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 Democrats

Johnson blasts Dayton as "incompetent" as top-selling insurer exits MNsure

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: September 16, 2014 - 5:46 PM

Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson blasted Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday for what he called "breathtaking incompetence," after it was revealed that the insurance company that sold more policies on MNsure than any other is pulling out of the exchange. 

MNsure officials confirmed Tuesday that PreferredOne, the choice of nearly six in 10 consumers who have bought plans on the exchange, would no longer participate. Insurers are expected to release their 2015 MNsure rates in early October. 

"Mark Dayton was desperate to be the first governor in the country to implement Obamacare in Minnesota through MNsure," Johnson said at a Capitol news conference. "He got to handpick his board and handpick his staff and it has been an unmitigated disaster since day one." 

Johnson suggested that PreferredOne pulled out because it was offering artificially low rates on its plans under pressure from Dayton's administration. Jeremy Drucker, spokesman for Dayton's re-election campaign, called that ridiculous. 

"Of course, administration officials encouraged insurers on MNsure to provide the lowest rates possible to the people of Minnesota," Drucker said. "However, the companies were solely responsible for the rates they decided to offer." 

Dayton has owned up to MNsure's struggles. He apologized to consumers who struggled to buy coverage through the glitch-ridden website, and earlier this month he called MNsure's troubled launch the single biggest disappointment of his first term as governor. 

Johnson said if elected, his first goal would be winning a federal waiver that would allow Minnesota to pull out of conforming to the Affordable Care Act. If that's not successful, Johnson said, he would seek to replace MNsure's board of directors and its leadership staff. He also said he'd try to increase competition among those companies selling plans on the site. 

Drucker predicted that if Johnson is elected, he would seek changes that undermine MNsure's mission of boosting insurance coverage rates. 

"This would be devastating to Minnesotans," Drucker said.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar heading to Iowa to talk to Dems

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: September 16, 2014 - 3:34 PM

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Amy Klobuchar is heading to Iowa to headline Iowa's Jefferson Jackson dinner -- an annual fundraising gathering for Democrats.

Klobuchar is no stranger to the state crucial to presidential hopefuls. She frequently darts down there for fundraisers and was there last month campaigning for Rep. Bruce Braley, a U.S. Senate candidate.

Klobuchar aide Justin Buoen said in a statement, “Minnesota and Iowa have a lot in common--from our strong farm economies to our shared belief in education for all.  With her work on the farm bill and middle class issues, Sen. Klobuchar is a great choice for the Iowa Democratic dinner.“

Iowa Democratic party chair Scott Brennan said in a release, according to the Des Moines Register: "We invited Sen. Klobuchar because she's a great speaker and a strong advocate for our candidates and we're pleased she's joining us to support our Iowa Democrats at this year's Jefferson Jackson Dinner."

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.

Comedian Maher targets Kline for 'Flip a District' campaign

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: September 15, 2014 - 4:15 AM

HBO host Bill Maher is targeting U.S. Rep. John Kline as the Republican lawmaker he wants to oust from Congress in his "Flip a District" challenge.

The comedian and political satirist announced the "winning loser” during a live broadcast of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

“John Kline doesn’t say kooky things, but he votes just like the people who do,” Maher said.

Calling him the “champion of for-profit colleges,” Maher said he targeted Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, for voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than times and siding against gay marriage and a minimum wage increase.

In 2012, Maher donated $1 million to a political action committee devoted to President Obama’s re-election campaign. But the comedian could have a tough time unseating Kline, who's not a top Democratic target

Kline faces a rematch this year with former Democratic state Rep. Mike Obermueller.

“This news confirms what we’ve been hearing more and more of each day: folks in the [Second District] are tired of John Kline, and they’re ready to kick him out office,” Obermueller said in a statement. “People are fired up and are organizing across the district to remove him from a seat he’s become too comfortable in.”

Obermueller lost to Kline by eight points in 2012, but faces a much less favorable environment in a midterm election year when Kline is expected to coast to re-election.

Like Obermueller, Kline hopes to seize on the announcement as a rallying point. He’s aiming to raise $100,000 for television ads to counteract Maher’s campaign.

“As promised, Maher is turning his liberal guns on our districts and using his TV megaphone and million-dollar war chest to defeat me in November,” Kline wrote in an email to supporters.

“My opponent … is walking hand-in-hand with Maher and has practically named him his campaign manager, focusing on the #FlipADistrict campaign against me and doing whatever he can to pander to Maher and his extreme liberal friends.”

Viewers picked Kline as Maher's target, selecting him over three other House Republicans: Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, Blake Farenthold of Texas and Mike Coffman of Colorado.