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 Republicans

Rep. Rick Nolan to campaign, fundraise with a Kennedy

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: August 27, 2014 - 4:44 PM

Massachusetts congressman Joe Kennedy III will visit Minnesota on Thursday to headline a campaign rally and fundraiser for colleague Rick Nolan, who faces a tough re-election race this fall.

Kennedy, son of former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II and grandson of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York, is expected to draw a large crowd to Carmody’s Irish Pub.

Kennedy and Nolan will also attend a private fundraiser at a residence St. Paul and a meet-and-greet at Everyday Joe Coffee and Café in North Branch.

A rising star on Capitol Hill, Kennedy has launched a leadership PAC to help colleagues in need of campaign cash and Nolan has been among the beneficiaries.

During Nolan’s first go-around in Congress in the 1970s and early 1980s, he was an ally of Kennedy’s great uncle, former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.

The Cook Political Report considers the race between Nolan and Republican challenger Stewart Mills III a toss-up.

Ex-Bachmann aide pleads guilty to taking cash to quit her presidential bid

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: August 27, 2014 - 2:45 PM

The former top Iowa adviser to Michele Bachmann’s failed presidential campaign pleaded guilty to concealing payments he received from former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign to switch his support and ditch Bachmann.

Former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson entered the guilty plea for one count of causing a federal campaign committee to falsely report its expenditures and one count of obstruction of justice.

Sorenson admitted he had supported one campaign for the 2012 presidential election, but from October to December 2011, “he met and secretly negotiated with a second political campaign to switch his support to that second campaign in exchange for concealed payments that amounted to $73,000,” according to a Justice Department release.

The Justice Department said Sorenson was paid about $8,000 a month with payments funneled through two companies before reaching Sorenson and his wife.

Sorenson publicly announced that he switched his support from Bachmann to Paul on Dec. 28, 2011, just days before the Iowa Caucus. The defection was a significant blow to Bachmann, whose campaign lost steam after she won the Iowa straw poll in August of that year.

At the time, Sorenson said it was clear that Bachmann was no longer a viable contender.

“The fact is, there is a clear top tier in the race for the Republican nomination for president, both here in Iowa and nationally,” Sorenson said. “Ron Paul is easily the most conservative of this group.”

Bachmann’s congressional staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sorenson’s plea.

In his plea, Sorenson also admitted that he gave false testimony to an independent counsel appointed at the request of the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee.

“Today, Mr. Sorenson has taken responsibility for his crimes,” said Acting Assistant Director in Charge Timothy A. Gallagher. “Exploiting the political process for personal gain will not be tolerated, and we will continue to pursue those who commit such illegal actions.”

Last year, a special investigator found probable cause that Sorenson violated Iowa’s ethic rules by taking money from committees tied to Bachmann’s campaign by laundering the money through separate consulting firms.

Iowa Senate ethics rules prohibit legislators from receiving payment for work on political campaigns.

On two separate occasions, Sorenson issued written statements to the Senate Ethics Committee, denying that the Bachmann campaign paid him.

Bachmann has also denied the allegations that her campaign paid Sorenson.

Survey USA poll shows Dayton, Franken leading GOP challengers

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: August 26, 2014 - 8:03 PM

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. 

Candidates for governor hit State Fair on opening day, spar over debates

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: August 21, 2014 - 12:41 PM

The two leading candidates for governor fulfilled a long tradition of politicking at the Minnesota State Fair, showing up on opening day to ask for votes and take a few swipes at one another. 

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton called the Fair "a great Minnesota tradition" -- and an ideal spot for candidates. "You stand in one place and the rest of the state comes passing by," Dayton said. 

The governor shook hands, posed for pictures and chatted with supporters for about 45 minutes at the DFL booth. Later in the day he was scheduled to be doused with a bucket of ice water while live on the radio, after accepting the "ice bucket challenge" - a fundraiser for ALS that has been popular and high-profile nationwide in recent days. 

Meanwhile, Johnson kicked off the first of what he said would be at least 10 State Fair appearances with a press conference at his campaign booth. He challenged Dayton to 13 debates between now and Election Day, and suggested that two should be held at the Fair. 

The Dayton campaign had previously agreed to six debates, and said it would not go beyond that. Johnson said that's not enough. There has been a tradition of political debates at the Fair, and Johnson called it the perfect setting to talk issues. 

"You'll not find a broader cross section of Minnesotans than at the State Fair," Johnson said. 

 

But Dayton pointed out that his predecessor, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, participated in seven debates as a candidate in 2002 and six debates as an incumbent in 2006. He said that would be plenty for voters to draw distinctions between himself and Johnson. 

 

"It's a contrived issue. I think he should focus on things people really care about," Dayton said. 

 The six debates the Dayton campaign agreed to are: Oct. 1 in Rochester, the week of Oct. 6 in Moorhead, Oct. 14 in Duluth, the week of Oct. 20 in Minneapolis or St. Paul, Oct. 31 in St. Paul and Nov. 2 in St. Paul. 

Johnson said if six debates are all that Dayton agrees to, then he'll be there as well. 

Johnson said he'd be at the Fair on at least 10 of its 12 days, sometimes for multiple visits. Dayton, too said he'd make multiple visits to the Fair. He has plans to be back Friday for several Fair events. 

Candidates flock to Minnesota State Fair

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: August 21, 2014 - 9:38 AM

Today marks the beginning of the Minnesota State Fair, a perennial stop for candidates to shake lots of hands, pitch their platforms and feast on fatty foods.

Today at noon, Gov. Mark Dayton will sit down with Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist Lori Sturdevant for a live interview at the Star Tribune Booth. Dayton's Republican opponent, Jeff Johnson, is also working the fair crowds this morning.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken greeted fairgoers as the gates opened. Franken’s Republican challenger, Mike McFadden, stopped by to challenge him to six debates this fall.

According to a release from the McFadden campaign, three of the proposed debates would be broadcast on either television or radio from the Twin Cities, while the remaining debates would take place in Duluth, Rochester, and Moorhead.

Franken declined an invitation from Minnesota Public Radio to debate his Republican and Independence Party challengers at the state fair.

A version of this item appeared in Morning Hot Dish, the Star Tribune's daily political newsletter. To sign up, go to StarTribune.com/membercenter, check the Politics newsletter box and save the change.

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