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And, in closing: Here are the final TV ads in key election races

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: November 3, 2014 - 1:01 PM

Candidates for governor, Senate and Congress have spent millions to get dozens of messages on television.

But, with Election Day nearly here, these are the words they really want you to remember.

Here are their final, closing argument television ads.

Governor

Republican Jeff Johnson

Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner raised in Detroit Lakes, tailored his final ads to three different parts of the state. In all three ads, Johnson is standing in a sun-dappled, tree stand.

"He's just not up to the job any more," Johnson says of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. "It's time for new leadership in Minnesota."

In two other ads, he claims that he, unlike Dayton, will focus on Greater Minnesota.


DFL Gov. Mark Dayton

Dayton's final ad is called "Rising" and highlights the way his campaign believes the state is better since Dayton took office and will be even better if he wins again.

"Mark Dayton knows we have much more to do, to help struggling families, make college more affordable, and help small businesses grow," the narrator says. "Moving forward together."


U.S. Senate

Republican Mike McFadden

McFadden's final ad shows a contrast -- the country as it is, with the country as it could be.

"Everything is at stake," a narrator reads, as various scenes of Minnesota life flit by. "Our hopes, our dreams, our future....We can make America great again."


Democratic U.S. Al Franken

Franken's final ad, called "Delivered," uses quotations from newspaper editorial endorsements to promote the candidate.

"Newspapers across Minnesota back Al Franken," the ad's narrator says. Video of Franken meeting with various people shows as different voices read selections from the pro-Franken endorsements.

Eighth Congressional District

Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan

Nolan, fighting to keep his northern Minnesota district, closed his campaign with an ad that shows him speaking to a crowd and going hunting. Against that backdrop, Nolan gives his enthusiastic stump speech.

"It's time to do what's right for the middle class," Nolan says in the ad.


Republican Stewart Mills

In Mills final ad, he speaks directly to the camera and makes the ask for viewers' votes.

"Minnesota is my home," he says in the ad, which includes childhood photos of Mills. "I'm Stewart Mills. I approved this message and I'd appreciate your vote."

Poll finds tightening race for governor; Franken leads by double digits

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: November 3, 2014 - 8:28 AM

Both Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken are holding onto leads in a new KSTP-TV/SurveyUSA poll, but Dayton's race in particular has tightened.

The poll, taken Oct. 27-30, found Dayton leading Republican Jeff Johnson, 47 to 42 percent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Hannah Nicollet of the Independence Party had the support of 2 percent, as did Libertarian Party candidate Chris Holbrook. Six percent were undecided or supporting other minor candidates. 

The poll found Dayton's support slipping among independents, with Johnson leading by 12 points. Dayton still holds a notable advantage with women voters, though that support has also slipped from previous polls. 

Dayton has led Johnson in every independent poll of the race, though what was once a healthy lead has shrunk. A Star Tribune poll published a week ago found Dayton leading Johnson, 45 percent to 38 percent. 

The KSTP poll found Franken with a larger lead over challenger Mike McFadden, 51 to 40 percent, though that lead too is smaller than Franken's lead in the last SurveyUSA poll. The IP's Steve Carlson is at 4 percent and Libertarian Heather Johnson is at 2 percent. Four percent are undecided or back other candidates. 

Franken, too, has never trailed McFadden in any poll of their race. The recent Star Tribune poll found Franken up over McFadden, 48 to 39 percent, although past SurveyUSA polls showed Franken with a much wider lead than he holds in the new one. 

All four of the statewide candidates planned full days of campaigning Monday, ahead of the start of voting on Tuesday morning. Dayton is joining the DFL's  bus tour for several events throughout Minneapolis: at Urban League headquarters in the early afternoon, at the University of Minnesota in the evening and then later stops at organized labor offices in Minneapolis and St. Paul. 

Johnson is holding meet-and-greet stops with Twin Cities voters throughout the day: at a suburban park and ride, in grocery stores and other spots. He's also makinig get-out-the-vote calls and visiting Republican volunteers at several sites. 

Franken is also participating in multiple stops on the DFL bus tour. McFadden is flying around the state with Sixth Congressional District GOP candidate Tom Emmer to campaign at greater Minnesota locations. 

More than $780,000 in late money raining on Minnesota campaigns

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 29, 2014 - 11:25 AM

In the last week, more than $780,000 has refueled Minnesota's political campaigns, much of it to influence the heated contest for control of the Minnesota House.

WIN Minnesota, a funding arm of the Democratic Alliance for a Better Minnesota, has received almost $142,000 since Oct. 21. Most of that money has come from unions.

The Minnesota Jobs Coalition, which has campaigned to win a Republican House, has brought in more than $110,000 in that same time period. The coalition's largest contributor was the Republican State Leadership Committee, which focused on legislative races. The RSLC gave the group $75,000.

Other outside groups, largely ones that support Democrats, are bringing late cash to bear in Minnesota.

A host of union-driven organizations has seen more than $300,000 flow into their coffers of late. Many of those donations came from the union's parent organizations. Among them:

Education Minnesota, which generally spends more on elections than any other Minnesota union, notified the state it brought in $100,000.

Public Safety Matters received more than $110,000, including $75,000 from WIN Minnesota.

The Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund brought in a $108,000 check from its related organization.

The two men who would be governor are also making late fundraising pushes.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton received $28,000 in large donations since last Tuesday. Republican Jeff Johnson received $22,500.

In a fundraising pitch sent on Tuesday, Johnson told Republicans in a video he needed $50,000 for Greater Minnesota radio ads and $75,000 to complete his digital campaign plans.

In the text of the appeal, Johnson told supporters: "Don't let the Democrat driven media fool you -- this election is going to come down to the wire."

Asked to delineate the specific complaints against the media and the media-controlling Democrats to which the appeal referred, Johnson spokesman Jeff Bakken declined.

Instead he said, "This is a fundraising email to Republicans and our donors. Jeff's comments in the video and note speak for themselves."

Democrats start final sprint to Election Day at State Capitol rally

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: October 29, 2014 - 10:52 AM

Minnesota's top Democrats gathered in front of the Capitol Wednesday morning to launch a six-day, 31-stop bus tour of the state that's aimed at firing up the party's supporters and motivating them to vote next Tuesday. 

Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken, both of whom face voters next week, joined with the party's other statewide candidates, members of Congress and congressional candidates, legislators, the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and party and union activists. 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, not on the ballot this year, teased her colleague Franken, whom recent polls have shown sitting on a comfortable lead over GOP challenger Mike McFadden. 

"The latest polls have him not 10 votes ahead, but 10 points ahead," Klobuchar said, a reference to Franken's razor-thin win in 2008, which led to a months-long recount and lawsuit. 

Dayton's running mate, Tina Smith, related a discussion the two had a day earlier about the governor's view of where his race against Republican Jeff Johnson sits in its final days. Smith said Dayton often jokes that she's "hope" and he's "reality."

"I said, 'how do you feel?'" Smith said. "And he said, I feel like it's a hockey game, and I'm the goalie, and we're one point ahead and we've got two minutes, and anything could happen."

The red, white and blue bus chartered by the party has a busy schedule of stops in the coming days, with rallies on Wednesday alone in Mankato, Albert Lea, Rochester and Winona. Ensuing days bring stops throughout the state, as statewide, congressional and legislative candidates take turns participating.

Minnesota Republicans are not mounting a similar bus tour, but state GOP chairman Keith Downey said on Tuesday that its candidates would be canvassing the state in the coming days and at times making joint appearances, as well as appearing with local legislative candidates. 

Johnson campaigned Wednesday morning at a suburban bus rapid transit station, and had plans to do retail campaining later in the day in New Ulm, Fairmont and Worthington. McFadden is campaigning in Duluth with Becky Hall, a local state House candidate. 

Dayton, Johnson at fundraising parity for the year

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 28, 2014 - 4:48 PM

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glenn Howatt

Although DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has had a fundraising advantage throughout the campaign, Republican challenger Jeff Johnson has caught up.

According to fundraising reports made public on Tuesday, Dayton has raised just over $2 million in his quest to keep the governor's job and Johnson has raised $1.96 million since January. As of Oct. 20, neither had very much money left for the final stretch -- Dayton had just $342,000 and Johnson had $454,000.

Both candidates have spent time fundraising in the final weeks. Last week, Dayton brought former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Minnesota for a fundraiser. The cash from that fundraiser has yet to be fully reported the state because it came after the close of the reporting period.

For months, Johnson's schedule has been as likely to say he is raising money at private events as he is doing retail politics.

The push has paid off for Johnson of late.

Since Sept. 16, the last fundraising report, Johnson brought in $710,000, while Dayton brought in $427,000.

Still, over the two year campaign period, from 2013 to 2014, Dayton has raised and spent far more money.

Katharine Tinucci, Dayton's campaign manager, on Tuesday said the campaign had released its last television ad of the cycle. The ad, called "Rising," highlights the progress Dayton believes he has brought to Minnesota and hopes to bring.

"The October 20th cash on hand figure coupled with a strong last week of fundraising puts the Mark Dayton for a Better Minnesota campaign in position to finish the final week of the campaign with a robust advertising buy to help get out the Governor’s message," Tinucci said.

The campaign will spend about $350,000 to air the ad during the final week of the campaign, bringing its total ad spending to about $2 million, she said.

Dayton can only raise about $600,000 more for his campaign given the spending cap he agreed to abide by in exchange for a public subsidy.

Johnson has a lot more room to grow -- if he can raise the cash. He has spent $1.8 million so far and is permitted to spend almost $4.4 million. Johnson has a higher spending limit because he faced a contested primary.

Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Hannah Nicollet did not qualify for a public subsidy and has run a much lower dollar campaign than either Johnson or Dayton. She has raised $20,665 this year and spent $13,191.

Here's a further look at Dayton and Johnson's fundraising numbers for 2014, as reported to the state campaign finance board:

Updated

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