Sen. Al Franken spoke to a crowd of several hundred at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, reminding voters there about his legislation aimed at preventing rampant sex assaults on tribal lands, as well as improving health care and bringing school reconstruction dollars to American Indians.
Franken, the first-term Democrat in a re-election contest with businessman Mike McFadden, appeared for the first-ever celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day.
Franken opened with a self-deprecating story about his first powwow, when he was advised by an American Indian aide not to dance but did anyway after encouragement from the crowd and a promise not to ridicule him.
"I was a dancing fool," he said.
Earlier in the day Franken held a news conference to discuss his efforts to crack down on so-called “stalking apps" that allow users to track another person's location without their knowledge or consent.
During the news conference he endorsed closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, trying the terrorism suspects in American courts and holding them in American maximum security prisons. He said President Obama does not have authority to do so without approval from Congress, however.
The McFadden campaign said the Guantanamo proposal is "out of touch" in light of the newest American military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and said it showed Franken's allegiance to the Obama White House.
Updated with Dayton campaign response.
The morning after a lively gubernatorial debate in Moorhead, Republican candidate Jeff Johnson has released a new TV ad aimed at Gov. Mark Dayton's record.
Titled "Unaware," Johnson's second ad hits Dayton with allegations of incompetence. It cites several high-profile projects on Dayton's watch in which the governor distanced himself from controversial aspects: bonuses for MNsure executives, and several aspects of the Vikings stadium project, including high seat license fees and a civil lawsuit against team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf.
"I'll be a 24/7 leader who owns his decisions. The buck stops with me," Johnson says in the ad.
The ad also features a clip of Dayton standing with President Obama, who according to recent polls is increasingly unpopular in Minnesota.
"It's not surprising to see a desperate attack from a candidate so far behind," Dayton campaign spokesman Linden Zakula said. "Commissioner Johnson offers no real ideas to improve education, create jobs, or help Minnesota families. It's easy for Commissioner Johnson to be against everything when he, himself, proposes nothing."
Johnson's campaign said it is spending $400,000 to air the ad on broadcast television statewide. Dayton's campaign has aired two television ads, both mainly focused on the governor's record in office.
On Wednesday, several Dayton campaign officials sent out fundraising missives warning supporters they might have to cut the size of their TV ad buy if the pace of fundraising doesn't pick up.
On Thursday Dayton is speaking at a forum sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota that's closed to the press. In the afternoon, the governor is convening a group of Cabinet members and airport officials to discuss Minnesota's Ebola prevention and preparation efforts.
Johnson is at a Hennepin County Board budget hearing in the morning, and in the afternoon he is speaking to the Minnesota Telecom Alliance.
Here's Johnson's new ad:
Gov. Mark Dayton's second television ad of his campaign showcases a real Minnesota family, as the governor describes their worries and argues that policies he pursued have helped ease middle-class burdens.
"Like a lot of Minnesotans, the Ports worry," Dayton narrates, as the ad shows Steve and Lindsey Port of Burnsville making breakfast and getting ready for the day. "About their jobs, their debts, their kids' education."
In the ad, Dayton said concerns like that are why he pursued middle-class tax relief, expanded all-day kindergarten, froze college tuition, and "demanded pay equity so that women get paid equally for doing the same work.
"That's what I found for as governor, and we're just getting started," Dayton said.
The Ports own a small business in Burnsville that sells board and card games, imports and distributes card game supplies, and operates large-scale card game events. The Dayton campaign said Lindsey Port is also on the campaign team of state Rep. Will Morgan of Burnsville.
The ad is Dayton's second of the campaign, after a hockey-themed ad that also touted Dayton's first-term accomplishments. His Republican opponent, Jeff Johnson, has aired one ad so far, which mixed light-hearted humor with criticism of Dayton's records.
The Dayton campaign said the new ad would air statewide on broadcast and cable channels starting Saturday.
A new TV ad from the Alliance for a Better Minnesota is critical of Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson over the minimum wage issue.
The Alliance, a third party group that supports DFL candidates, has aired a series of TV ads against Johnson. The group said the new ad would begin airing statewide on Tuesday.
The ad features a Minnesota woman, Jessica English, who talks about raising her kids for a time on minimum wage. "It was nearly impossible to get by," said English, raising concerns that Johnson would "reduce the minumum wage."
"Johnson opposes raising the minimum wage, but he supports tax breaks for big corporations," English says in the ad. The Alliance cited several votes that Johnson took as a state legislator in 2005 to back up those claims.
English, a former activist for Occupy Homes MN movement, is now an economic organizer for the progressive group TakeAction MN.
Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill earlier this year raising Minnesota's minimum wage by $1.85, to $8 an hour for large employers. It will keep going up to $9.50 an hour in 2016, and start indexing to inflation in 2018.
Johnson has been critical of the minimum wage bill, and said he does not support automatic increases in the minimum wage.
"He agrees with the woman in the ad -- that it's impossible to raise a family on a minimum wage salary," spokesman Jeff Bakken said. Bakken said Johnson would not cut the current minimum wage, and noted recent economic measures showing Minnesota last in private sector job creation in the Midwest.
"We need more good-paying jobs in our state, and the only way to get them is to get rid of Mark Dayton," Bakken said.
It's the third Alliance ad targeting Johnson's record. The full ad can be viewed here.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glenn Howatt
So far independent and party organizations groups have spent at least $3.7 million in this year's Minnesota governor's race with most of it coming from organizations that support DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's election.
It would take a significant acceleration for the groups, which are not controlled by candidates, to reach the spending levels set in 2010.
Four years ago, when the governor's race had no incumbent, outside groups spent at least $11 million by the end of the election, according to a Star Tribune analysis of campaign finance figures.
The outside groups include political action committees, parties and others that must register with the state. The cash figures do not include cash spent by political nonprofits, which do not need to report their spending to the Minnesota campaign finance agency.
Of the $3.7 million, at least $2.4 million has come from the DFL party, the Democrat-supporting Alliance for a Better Minnesota and union groups.
The lack of spending among outside groups appears similar in Minnesota House races, according to filings made public this week.
So far, those PACs and parties have spent just under $1 million to influence who controls the House next year. Nearly half of that has been ponied up by the DFL Party and the DFL House campaign arm.
In addition, the Freedom Club has run about $900,000 worth of television ads that trash both DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and the DFL Legislature. The Star Tribune included that figure to the spending on the governor's race.
Back in 2012, when the House was last up for election, PACs and parties spent a little more than $4 million to influence that election. Additionally, they spent about $6.7 million to influence the control of the Minnesota Senate. Senate seats will not be on the ballot until 2016.