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 National campaigns

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.

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."

 

Partisan poll finds Franken has only slim leads on GOP rivals, "potentially vulnerable"

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: April 2, 2014 - 6:06 PM

A new Minnesota poll, commissioned by a partisan group, finds that Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken is "potentially vulnerable" as he mounts his bid for re-election.

It found that Franken has a 3 percentage lead over Republican Julianne Ortman and a 6 percentage point lead over Republican Mike McFadden.

The poll was conducted by Magellan Strategies for American Encore, a group connected to the Koch Brothers that is already running television ads bashing Franken. It included 1,081 likely Minnesota voters in late March.

The numbers in the poll will likely give American Encore and groups like it reason to keep pushing national money into Minnesota.

Minnesotans are nearly equally split on whether Franken is doing a good job as senator with 44 percent saying they approve of his job performance and 44 percent saying they do not, the poll found. Such splits have followed Franken's career -- he won his 2008 election by just 312 votes.

According to the poll, Franken is considerably less popular with Minnesotans than Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. It found that 57 percent of voters approve of the job Klobuchar is doing  Klobuchar won her 2012 re-election with 65 percent of the vote.

But it also found more Minnesotans disapprove of the job President Obama is doing, compared to Franken. The poll found that 53 percent of voters disapprove of Obama's job performance.

Although the poll was commissioned by a partisan organization, many of them are in line with recent non-partisan polling numbers. In February, a Star Tribune poll found that half of Minnesotans disapproved of Obama's job performance.  Last month, a Survey USA/KSTP poll found that Franken had single digit leads over some of his Republican opponents.

The poll's sample included 31 percent Democrats, 28 percent Republicans and 40 percent independent or something else. The February Star Tribune poll found that more Minnesotans considered themselves Democrats and fewer independent or something else.

As medical marijuana remains controversial in Minnesota, the nation's attitude about pot is changing

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: April 1, 2014 - 1:22 PM

While the Minnesota Capitol has been roiled over questions about whether the legalize marijuana for medical uses, the rest of the country has moved on.

According to the Pew Center for People and the Press, a majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana completely, driven by strong support from people born after 1981.

Only two states -- Washington and Colorado -- have leglized buying marijuana. Minnesota has not explored full legalization. According to a Star Tribune poll early this year, a slim majority of Minnesotans support legalizing pot's medical use but 63 percent oppose full legalization.

Explore the changing attitudes about pot in Pew's slideshow on the issue below.

Marijuana: Changing Attitudes

Rep. Bachmann fundraises for her PAC -- even though she isn't running

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: March 31, 2014 - 3:09 PM

WASHINGTON -- Outgoing conservative firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann is asking donors to give to her Political Action Committee -- even though she isn't running this year to keep her Congressional seat.

Minnesota Public Radio reported this morning that Bachmann's PAC, MichelePAC, recently sent out email seeking donations. 

Public records show the PAC could use some money.

In 2012, it raised $1.2 million and spent $1.4 million. For the 2014 cycle, MichelePAC raised $334,000, according to last filing, and has already spent $311,000, according to Center for Responsive Politics.

Bachmann's PAC released a statement Monday, noting the congresswoman has "always in the past been committed to supporting constitutional conservative candidates and her PAC activity and objectives continue to be consistent with those efforts."