A Washington, D.C.-based group is launching a campaign that seeks to link Republican U.S. Reps. Erik Paulsen and John Kline to the Tea Party.
Americans United for Change is trying to tie 47 swing-district Republicans around the nation, to the conservative movement with “Tea Stained,” a legislative scorecard that ranks lawmakers by votes the group sees as aligned with Tea Party values.
The analysis includes 48 U.S. House votes, including votes to defund the Affordable Care Act and those taken during the government shutdown to fund some parts but not all of the government.
The group argues that Paulsen voted with the Tea Party 83 percent of the time in 2013 while Kline’s loyalty score was slightly lower at 79 percent – and that their voting tendencies don’t differ much from U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, founder of the congressional Tea Party caucus.
“Voters deserve better. Whether they embrace the Tea Party ideology or despise it or fall anywhere in between, they have a right to know where their elected representatives fall on the Tea Party spectrum - not where they say they fall, but how they actually vote,” said Americans United for Change President Brad Woodhouse in a statement.
“What it proves, unfortunately for non-extremists who are represented by Republicans, is that there is no longer a meaningful distinction between the Tea Party and the Republican Party in American politics today.”
The label may not stick for Kline and Paulsen. Neither is officially affiliated with the tea party movement.
Kline already has a Tea Party-backed candidate, David Gerson, challenging him for the Republican endorsement in the Second District, which covers the suburbs and exurbs south of the Twin Cities. Paulsen represents the Third District, which includes most of the western Minneapolis suburbs.
Amid the Tea Party's sagging national popularity, Americans United for Change views both Kline and Paulsen as vulnerable this election cycle because President Obama narrowly won both of the districts, which include a sizeable share of independent and Democratic voters, in 2012.
The scorecard is "highly unreliable at best," said Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey. "Clearly, it's just a campaign tactic. If their point is that John Kline and Erik Paulsen voted pretty consistently against Obamacare, that's not a bad thing."
Kline and Paulsen did not respond to requests for comment.
The Minnesota Republican Party and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann favored Domino's. Ron Paul's presidential campaign preferred American Pie.
And last year, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and northern Minnesota Democratic congressional hopeful Jeff Anderson went for Pizza Luce while U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who bested Anderson in a primary, bestowed Sammy's Pizza in both Hibbing and Duluth with his business.
Since Minnesotans can get as passionate about pizza choices as they are about politics, Hot Dish asked the Center for Responsive Politics to generate a list of all the pizza purchases from Minnesota's federal campaigns of late.
Check out the map of pizza payments below and perform your own pizza partisanship on the data here.
Repeal of a device tax that has hit Minnesota medical technology companies hard could be the sweetener that breaks the deadlock over the debt limit and the government shutdown, which went into its 11th day Friday.
A repeal the 2.3 percent medical device tax levied under President Obama’s health care law was part of a package Senate Republicans brought to the White House Friday. The offer would temporarily raise the debt ceiling and fund the government, which has been shut down since Oct. 1.
Maine Republican Susan Collins told reporters afterwards that Obama did not reject the idea of repealing the medical device tax out of hand. She was quoted saying “he clearly also recognizes that it is not the heart of Obamacare.” Her account was seconded by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who said the president called the tax a “legitimate concern” that might not be an integral part of the new health care law.
The Minnesota congressional delegation has uniformly opposed the tax, which has cost large medical technology companies like St. Jude and Medtronic millions of dollars already. But Democrats in the delegation largely oppose making the device tax, or any aspect of Obamacare, part of the budget fight.
Republicans, on the other hand, have tied several measures defunding or delaying Obamacare to a spending resolution that would reopen the government.
Minnesota Republican Erik Paulsen, working with Democrat Ron Kind of Wisconsin, has been pushing behind the scenes in the House to offer up a device tax repeal as a compromise. The question remains, however, whether that alone would be enough for Republicans, or whether Democrats would even put it on the table.
Some House Democratic leaders reacted with dismay at the prospect of repealing a tax that is expected to raise $30 billion to help fund the new health care law over the next decade. New York Democrats Joe Crowley, vice chairman of the Democratic caucus, lampooned the proposal.
But with closed-door talks intensifying Friday to end the impasse, it remained hard to predict whether the tax will stay on or go off.
Minnesota Republicans Erik Paulsen and John Kline have rejected Democratic calls to sign a petition to force a straight up-or-down vote in the U.S. House to reopen the federal government, now in its eighth day of shutdown.
While President Obama appealed Tuesday to “reasonable Republicans,” House Democrats have embarked on a longshot strategy to force a vote through a parliamentary maneuver called a “discharge petition.” It would require the signatures of 218 House members to override the opposition of House Speaker John Boehner and the GOP leadership.
Democrats, a minority in the House, say they could produce about 200 of the needed votes. But breaking the logjam would require another 18 or so Republicans to defy their party’s leaders, who have made blocking the implementation of the President Obama’s health care overhaul a condition of funding the government.
Kline has remained silent on the prospect of a “clean,” no-strings-attached vote on funding the government. Paulsen has said he would be willing to consider it, making him one of an estimated 20 House Republicans possibly willing to do so. (Paulsen’s stance has also drawn protests from more conservative Republicans in Minnesota).
Rep. Michele Bachmann, the only other Minnesota Republican in the House, is not on anybody’s list of wavering Republicans who might be willing to drop the GOP’s demands for defunding or delaying Obamacare.
Obama also called on Boehner Tuesday to hold a vote on reopening the goverment without conditions.
Former WCCO news anchor Don Shelby played down reports of his interest in a congressional run Thursday night, but didn’t rule it out.
In a belated email to the Star Tribune after a visit to the dentist, Shelby said he is “flattered” to be approached, but added he is “still a reporter.”
(Update: President George W. Bush won the Third District in 2004, beating Democrat John Kerry 51-to-48).