Somewhere around 5,000 state legislators and legislative staffers from around the United States have gathered in Minneapolis this week to talk policy and politics.
The National Conference of State Legislatures kicked off its 40th annual "Legislative Summit" on Tuesday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. It's by far the largest nationwide organization representing state lawmakers from all 50 states.
A number of prominent Minnesota legislators from both parties are hosting events and participating in discussions at the four-day meeting, including state Senate president Sandy Pappas, House Speaker Paul Thissen and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk. Gov. Mark Dayton is scheduled to offer welcoming remarks at a general assembly meeting on Wednesday morning.
Hundreds of sessions will cover a wide range of policy concerns and political issues. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is scheduled to join Cindy McCain, wife of U.S. Sen. John McCain, to discuss an initiative they're leading to reduce human trafficking in the U.S.
Other speakers include retired Gen. Wesley Clark, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and national political journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, co-authors of the bestselling books "Game Change" and "Double Down."
Just a dozen hours after Jeff Johnson won the Republican primary for governor, both he and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton turned their sights to fundraising for the election ahead.
"Will you give $5 or more now to stop the GOP and keep building a Better Minnesota?" Dayton's campaign pleaded in an email fundraiser.
"The message really isn't’ going to change," Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, told reporters Wednesday. "We’ll probably focus more heavily than ever on fundraising because we gotta raise a lot of money in the next 12 weeks.”
Both men will need that focus. Although Dayton has raised and spent more money so far than Johnson, neither has huge cash banked for the November battle.
But will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in state subsidies for their campaigns for agreeing to abide by spending limits that allow them to raise around $4 million.
Here are the cash they had as of their last reports. Both have raised and spent more money since then but the exact amounts are not available.
And here are more details:
Ricardo Lopez contributed to this report.
His Republican opponent now set, Gov. Mark Dayton has a busy schedule of appearances around Minnesota this week as he celebrates local building projects made possible with state dollars.
Dayton spoke Wednesday at a ceremony marking the start of a $32 million expansion project at the Mankato Civic Center. The state is covering $14.5 million of the project's cost in the bonding bill Dayton signed earlier this year, with local taxpayers paying the rest.
Mankato-area politicians sought state money for the expansion over the last six years, and several Republican lawmakers joined Dayton at the event including Rep. Tony Cornish and Sen. Julie Rosen.
Dayton said the project "will add hundreds of new jobs, and bring thousands more visitors to Mankato every year." Jeff Johnson, Dayton's newly chosen Republican opponent, has said he believes bonding bills should focus spending on projects with statewide economic benefits.
Jobs and the economy will be a central theme in the election debate between Dayton and his newly chosen Republican opponent, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson. Republicans have acknowledged the recent healthy performance of Minnesota's economy, but Johnson said in his Tuesday night victory speech that he would try to convince voters that less government spending and regulation would benefit private employers.
Dayton also planned a Wednesday stop at MTU Onsite Energy in Mankato. On Thursday, he's scheduled to attend another groundbreaking, this one in Marshall. The southwestern Minnesota city got $4.3 million in the bonding bill to build a regional sports center, and will provide a 50 percent local match.
These appearances are under the auspices of Dayton's day job. But he's also making time for politics. The governor planned to attend a Tuesday afternoon meet-and-greet event with state House candidate Jack Considine, the DFL-endorsed candidate in the Mankato-area seat being vacated by Rep. Kathy Brynaert.
Dayton's campaign aides have said political stops will remain light on Dayton's schedule until after Sept. 1.
"I'm focused right now on being governor of Minnesota," Dayton said Wednesday at the Mankato groundbreaking. "I have five months left in my term, so that's my focus for now."
Flanked by his former rivals, Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson said the morning after winning the GOP primary that he was ready to unite the party and raise the campaign funds he’ll need to mount a credible challenge to Gov. Mark Dayton.
In short remarks, his former rivals -- Rep. Kurt Zellers, former lawmaker Marty Seifert, and business executive Scott Honour -- all said they would support Johnson in the general election.
"We have to be united as a Republican party," Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner said.
Johnson drew 30 percent of the vote in a primary that drew less than 10 percent of eligible voters to the polls. The GOP nominee told reporters Wednesday that the primary's low turn-out wouldn't dampen Republican's enthusiasm for the fall election.
"Republicans aren't accustomed to primaries," he said. "We haven't had one for twenty-something years...[but] all of us can attest to this, there was a lot of excitement."
Going forward, he said he would he would focus on contrasting his style of governing with that of DFL incumbent Dayton. He said that as governor, he would focus on making government work more efficiently with less money. He said that in the weeks ahead, he would seek to contrast his ideas and style of governing with those of DFL incumbent Dayton.
He said if he were elected governor, he would halt construction on a $90-million Senate office building, criticizing it as a symbol of excessive state spending. Johnson also said he opposed automatic increases to the state's minimum wage.
Photo by Star Tribune photographer Glen Stubbe.
Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday he's ready for the fall campaign to get started, as Republicans picked a candidate who will try to unseat the DFL incumbent.
"Minnesota's in a lot better shape now than it was four years ago, and I'd like to see us continue that progress," Dayton said, after voting in the DFL primary at Summit Church in St. Paul, down the street from the Governor's Residence.
Dayton won a hard-fought DFL primary four years ago, and this year faces only token opposition in his party's gubernatorial primary. Turnout was low at the St. Paul precinct: election judge Sam Carlisle said the site was open 30 minutes before the first voter appeared. Dayton, who arrived at 12:30 p.m., was only the 89th person to show up to vote.
He joked with election workers, telling them he got over the shame of voting for himself when he was in fourth grade.
Republicans are choosing from four main contenders in the race to challenge Dayton. They are businessman Scott Honour, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, state Rep. Kurt Zellers and former state Rep. Marty Seifert.
The GOP gubernatorial primary remained close up to the end, and expectations of low turnout made the outcome unpredictable. Polls close at 8 p.m.
Dayton declined to express a preference among the four candidates, but he rejected a central argument of all of them: that DFL control of the governor's office and Legislature have made taxes higher for Minnesotans.
"If you’re making less than $250,000 a year, your taxes have probably gone down," Dayton said. "So I think it’s very misleading to say I’ve raised taxes when I’ve lowered them for most people."
Dayton and the GOP nominee are expected to meet at six debates between Labor Day and Election Day.