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, J. Patrick Coolican, Patricia Lopez, Ricardo Lopez, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Corey Mitchell, Allison Sherry and Jim Spencer.

Posts about Republicans

McFadden blasts MNsure insurer pullout as Franken, Obama failure

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: September 17, 2014 - 12:16 PM

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden said the withdrawal of the largest insurer from MNsure, the state’s health care exchange, is evidence of the Affordable Care Act’s failure, blaming President Obama and his opponent, Sen. Al Franken, for enacting what he called a broken system.

PreferredOne was the top-selling insurer on MNsure, but its CEO said they’d be pulling out of the exchange, saying their participation was “not sustainable.” PreferredOne insured six out of 10 MNsure consumers who now will have to seek out other providers and may result in higher healthcare premiums.

“I’m a businessman, and as a businessman I know that when someone provides 60 percent of the market and is the low-cost provider drops out of the program, you’re going to see a significant increase in premiums. This doesn’t work.” McFadden said, pointing to a chart from the Hoover Institution that illustrated the tangle of functions that make up the ACA. “I’m very disappointed in President Obama and Sen. Franken because this program has been based on lies.”

The biggest of all, he said, is that Obama care decreased the cost of insurance in the country. PreferredOne’s withdrawal is proof of that, he argued. However, he said he does not believe the insurance company should be held responsible for leaving MNsure. He remained focused on a system he said could be fixed by a “state-based, market-based, patient-centered” system that allows consumers to buy their insurance across state lines.

Franken spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff said that because of the ACA, 95 percent of Minnesotans are now insured, while the state’s uninsured rate has been halved.

“Mike McFadden would repeal the health law and take us back to a time when women were charged more for health coverage simply because they were women, people with preexisting conditions were denied coverage, half the bankruptcies in this country were connected with health care emergencies and young adults couldn't get covered under their parents' plan,” she said in a statement. “Once again, Mike McFadden has proven that he would rather jump at the opportunity to play politics than actually solve problems.”

McFadden made his statements on the day the Franken campaign launched another ad claiming McFadden’s investment firm, Lazard Middle Market, was involved in a merger that moved an American pharmaceutical company to Ireland to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

McFadden called the ad “patently false,” saying his firm did not represent the company that made the inversion, and that Franken praised a similar move by Medtronic to new headquarters in Ireland. However, while Franken praised the move as a potential job-creator, he also said the it "needs careful scrutiny."

McFadden said he said companies leave the country because they lack the tax incentives to stay.

“What this is evidence of is you have a president and a Democratic senator and a Democratic Senate that don’t understand tax policy and haven’t done anything over the last six years to make the United States have a competitive tax climate.” he said.

Johnson blasts Dayton as "incompetent" as top-selling insurer exits MNsure

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: September 16, 2014 - 5:46 PM

Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson blasted Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday for what he called "breathtaking incompetence," after it was revealed that the insurance company that sold more policies on MNsure than any other is pulling out of the exchange. 

MNsure officials confirmed Tuesday that PreferredOne, the choice of nearly six in 10 consumers who have bought plans on the exchange, would no longer participate. Insurers are expected to release their 2015 MNsure rates in early October. 

"Mark Dayton was desperate to be the first governor in the country to implement Obamacare in Minnesota through MNsure," Johnson said at a Capitol news conference. "He got to handpick his board and handpick his staff and it has been an unmitigated disaster since day one." 

Johnson suggested that PreferredOne pulled out because it was offering artificially low rates on its plans under pressure from Dayton's administration. Jeremy Drucker, spokesman for Dayton's re-election campaign, called that ridiculous. 

"Of course, administration officials encouraged insurers on MNsure to provide the lowest rates possible to the people of Minnesota," Drucker said. "However, the companies were solely responsible for the rates they decided to offer." 

Dayton has owned up to MNsure's struggles. He apologized to consumers who struggled to buy coverage through the glitch-ridden website, and earlier this month he called MNsure's troubled launch the single biggest disappointment of his first term as governor. 

Johnson said if elected, his first goal would be winning a federal waiver that would allow Minnesota to pull out of conforming to the Affordable Care Act. If that's not successful, Johnson said, he would seek to replace MNsure's board of directors and its leadership staff. He also said he'd try to increase competition among those companies selling plans on the site. 

Drucker predicted that if Johnson is elected, he would seek changes that undermine MNsure's mission of boosting insurance coverage rates. 

"This would be devastating to Minnesotans," Drucker said.

Dayton in D.C. to raise campaign cash; Johnson makes several stops in SW Minn.

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: September 15, 2014 - 2:33 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton is raising campaign cash in Washington this week as he tries to keep a financial advantage over his Republican opponent, Jeff Johnson. 

Dayton and running mate Tina Smith traveled to Washington Monday. They're appearing at an evening fundraising reception at a private home, with contributors urged to give $1,000, $500 and $250. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is also appearing at the fundraiser. 

Also on Dayton's schedule is a Tuesday morning fundraiser at D.C. lobbying firm Forbes-Tate, also with Klobuchar in tow. That one has higher suggested donations of $2,000, $1,000 or $500.

Throughout the summer Dayton maintained a significant fundraising advantage over Johnson, whose primary campaign left him with little money in the bank by mid-August. Johnson has said he's spent large amount of times on fundraising since then.

The next snapshot of the candidates' fundraising progress comes at the end of September, which will give a sense of whether Johnson has made any progress toward closing the gap. 

Johnson campaigned in southwestern Minnesota on Monday morning, including at several events with his primary opponent Marty Seifert. 

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:

Updated

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.