent while 3 percent were undecided.
The margin of sampling error in both cases was plus or minus 4.1 percent.
Franken's approval rating in the poll was 56 percent positive, while 35 percent disapproved of his performance. But the news wasn't all good for Democrats: the poll found that 52 percent disapprove of President Barack Obama's performance, while just 38 percent approve. The margin of error in those cases was plus or minus 3.7 percent.
One day after Republican Congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn apologized for a series of blog posts written years ago that lambasted women, American Indians, gays and national political figures, Minnesota GOP leaders called on the state’s DFL party chair to apologize for a 2012 video in which Sen. Al Franken was shown appearing to sport a pair of traffic cones as breasts. The video came to light earlier this year.
The news conference also ended abruptly when State Republican Party Chair Keith Downey walked out when asked to clarify whether the party approached endorsed Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald and asked her to renounce her endorsement.
“If you had to stack up the politicians in Minnesota, Al Franken would be at the top of the list for those who have issued offensive comments or actions,” Downey said at a news conference Monday morning. “It is time for him to apologize for those, and it is time for Democrat chairman Ken Martin to call on him to apologize as well.”
Martin condemned Hagedorn’s remarks as “outrageous and offensive,” but he wasn’t alone. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden also called on Hagedorn to apologize, saying “His writings do not reflect Minnesota values.”
Hagedorn, who initially defended his remarks, apologized Sunday.
In an open letter to Martin, Republican Minnesota state Sen. Michelle Fischbach and Reps. Marion O’Neill, Joyce Peppin, Cindy Pugh and Peggy Scott demanded the apology, saying “This wasn’t some ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit from yesteryear—this video was from an event in 2012.”
“I am so offended, not only this but his pattern of behavior to degrade women and to put women down,” said O’Neill, who along with Scott joined Downey at the news conference. “We are in 2014. I think it’s time to apologize, And it’s time to move forward and it’s time to stop this terrible behavior.”
Downey said that when the video first surfaced in 2012, the Republicans. “brought it to light a number of times” through social media, but never demanded an apology until Martin called on Hagedorn to do so.
“The hypocrisy jumped out at us, so today is the day,” he said, adding that “the standard has been set” with Hagedorn’s apology.
Scott called Hagedorn’s apology, which also lashed out at Franken, “sincere and heartfelt,”
“I think he genuinely is apologetic and remorseful about the comments that he made,” she said.
The news conference ended abruptly when Downey refused to discuss the latest developments surrounding GOP-endorsed Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald, who awaits trial next month for charges of drunken driving and resisting arrest.
MacDonald, who was barred from the party’s State Fair booth and removed by security last week, said she was approached by a party representative and asked to reject her endorsement, but refused. The same day, Downey issued a letter blasting MacDonald. A Republican party spokeswoman denied MacDonald was approached on behalf of the party.
"I have a deal from the party for you" one of the text messages read, according to the website.
Asked about the text messages and phone call, Downey maintained that the state GOP did not approach MacDonald with the request to reject the endorsement. Asked whether Burns was not telling the truth, Downey walked out without comment as reporters continued asking questions.
The congressional campaigns of Republicans Stewart Mills III and Torrey Westrom are picking up more national attention.
An ABC News piece on the five “most interesting” 2014 GOP U.S. House candidates features Mills, labeled the “Republican Brad Pitt,” and Westrom, whom the piece dubbed “the sightless [state] senator who’s never lost an election.”
Mills is challenging Democrat Rick Nolan in the Eighth District and Westrom faces Democrat Collin Peterson in the Seventh District.
Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call ran a story on the Westrom-Peterson race Tuesday suggesting this could be the toughest re-election race yet for Peterson, who’s seeking a 13th term in Congress.
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U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison supports a Congressional Black Caucus letter urging the Justice Department to conduct a complete, stand-alone investigation of the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.
The caucus signed sent a letter to Attorney General Eric. H. Holder Jr., that expressed gratitude for the Justice Department investigation already underway regarding the incident, in which a Ferguson policeman shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Police have said the teen tried to take an officer’s gun, but at least one witness said the teen was shot without cause.
“Press reports suggest that Mr. Brown’s shooting may be symptomatic of larger racial tensions in Ferguson,” the letter to Holder read.
“We ask the Department to dedicate sufficient resources to investigate the legal and civil rights ramifications of the shooting and surrounding circumstances,” the letter writers said.
"First, the St. Louis County Police Department may not be the most objective or credible body to investigate civil rights matters involving law enforcement given evidence of racial profiling in the past year,” they continued. “Second, only the federal government has the resources, the experience, and the independence to give this case the close scrutiny that the citizens of Ferguson and the greater St. Louis area deserve.”
Ellison used his Twitter account earlier this week to call for a “full, transparent investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown” and added that “Thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Former Democratic state Rep. Mike Obermueller will get another shot at unseating Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline, who defeated him in a closer-than-expected race in 2012.
Obermueller handily defeated opponent Michael Roberts, an Army veteran and Hamline University Law School student, in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, is seeking a seventh term in Congress representing the Second District, which covers the suburbs south of the Twin Cities.
Paula Overby is the Independence Party candidate in the race.