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.

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Posts about Minnesota campaigns

DFL releases first ad; hammers on GOP's Johnson on education

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: September 15, 2014 - 5:40 PM

The Minnesota DFL Party is releasing a television ad hamming Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson on education.

The ad is part of $1 million ad campaign the party is planning to support DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's re-election.

The DFL's television campaign is one of the largest so far in the low-profile governor's race.

Dayton has reserved ad time for later this month. Johnson, whose campaign has had less money in the bank, said over the weekend that he hopes to be on the air as well by the end of the this month.

The DFL ad gives the appearance of a positive ad, featuring happy music and parents talking about education, but attacks Johnson largely on decade-old votes he took in the Legislature and praises Dayton.

"It seems like schools are not Jeff Johnson's priority," Jennifer Nelson, a teacher who is clearly pregnant, says in the ad.

Johnson, who is now a Hennepin County commissioner, served in the Minnesota House from 2001 to 2006. When he first joined the Legislature he had said that education was one of his top priorities.

It still is a top priority, Johnson communications director Jeff Bakken said.

"Unlike Mark Dayton, Jeff was educated entirely in Minnesota public schools and his kids are being educated entirely in Minnesota public schools," Bakken said. "Jeff repeatedly voted to increase education funding as a legislator. Like most Minnesotans, Jeff also knows that there is a lot more to education than just spending."

Earlier this month, big spending Alliance for a Better Minnesota also released a television ad hammering the Republican candidate on education.

That the two Democratic groups picked the same issue to blast over the airwaves should be no surprise.

For years, Democrats have participated in a polling and research consortium, called Project Lakes and Plains, that allows them to share information.

The result is they read from the same playbook and that playbook says in the midterm election that Minnesota voters care deeply about education issues. By July, Minnesota Democratic campaigns had paid Project Lakes and Plains nearly $200,000.

It is not clear whether the Minnesota Republican Party, which is still recovering from a previous administration's debt, will run any television ads this year on Johnson's behalf.

Last week, Republican Party spokesman Brittni Palke, said: "The MNGOP will not be announcing an ad buy." But did not clarify whether that statement means the party would not announce an ad buy in advance or would not make an ad buy this year.

Here's the new DFL ad:


Data editor Glenn Howatt contributed to this report.

Comedian Maher targets Kline for 'Flip a District' campaign

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: September 15, 2014 - 4:15 AM

HBO host Bill Maher is targeting U.S. Rep. John Kline as the Republican lawmaker he wants to oust from Congress in his "Flip a District" challenge.

The comedian and political satirist announced the "winning loser” during a live broadcast of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

“John Kline doesn’t say kooky things, but he votes just like the people who do,” Maher said.

Calling him the “champion of for-profit colleges,” Maher said he targeted Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, for voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than times and siding against gay marriage and a minimum wage increase.

In 2012, Maher donated $1 million to a political action committee devoted to President Obama’s re-election campaign. But the comedian could have a tough time unseating Kline, who's not a top Democratic target

Kline faces a rematch this year with former Democratic state Rep. Mike Obermueller.

“This news confirms what we’ve been hearing more and more of each day: folks in the [Second District] are tired of John Kline, and they’re ready to kick him out office,” Obermueller said in a statement. “People are fired up and are organizing across the district to remove him from a seat he’s become too comfortable in.”

Obermueller lost to Kline by eight points in 2012, but faces a much less favorable environment in a midterm election year when Kline is expected to coast to re-election.

Like Obermueller, Kline hopes to seize on the announcement as a rallying point. He’s aiming to raise $100,000 for television ads to counteract Maher’s campaign.

“As promised, Maher is turning his liberal guns on our districts and using his TV megaphone and million-dollar war chest to defeat me in November,” Kline wrote in an email to supporters.

“My opponent … is walking hand-in-hand with Maher and has practically named him his campaign manager, focusing on the #FlipADistrict campaign against me and doing whatever he can to pander to Maher and his extreme liberal friends.”

Viewers picked Kline as Maher's target, selecting him over three other House Republicans: Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, Blake Farenthold of Texas and Mike Coffman of Colorado.

GOP House hopeful Stewart Mills stands by attack ad

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: September 12, 2014 - 3:15 PM

Republican congressional candidate Stewart Mills III is standing by an attack ad that has drawn fire from a powerful Iron Range union.

Attacking Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan as an out-of-touch D.C. politician, the 60-second commercial suggests that he ignores labor interests in his northern Minnesota district.

"Rick Nolan doesn't have any sense of what's going on in northern Minnesota," said Steve Biondich, a steelworker from Aurora and treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 6115.

"Since Rick Nolan's been elected, I haven't seen him once in the Iron Range. He's gone to Washington. He's part of the problem. Jobs aren't being created. The wages aren't going up. People are having a hard time paying the bills."

High-ranking United Steelworker leaders took issue with Biondich’s claims, arguing that his statements are manufactured.

“Nobody has been a stronger advocate for the Iron Range than Rick Nolan. If Steve hasn’t seen Nolan on the Range then he has either been asleep or not paying attention,” said John Rebrovich, assistant to the director of the United Steelworkers’ nine-state District 11.

Mills campaign spokeswoman Chloe Rockow said: “Steve's comments in the ad are reflective of what we hear over and over again from Iron Rangers. Unlike Rick Nolan, Stewart Mills will put actions behind his words when he says he supports the Iron Range.”

In the spot, Biondich also urged voters to look past party affiliation when deciding which candidate is best for the Eighth Congressional District, but he’s a GOP supporter. He donated to the 2010 campaign of former GOP congressman Chip Cravaack, who Nolan unseated in 2012.

"The ad speaks for itself," Biondich wrote in an email to the Star Tribune.

Biondich, 33, also took heat from the DFL for postings on his Facebook page, including a suggestion that if a woman wants to walk down the aisle, “send that (expletive) grocery shopping.”

The state DFL hosted a rally in Duluth on Friday, with women demanding that Mills account for the content on Biondich’s social media page.

Biondich declined to comment his social media posts and directed questions to Rockow.

“While Stewart and his wife don't agree with the comments in question, I think it's hypocritical for Democrats to target Stewart here while Rick Nolan has campaigned with a convicted sex offender,” Rockow said.

Amid GOP criticism, Nolan ultimately canceled a planned fundraiser with Peter Yarrow, the singer from the 1960s band Peter, Paul and Mary, who admitted in 1970 to having improper relations with a 14-year-old girl.

Johnson hammers on unionization again

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: September 17, 2014 - 1:19 PM

Standing in front of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's temporary Capitol area office, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson said he would try to reverse the massive unionization of child care and home health workers now underway in Minnesota if he became governor.

"I would certainly try," Johnson said. "It would be hard to reverse but not impossible."

Republicans, including Johnson, have long hammered on Dayton and DFLers in the Legislature for approving a measure to allow child care and home health care workers to decide whether to unionize. The resulting unions would negotiate with the state.

The controversial 2013 legislative vote was a top priority for the Service Employees International Union, which is working with home care workers, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which works with child care workers.

Last month, home health care workers approved unionization. Child care providers are organizing a unionization vote for next year.

Johnson and anti-unionization activist Jennifer Parrish, a child care businesswoman, both suggested that Dayton's support of unionization was "payback" for union support and contributions during the 2010 election.

Although a quid pro quo of support in exchange for administrative action could be illegal, Johnson said he was not accusing Dayton of any illegal activity.

Jeremy Drucker, spokesman for the Dayton campaign, declined to comment on Johnson's accusation of payback. But he did say the governor believes in child care providers' right to organize.

"Governor Dayton supports giving child care providers the chance to hold an election and decide for themselves whether or not they want to form a union. This right was guaranteed by the U.S. Congress in 1935," Drucker said in a statement.

Dayton, who has been in Minnesota politics for decades, has long been considered union-friendly and during his term and campaign has received significant support from Minnesota unions. He has not always, however, moved in lock step with union interests and before the 2010 primary, many unions supported one of his Democratic opponents.

Jennifer Munt, a spokeswoman for AFSCME, said Johnson position shows he is "against working women."

As to the accusation of "payback," she said "we support candidates who support workers...for us that is our fundamental value."

Updated to remove photo and fix a typo.

Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald's bid for cameras during trial denied

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: September 11, 2014 - 10:34 AM

By Liz Sawyer


A Dakota County District Court judge on Wednesday denied Minnesota Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald’s request to allow cameras in the courtroom during her upcoming DWI trial.  

Judge Leslie M. Metzen, ruling from the bench, cited judicial precedent in prohibiting cameras in the courtroom and stressed the potential for distractions with their presence.

MacDonald’s lawyer, Stephen V. Grigsby, argued that “The most objective way for the public to attend [the trial] is through the presence of a camera.” MacDonald attended the hearing but did not speak during the court appearance.

MacDonald, a family law attorney endorsed by the Republican Party, faces a trial on Monday for a 2013 arrest in which police say she resisted arrest and refused a breathalyzer test after an officer said he smelled alcohol during a traffic stop. MacDonald is running against Justice Lillehaug, who was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

MacDonald told reporters after the hearing that she didn’t expect Metzen’s ruling to impede her ability to receive a fair trial, but said it limited public access.

MacDonald made headlines in mid-August after filing a complaint alleging that GOP officials disseminated false information about her and attempted to coerce her into rejecting their endorsement. An administrative judge dismissed that claim on Tuesday.


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