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 Gov. Mark Dayton

Dayton in D.C. to raise campaign cash; Johnson makes several stops in SW Minn.

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: September 15, 2014 - 2:33 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton is raising campaign cash in Washington this week as he tries to keep a financial advantage over his Republican opponent, Jeff Johnson. 

Dayton and running mate Tina Smith traveled to Washington Monday. They're appearing at an evening fundraising reception at a private home, with contributors urged to give $1,000, $500 and $250. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is also appearing at the fundraiser. 

Also on Dayton's schedule is a Tuesday morning fundraiser at D.C. lobbying firm Forbes-Tate, also with Klobuchar in tow. That one has higher suggested donations of $2,000, $1,000 or $500.

Throughout the summer Dayton maintained a significant fundraising advantage over Johnson, whose primary campaign left him with little money in the bank by mid-August. Johnson has said he's spent large amount of times on fundraising since then.

The next snapshot of the candidates' fundraising progress comes at the end of September, which will give a sense of whether Johnson has made any progress toward closing the gap. 

Johnson campaigned in southwestern Minnesota on Monday morning, including at several events with his primary opponent Marty Seifert. 

DFL releases first ad; hammers on GOP's Johnson on education

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: September 15, 2014 - 5:40 PM

The Minnesota DFL Party is releasing a television ad hamming Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson on education.

The ad is part of $1 million ad campaign the party is planning to support DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's re-election.

The DFL's television campaign is one of the largest so far in the low-profile governor's race.

Dayton has reserved ad time for later this month. Johnson, whose campaign has had less money in the bank, said over the weekend that he hopes to be on the air as well by the end of the this month.

The DFL ad gives the appearance of a positive ad, featuring happy music and parents talking about education, but attacks Johnson largely on decade-old votes he took in the Legislature and praises Dayton.

"It seems like schools are not Jeff Johnson's priority," Jennifer Nelson, a teacher who is clearly pregnant, says in the ad.

Johnson, who is now a Hennepin County commissioner, served in the Minnesota House from 2001 to 2006. When he first joined the Legislature he had said that education was one of his top priorities.

It still is a top priority, Johnson communications director Jeff Bakken said.

"Unlike Mark Dayton, Jeff was educated entirely in Minnesota public schools and his kids are being educated entirely in Minnesota public schools," Bakken said. "Jeff repeatedly voted to increase education funding as a legislator. Like most Minnesotans, Jeff also knows that there is a lot more to education than just spending."

Earlier this month, big spending Alliance for a Better Minnesota also released a television ad hammering the Republican candidate on education.

That the two Democratic groups picked the same issue to blast over the airwaves should be no surprise.

For years, Democrats have participated in a polling and research consortium, called Project Lakes and Plains, that allows them to share information.

The result is they read from the same playbook and that playbook says in the midterm election that Minnesota voters care deeply about education issues. By July, Minnesota Democratic campaigns had paid Project Lakes and Plains nearly $200,000.

It is not clear whether the Minnesota Republican Party, which is still recovering from a previous administration's debt, will run any television ads this year on Johnson's behalf.

Last week, Republican Party spokesman Brittni Palke, said: "The MNGOP will not be announcing an ad buy." But did not clarify whether that statement means the party would not announce an ad buy in advance or would not make an ad buy this year.

Here's the new DFL ad:

Updated

Data editor Glenn Howatt contributed to this report.

Johnson hammers on unionization again

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: September 11, 2014 - 2:50 PM

Standing in front of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's temporary Capitol area office, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson said he would try to reverse the massive unionization of child care and home health workers now underway in Minnesota if he became governor.

"I would certainly would try," Johnson said. "It would be hard to reverse but not impossible."

Republicans, including Johnson, have long hammered on Dayton and DFLers in the Legislature for approving a measure to allow child care and home health care workers to decide whether to unionize. The resulting unions would negotiate with the state.

The controversial 2013 legislative vote was a top priority for the Service Employees International Union, which is working with home care workers, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which works with child care workers.

Last month, home health care workers approved unionization. Child care providers are organizing a unionization vote for next year.

Johnson and anti-unionization activist Jennifer Parrish, a child care businesswoman, both suggested that Dayton's support of unionization was "payback" for union support and contributions during the 2010 election.

Although a quid pro quo of support in exchange for administrative action could be illegal, Johnson said he was not accusing Dayton of any illegal activity.

Jeremy Drucker, spokesman for the Dayton campaign, declined to comment on Johnson's accusation of payback. But he did say the governor believes in child care providers' right to organize.

"Governor Dayton supports giving child care providers the chance to hold an election and decide for themselves whether or not they want to form a union. This right was guaranteed by the U.S. Congress in 1935," Drucker said in a statement.

Dayton, who has been in Minnesota politics for decades, has long been considered union-friendly and during his term and campaign has received significant support from Minnesota unions. He has not always, however, moved in lock step with union interests and before the 2010 primary, many unions supported one of his Democratic opponents.

Jennifer Munt, a spokeswoman for AFSCME, said Johnson position shows he is "against working women."

As to the accusation of "payback," she said "we support candidates who support workers...for us that is our fundamental value."

Updated to remove photo.

Dayton calls state's propane situation 'encouraging' as winter approaches

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: September 9, 2014 - 5:10 PM

On the heels of a summit to discuss how to avoid repeating last year’s propane shortage in the midst of one of the most brutal winters in decades, Gov. Mark Dayton said Minnesota’s propane supply has increased by as much as 20-30 million gallons over last year, while rail lines and storage facilities have increased their capacity for both the harvest and rapidly approaching cold weather.

“I’d say the situation is very encouraging; much has advanced over what it was a year ago,” Dayton said, shortly after meeting with representatives from the propane, agriculture and rail industries as well as his Commissioners of Agriculture, Commerce, Pollution Control, and Transportation.

 “We’re not out of the woods; nobody is complacent but there’s been a lot more focus on this,” he said.

Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said a key propane storage facility in Conway, Kan. has increased its storage capacity by 15 percent, while multiple places in state have done the same. Dayton said the railroads have responded to calls to improve capacity to transport both harvested grain and propane.

Last winter, Dayton’s Executive Council voted unanimously to authorize and extend an emergency order to help alleviate the shortage, which included a hotline for propane-related issues. The state also received an additional $16 million for its Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, allowing the state to increase its crisis funding from $500 to $1,000 in assistance per household.

“I expect if it’s another severe winter and if there’s another late harvest that requires a lot of propane for drying, then we’ll have another tight supply situation, but we’re better prepared to handle that,” Dayton said.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as of August 9, propane supplies in the Midwest were 1.9 million barrels higher than last year, but still 1.6 million barrels below the five-year average.
 

Testiness spills out over Minnesota's Israeli bonds

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: September 9, 2014 - 5:27 PM

Dozens of protestors filled the a stately Capitol office building Tuesday morning to share their view that the state of Minnesota should divest from Israel.

Despite occasionally shouting at Gov. Mark Dayton, they found the same answer others have found before: there's no current plan to change Minnesota's investment in Israel, which is two decades old.

"We really want to hear from you. We really want to understand what it's going to take," said one of the members of the divestment group, Break the Bonds.

"We have a different view, I have a different view than yours," Gov. Mark Dayton said. "As far as I'm concerned the case is closed as far as our decision. Now, I may not be here next January and there may be other new board members...From my standpoint, here we've had this debate, we disagree..."

"Why don't you answer her question," someone shouted from the audience.

"We're just at a point of disagreement," Dayton said.

Another protestor piped up to accuse Dayton of saying back in July that Palestinians "deserved" to be bombed. Dayton replied that he did not recall saying that and he did not believe he said that.

Protestors murmured in disagreement.

"You're quoted as saying that," a women said.

"You did say it, so what did you mean?" a man said.

In the July Star Tribune article protestors cited, Dayton, in fact, did not say that anyone deserved to be bombed.

He said, instead, "Tonight, I join with you in expressing my support of the people of Israel in defending themselves against Hamas’ terrorism."

Dayton suggested the protestors should return in March of next year when the long-held bonds will expire. The state currently holds $10 million in bonds issued by Israel and $15 million invested through the U.S. Agency for International Development and that is also considered an investment in Israel.

After some more shouting from protestors, Dayton said: "Excuse me, I'm going to terminate the meeting if we can't have a civil conversation."

Shortly thereafter, the Board of Investment meeting ended because the agenda was completed and the Land Exchange Board meeting began in the same room.

During that later meeting, the protestors could be heard chanting so loudly outside those left in the room had to speak louder and move closer to the board members to make themselves heard.

Updated

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