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 Minnesota campaigns

Voter pre-registration deadline for primary is one week away

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: July 15, 2014 - 4:21 PM

Minnesota voters have one week to pre-register to vote for the state's Aug. 12 Primary Election.

This year, voters will decide a U.S. Senate seat, all of the state's eight U.S. House seats, governor, state officers and other Minnesota House Seats. The 2014 election also includes county commissioners, county sheriffs, county attorneys, auditors, treasurers and recorders.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie urges eligible voters to sign up before the July 22 deadline at www.mnvotes.org to save wait times at the polling place. Nearly 5,700 voters have successfully registered online.

Voters may also pre-register by contacting their local elections office to request a voter registration application form, or download and print an application--available in several languages--here.

Voters who miss the July 22 pre-registration deadline can still register at their polling place on Primary Election Day by bringing an approved proof of residence. Voters may continue to register to vote online for the Nov. 4 General Election through 11:59 p.m. Oct. 14.

The website includes helfpul tools for requesting an absentee ballot, looking up the status of a ballot, checking to see if you're registered to vote at your current address, viewing a sample ballot and finding a polling place.

Here are other key dates:

July 22: Pre-registration deadline for Primary Election. Voters should pre-register to avoid long lines at the polls. However, you may still register on Primary Election Day.

Aug. 12: Primary Election Day

Sept. 19: Absentee ballots will be available for the General Election

Oct. 14: Pre-registration deadline for the General Election. Voters who miss this deadline may still vote on election day.

Nov. 4: General Election Day.

Sign up here for election-related e-mail updates.

Nolan maintains fundraising lead over Mills in Eighth District race

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: July 15, 2014 - 4:56 PM

Republican congressional candidate Stewart Mills III outraised Democratic incumbent Rep. Rick Nolan during the months of April, May and June, according to figures released from their campaigns.

Mills’ campaign raised more than $338,000 and Nolan brought in almost $284,000 during the latest fundraising quarter.

The totals marked the best fundraising periods of the election cycle for the Eighth Congressional District candidates. Mills campaign spokeswoman Chloe Rockow said the Fleet Farm vice president also loaned “around $100,000" to his campaign.

Despite being outraised by Mills during three of the last four fundraising quarters, Nolan still has a $148,000 cash-on-hand advantage.

Nolan has $577,000 banked for his re-election bid. Mills has raised $429,000 since entering the race in June 2013.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has named Mills to its "Young Guns" program for promising GOP candidates.

Political prognosticators expect the Nolan-Mills race to be among the most competitive in the nation. Outside groups have already spent $500,000 backing Mills' campaign, Federal Election Commission records show.

Uptick in absentee ballot votes this year

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 11, 2014 - 11:57 AM

With a competitive gubernatorial primary, 15 legislative primaries and a new law allowing anyone to vote absentee, more Minnesotans are voting early.

According to the Secretary of State's office, as of Thursday more than 2,000 Minnesotans had successfully cast absentee ballots for the August 12th primary.

That's more than previous years at similar points in the election cycle. In 2010, by July 18, only 1,500 Minnesotans had cast absentee ballots. That year, the first when Minnesota had an August primary rather than an election in September, featured a DFL primary for governor as well as several hot local races.

This year, for the first time, Minnesotans do not need to give an excuse for why they want to vote absentee. That change, plus encouragement from political campaigns to vote early, may explain the uptick in absentee ballots.

Minnesotans can register to vote, request absentee ballots and track their ballots online at http://www.mnvotes.org.

Franken raised $3.3 million; McFadden raised $1.1 million

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 10, 2014 - 3:21 PM

The money is flowing in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race.

On Thursday, in advance of Tuesday's federal campaign finance deadline, both Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken and his chief Republican rival Mike McFadden released their most recent fundraising numbers.

In the last three months, Franken, long a prodigious cash gatherer, raised 'over $3.3 million,' according to his campaign. McFadden, who has promised he will have to resources to compete, raised 'over $1.1 million,' his campaign said.

For the cycle, Franken has brought in $18.4 million. But most of it has been spent.Franken, who has been running an aggressive cycle of television advertisements, had $5 million cash on hand as of the start of this month.

Since starting to run last year, McFadden has raised $4 million. He had about half of it left at the start of July. McFadden, who won the Republican party's endorsement in May, only began a broadcast advertising campaign last week.

McFadden will face an August primary against several other Republicans, none of whom have raised significant cash, before he could vie against Franken in November.

So far, national outside groups have largely stayed out of the state's Senate race, with just a few exceptions. If the race tightens in the coming months, they may dump millions on Minnesota to influence the outcome.

Freedom Club on the air

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 10, 2014 - 1:28 PM

The conservative, Minnesota-based Freedom Club has started running a broadcast ad going after DFL Gov. Mark Dayton “and the Democrats.”

The ad, which targets government spending, repeatedly mentions a “luxury office building” in reference to the new Senate office building going up this year.

“Minnesota, we deserve better,” is the ad’s tagline.

According to public documents, the group has spent significant cash to run the ad. It spent nearly $160,000 to run it on KARE11 through August. That would indicate more than $500,000 in spending if it equalized its ad time across all four statewide stations.

With millions of dollars in campaign spending in recent years, the Freedom Club, supported by wealthy Minnesota conservatives, is one of the largest political action committees in the state.

Both Dayton's campaign and the pro-Democrat Alliance for a Better Minnesota sent reporters fact checks, claiming the ad takes the record out of context and gets basic things wrong.

Freedom Club officials did not return a message inquiring about the ad.

MN FREEDOM CLUB-901229 (14049403874870) by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger