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 Minnesota U.S. senators

SurveyUSA poll shows Franken way up; McFadden trashes poll

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 7, 2014 - 1:34 PM

A new SurveyUSA/KSTP poll finds that Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken had an 18 percentage point advantage over Republican Mike McFadden, a larger lead than any previous poll.

According to the poll, 55 percent of people said they would vote for Franken and 37 said they would vote for McFadden. The poll, conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 2, surveyed 577 likely voters and had a 4.1 percentage point plus or minus margin of error.

It found that Franken's lead doubled from nine percent in the pollster's September survey.

The suddenly large lead had the McFadden campaign dismissing the results.

"Last night’s KSTP/SurveyUSA poll on the Minnesota Senate race will undoubtedly be the talk of the state’s political scene over the next few days, and for good reason – it conflicts with the other polls conducted over the same time period," McFadden campaign manager Carl Kuhl said in an email. "This memo will not argue that Mike McFadden is tied or within the margins of Senator Franken. We know we are trailing, but with the exception of SurveyUSA, polls show that McFadden is gaining on Senator Franken."

See the chart, from Real Clear Politics, for the trajectory of the polling results in the U.S. Senate race.

Bill Clinton coming to Minnesota to campaign for Dayton, Franken

Posted by: J. Patrick Coolican Updated: October 2, 2014 - 10:56 AM

Former President Bill Clinton will visit Minneapolis next week for a rally in support of Sen. Al Franken and Gov. Mark Dayton.

Clinton will headline an Oct. 10 grassroots early voting and get-out-the-vote event at Northrop Auditorium on the University of Minnesota campus.

The Minnesota DFL party made the announcement Thursday, a day after Franken and Dayton faced off with their Republican candidates in their first debates. Franken is challenged by Sunfish Lake businessman Mike McFadden, while Dayton is running for re-election against Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson.


When: Doors open at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10

Where: University of Minnesota, Northrop Auditorium, 84 Church St. SE, Minneapolis

Free and open to the public. Tickets: dfl.org/gotvrally. Seating is first-come, first-serve.

Franken, McFadden square off in first of three debates

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: October 1, 2014 - 10:51 AM

DULUTH--U.S. Sen. Al Franken and his Republican challenger Mike McFadden faced off Wednesday morning in the first of three debates that found the incumbent defending his voting record while they clashed over topics ranging from Iron Range mining jobs and the environment to the Affordable Care Act.

After first congratulating Franken and his wife Franni on their upcoming 39th wedding anniversary, McFadden took the first swipe at Franken during the hour-long debate, repeating a key campaign refrain that the freshman Senator is a rubber stamp for President Obama by voting along with him 97 percent of the time—a statistic so frequently evoked by McFadden that Franken made light of it.

“I’m sorry, what was that number? Let me write it down or I’ll forget it.” Franken said to laughs from the audience.

“I believe the biggest single issue in this country is we’ve created a professional class of politician and it’s killing us, and I believe in six years Sen. Franken has become part of that class. McFadden said.

“He’s the most partisan senator in the Democratic party. He’s voted 159 out of 161 votes with the Democratic Party. That makes him the most partisan Senator in Washington, that’s a fact, that’s not my opinion.”

Franken, who was relatively subdued on stage compared to a fiery McFadden, said every vote he made was in the interest of Minnesotans.
 “In an era where there’s been a lot of gridlock, I’ve worked across party lines to find common sense solutions,” he said, ticking off GOP Senators, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Pat Roberts of Kansas, with who he’s co-sponsored bills.

“You can slice and dice these numbers any way you want to come up with things that say pretty ridiculous things, but I work for Minnesota and I’ve been proud to do that,” he said, adding that a study cited by McFadden also lists Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who led last year’s government shutdown, as the most bipartisan in the Senate.

“On opposite ends of the spectrum, Al Franken is the Ted Cruz of the Democratic party,” McFadden retorted.

McFadden accused Franken of holding up energy projects like the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in the midst of overloaded and backlogged railways across Minnesota and the nation.

“There’s not been one pipeline built, you haven’t built any pipeline, the Keystone pipeline has been under the review process for six years. That is crazy." McFadden said. "That’s too long…until you start passing pipelines, we’re going to have a rail car shortage.”

Franken acknowledged that he voted “to not circumvent the regulatory process” but that he also voted that if Keystone is built, it would be done so with American steel, seizing on comments made by McFadden earlier this summer that he would opt for building the pipeline with Chinese steel if it were cheaper.

“Those are Minnesota jobs. I fight for Minnesota jobs. Maybe that’s the difference between me and Mr. McFadden. Maybe he sees profits over people.”

Asked by moderators about the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mining project, Franken acknowledged the region needed the jobs, but said that nine years of permits and studies before the project is approved are necessary for sustainable mining and avoiding damage to the environment.

“I can imagine how it can be frustrating especially for the people who want those jobs, but the only thing worse than taking a long time to get this right is getting it wrong. “Franken said.

McFadden called the project a prime example of government overreach, and accused Franken being “Washington-tized” for believing nine years of study is reasonable.

“The fact that this has taken nine years and over $200 million in regulatory review is not acceptable." he said.

McFadden criticized the Affordable Care Act as the largest domestic policy failure of a generation; a piece of legislation that wasn’t properly vetted. Franken defended it as a successful system that has helped countless citizens, including a constituent’s daughter with cystic fibrosis who he said is alive today because of the policy.

“Understand this,” Franken said. “If they repeal this, it goes back to square one. It goes back to a divided congress and all of this goes away.”

In closing statements, both candidates evoked their families—McFadden his six children, and Franken his year-old grandson—as reasons for wanting to do better for the nation.

Despite their differences, the candidates remained cordial throughout the debate, warmly shaking hands at the conclusion before heading off opposite ends of the stage to greet backers, who were divided evenly among the audience of about 100. Franken’s wife, Franni, approached the stage and chatted with McFadden afterward. The candidates’ next debate is at 10 a.m. Oct. 26 on WCCO TV.

Minnesota delegation asks for meeting with VA secretary

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: September 30, 2014 - 10:12 AM

WASHINGTON -- Minnesota's ten members of Congress on Tuesday collectively asked for a meeting with VA Secretary Robert McDonald to talk about recent reports of falsified records at Minneapolis's VA hospital.

The request comes after VA records showed a neurology exam for 25-year-old Jordan Buisman was rescheduled four days after his death. The former corporal had been told he'd have to wait almost 70 days to see a specialist at the Minneapolis VA neurology clinic for his epilepsy, which was the reason he left the Marine Corps. He died 24 days before his appointment.

Four days later, someone wrote in his VA records that Buisman had canceled his neurology appointment. The story was first reported by KARE TV.

The VA Inspector General's office is currently investigating allegations of falsified records and manipulation with scheduling data. The delegation, Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and Reps. Tim Walz, John Kline, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Erik Paulsen, Collin Peterson, Rick Nolan and Michele Bachmann, requested a meeting with Secretary McDonald once the findings are released by the IG.

"We are deeply troubled by serious allegations of falsified records and manipulation of scheduling data at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs VA Health Care System," the delegation wrote.

VA Secretary McDonald, who was just sworn in a couple months ago, said over the weekend in a speech in Cincinnati that, "we know we have to work harder to earn that trust back one veteran at a time."

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/health-fitness/article2271423.html#storylink=cpy

McFadden: Repeal Affordable Care Act in favor of state-based exchanges

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: September 26, 2014 - 3:48 PM

U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden on Friday laid out a proposal to do away with the Affordable Care Act in favor of optional state exchanges with the opportunity to buy insurance across borders.

The proposal is part of a six-page detailed outline by McFadden, a Republican businessman who is challenging U.S. Sen. Al Franken. McFadden has long advocated for repealing the ACA.

“I fundamentally believe that healthcare should not be done at the federal level, but should be state-based and market-centered,” McFadden told reporters Friday. “I think if it continues to be run and administered at the federal level, it will ultimately look like the (Veterans Administration) and that’s not acceptable and that’s not what Minnesotans want.”

McFadden’s proposed system includes a six-point plan to lower costs by expanding Health Savings Accounts, increasing price transparency for medical procedures, allow the pooling of small businesses to procure the same benefits as larger corporations, allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines, and reforming both healthcare tax laws and the tort system.

McFadden said that individual states should be able to decide whether they want to issue individual mandates to purchase health insurance.

“If Minnesota wants to have a mandate or Massachusetts wants to have a mandate, then that’s their decision.” He said. “When I say that states are laboratories for experiments, I want them to experiment. You run into a fundamental problem with a program that’s this large, and covers 1/6th of the economy.”

McFadden maintained that last week’s pullout of PreferredOne, the chief provider in MNsure, is not the fault of the state’s health care exchange, is proof that large patient pools are not effective.

"I'm here to tell you today these pools under Obamacare are not working." he said. "When PreferredOne, who is the 60 percent low-cost provider, comes in and says 'We can't make money,' that's not MNsure, the exchange's fault. What it is, is that the system can't make money."


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