Minnesota's U.S. Senate race is hitting metro hot spots this week.
On Wednesday, it was New York for Republican Mike McFadden. On Friday, Democratic Sen. Al Franken will travel to Chicago.
The reason for both trips? Cash.
McFadden was in New York City for a high dollar fundraiser with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Franken will travel to Chicago for a low-dollar fundraiser with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.
Both also have spent time campaigning in Minnesota this week.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison said he is “proud to stand” with fast-food workers protesting nationwide to demand a $15 minimum wage and the right to form a union.
Strikers gather Thursday in more than 100 cities, including Minneapolis, where Ellison joined workers in pre-dawn demonstrations.
A number of fast-food workers make close to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or roughly $15,000 annually. Some say that is not a living wage, especially for workers who are supporting families.
“Thousands of fast food workers will be out in the street today, demanding a living wage and the right to organize,” said Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
“They’re doing it because they have families to feed and parents to look after. They’re doing it because they have basic needs that can’t be met at $7.25 an hour. They’re standing for the possibility of a better future and an economy that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy few. I’m proud to stand with them.”
The National Council of Chain Restaurants, an industry trade group, took issue with the protests, which led to arrests in several cities.
"There are millions of workers in the food retail industry who find personal satisfaction in their work and appreciate the opportunities provided by the restaurants that hire them,” executive director Rob Green said in a statement. "The activities being coordinated, financed and facilitated by labor unions - desperate for new membership dues - accomplish absolutely nothing."
The strike comes just days after President Obama voiced his support for the movement at a Labor Day speech in Wisconsin.
"All across the country right now, there's a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers organizing to life wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity," Obama said.
BRAINERD -- GOP Congressional candidate Stewart Mills believes in health care reform, sensible environmental regulation and would even seek out federal cash for appropriate district projects.
He just doesn't like the way the Democrats on Capitol Hill have been going about any of this work.
In a sit-down with the Star Tribune between campaign events here at his headquarters, Mills answered a few questions:
--What did you think of recent comments made by GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden that he would use Chinese steel to build the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, as long as it was cheaper?
"I'm not going to distance from myself from anybody's comments .. but I will tell you what I believe: Any pipeline that's going to be built, especially the Keystone, is going to be built with U.S. steel. We know the competing steel from countries are violating trade agreements by manipulating their currencies ... I don' t think we should be rewarding them for cheating."
--Rep. Rick Nolan openly seeks out federal money for local projects in the district. How would you approach seeking out federal cash to bring back home?
"I think that people in this part of Minnesota understand that that's gotta be paid for somewhere. If there's a project that's worthwhile, that makes sense for this district, I would advocate for it too. However, I would not try to use that as a leverage point to get reelected."
--How is the campaign going so far?
"There's no part of the 8th district we don't think we're going to do well. We think our message cuts across all geographic areas and people that have traditionally been pegged as Democrats I think will be looking at our campaign with open eyes."
--You have said you don't support the Paul Ryan Budget plan, supported by the majority of House Republicans and approved in the spring of 2014. (Though not taken up by the Senate.) Tell me why.
"I agree with repealing Obamacare but I don't agree with the cuts to Medicare Advantage. I believe that money should be returned to Medicare and then we have to reform the system ... That's how it becomes sustainable."
According to Federal Election Commission data, Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District race has attracted the most money from outside groups so far.
The contest between Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican Stewart Mills has already seen nearly $1.4 million in PAC spending, with much of it coming from Nolan supporters, such as the House Majority Fund and the AFSCME union.
In contrast, the race for the Seventh Congressional District seat, which Republican Torrey Westrom hopes to snatch from longtime Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, has only seen $245,000 in independent expenditures. Interestingly, the last filing documenting outside spending in that race was from eight months ago.
Minnesota's U.S. Senate race, so far, has drawn relatively little interest from independent spenders. According to FEC filings, outside groups have spent about $140,000 to weigh in on the battle between Democratic Sen. Al Franken and Republican Mike McFadden.
The FEC calculations only include expenditures that represent, "spending by individual people, groups, political committees, corporations or unions expressly advocating the election or defeat of clearly identified federal candidates."
This post first appeared in our Morning Hot Dish political newsletter. If you're not already getting the political newsletter by email, it's easy and free to sign up. Go to StarTribune.com/membercenter, check the Politics newsletter box and save the change.
Massachusetts congressman Joe Kennedy III will visit Minnesota on Thursday to headline a campaign rally and fundraiser for colleague Rick Nolan, who faces a tough re-election race this fall.
Kennedy, son of former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II and grandson of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York, is expected to draw a large crowd to Carmody’s Irish Pub.
Kennedy and Nolan will also attend a private fundraiser at a residence St. Paul and a meet-and-greet at Everyday Joe Coffee and Café in North Branch.
A rising star on Capitol Hill, Kennedy has launched a leadership PAC to help colleagues in need of campaign cash and Nolan has been among the beneficiaries.
During Nolan’s first go-around in Congress in the 1970s and early 1980s, he was an ally of Kennedy’s great uncle, former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.
The Cook Political Report considers the race between Nolan and Republican challenger Stewart Mills III a toss-up.