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.

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Republicans gush on Mike McFadden after his victory

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: August 12, 2014 - 10:00 PM

WASHINGTON -- Republicans far and wide congratulated GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden on his quick victory Tuesday.

McFadden clinched the primary election against state Rep. Jim Abeler within an hour of polls closing. McFadden had garnered about 74 percent of the primary vote with 36 percent of the precincts reporting at about 9:20 CT.

McFadden faces Democrat Sen. Al Franken this November.

"Mike McFadden is a problem solver who has proven he can build a winning coalition of Minnesotans who are tired of watching President Obama and Al Franken take this country in the wrong direction,” said Keith Downey, Republican party chair.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Sen. Jerry Moran, who applauded McFadden's fundraising prowess last month to a roundtable of reporters, said in a statement:

"Minnesota families, workers and seniors are tired of an inept, dysfunctional and incompetent government in Washington ... Mike McFadden's career in business demonstrates that he knows how to get things done."

And as McFadden's supporters heaped praise on the investment banker political newcomer, his liberal detractors criticized him for being too cozy with business.

"If elected to the U.S. Senate, McFadden would put special interests - including his billionaire supporters the Koch brothers - ahead of working families," said Carrie Lucking, executive director of Alliance for a Better Minnesota.

Franken, who won his own minor primary Tuesday, issued a statement an hour after polls closed.

"I've worked hard for Minnesota and I"m proud of my record of standing up for middle class families. I'd be grateful for the opportunity to continue serving the people of our state."

Senate candidate McFadden delivers weekly Republican address

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: August 9, 2014 - 5:39 AM

WASHINGTON -- GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden has been plucked to deliver the Republicans’ national weekly address — a sign establishment Republicans are grooming the political newbie and trying to garner him some name recognition.

The Republican response is customary and runs along with President Barack Obama’s weekly radio address.

According to a copy of the prepared remarks, McFadden pushes a message of “independent leadership” in Washington. He touches on slimming down regulations, which he says would create more jobs. He also touts the importance of education as key to having a “highly-skilled workforce” that will move the economy forward.

McFadden’s remarks were recorded earlier in the week.

McFadden, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Al Franken in November, still faces a primary himself Tuesday against state Rep. Jim Abeler.

“This November presents a tremendous opportunity for America to elect new leaders,” McFadden said.

Obama will address why he authorized air strikes in Iraq this week.

According to the White House Saturday: "The president detailed why he authorized two operations in Iraq -- targeted military strikes to protect Americans serving in Iraq and humanitarian airdrops of food and water to help Iraqi civilians trapped on a mountain by terrorists."

GOP Speaker Boehner, Hubbard Broadcasting owners throw Mills fundraiser

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: August 8, 2014 - 4:45 PM

WASHINGTON -- The same day GOP House Speaker John Boehner is in Minnesota throwing a fundraiser for himself at the Minneapolis Club, he will traverse up to the Eighth Congressional District for a fundraiser for GOP challenger Stewart Mills.

Boehner will host a fundraiser for Mills, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan, at the Grand View Lodge in Nisswa Aug. 14.

Gold sponsors of the fundraiser include Stanley and Karen Hubbard, executives of Hubbard Broadcasting.

The company, which owns two television stations, was under fire from Democrats earlier this month for pulling negative ads against Mills from their television stations in northern Minnesota. Mills says the independent ads were inaccurate, though they kept running in other parts of the state.

General admission tickets for the Boehner-Mills shindig run $250, but for $10,400 you can get four seats at the "VIP roundtable" and eight spots at the "VIP photo opportunity" and "eight spots to the general reception."

Speaker Boehner August 14

GOP challenger Torrey Westrom has hefty credit card, student loan debt

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: August 10, 2014 - 7:38 AM

WASHINGTON -- Torrey Westrom, the Republican challenger to 12-term Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson in the Seventh Congressional District, carries tens of thousands of dollars in personal debt for both credit cards and student loans.

Westrom, an attorney and former state senator, owes between $15,001 and $50,000 to U.S. Bank in credit card loans. In addition, he owes between $50,001 and $100,000 to a student loan servicing company, according to personal financial disclosures filed earlier this year.

Westrom's campaign spokeswoman Caitlin Carroll said in a statement: "As small business owners, Torrey and his wife have a credit card for business-related expenses."

The Westroms own a real estate rental property business.

He also carries two mortgage debts, one between $15,001 and $50,000 and another between $100,001 and $250,000.

Personal financial disclosures are required annually of all members of Congress and anyone running for federal office.They must disclose assets and salary in huge ranges, like between $15,001 and $50,000 or $50,000 and $100,000.

Westrom's annual salary as a state senator is $31,140. He also noted on his disclosures that he earned $23,000 at Midwest Injury Law, LLC.

Rep. Peterson's disclosures show he has no credit card debt, but carries three mortgages: one between $100,000 and $250,000 on a residence in Washington, D.C., one between $250,002 and $500,000 on a property in Detroit Lakes and $100,001 to $250,000 on a mortgage owed on Peterson Farms. As a member of Congress, Peterson earns $174,000 annually as a member of Congress.

Rep. Betty McCollum praises National Guard for dropping Earnhardt sponsorship

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: August 7, 2014 - 3:48 PM

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum praised the National Guard Thursday after it announced earlier this week it would end its $32 million annual sponsorship of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and its $12 million contract with IndyCar driver Graham Rahal.

The money was meant to boost recruiting, but Pentagon officials were never able to verify the program actually yielded any new recruits.

McCollum, from her perch on the defense appropriations sub-committee, has criticized the program for several yearsIn 2012, she found Republican support in ending the program in Rep. Jack Kingston, a Republican from Georgia.

It was unclear Thursday whether the Pentagon would do away completely with NASCAR sponsorships. The announcement was only about Earnhardt and Rahal. McCollum's office said the Pentagon also uses taxpayer-funded "marketing" money on professional fishing, motocross, World Wrestling Entertainment and cage fighting.

“Cancelling this NASCAR racing team contract is a victory for taxpayers and I’m pleased to say the National Guard has finally made the correct decision," said McCollumn, who represents St. Paul, in a statement. "Paying one race car driver $32 million in taxpayer funds year after year to put a logo on his car has been a complete waste of tax dollars."