The Alliance for a Better Minnesota has found a new Democratic operative to direct its operation through the election, the group announced.
Ben Goldfarb, who ran Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's first campaign and has been active in other campaigns, will guide the big spending Democratic interest group as a senior strategic advisor. Goldfarb is currently the executive director of Wellstone Action, which trains "progressive" candidates.
Carrie Lucking, who has directed the Alliance since 2011, is leaving to work for Education Minnesota. This is her last week at the Alliance.
Education Minnesota spent nearly $5 million on political causes since 2008, including donating at least $660,000 to the Alliance's funders. The Alliance has spent more than $10 million since 2007 to get Minnesota Democrats elected.
Alliance for a Better Minnesota has already run a major television ad promoting Gov. Mark Dayton's re-elected and earlier this month ran online ads going after Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden.
Joe Davis, the Alliance's deputy director, will run the group's day-to-day operations, Alliance Communications Director Emily Bisek said.
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.
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.
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.
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.