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, Baird Helgeson, Patricia Lopez, Jim Ragsdale, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry, Corey Mitchell and Jim Spencer.

Posts about National campaigns

Mike McFadden's campaign pushes 'Mike is not Mitt Romney' message

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: May 7, 2014 - 5:24 PM

WASHINGTON -- The Senate campaign of Minnesota businessman Mike McFadden is in town pushing a message: Investment banking is not the same as private equity.

Or, in political terms: McFadden is not the failed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Armed with a D.C. based public relations and political consultant, McFadden's campaign manager Brad Herold sat down with reporters Tuesday to explain his boss's 20-year career as an investment banker.

McFadden first started Goldsmith Agio Helms, where he was a partner, and then was a co-CEO of Lazard Middle Market, once Goldsmith was acquired. McFadden took a leave of absence last year to run against incumbent Democrat Sen. Al Franken.

McFadden's handlers said Wednesday that investment banking differs from private equity in that there is scant operational control beyond simply helping others buy and sell companies. A struggling company will hire an investment banker, for example, to find a buyer and once a suitable buyer is found, the investment banker is usually done with the deal, campaign officials said.

Whatever happens next is now in the new buyer's -- not the investment banker's -- control, campaign officials say.

Even if a company is chopped up and sold off or moved to Mexico. Over his two decades in investment banking, McFadden's hands were in roughly 100 $10 to $150 million deals, his campaign said. In some of those deals, other media have reported the sold-off companies shed jobs, closed plants or sent off jobs south of the border.

McFadden's campaign said Wednesday, an investment banker wouldn't necessarily know the outcome beyond the first transaction.

"We had this briefing to highlight ... what Mike's company actually did and how that's different from other types of finance businesses," Herold said. "We had it so that when the false attacks start flying from the Democrats and Al Franken, that people will be able to know the truth." 

Franken's campaign spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff issued a statement: 

"This election is going to be a choice between two candidates, and if Mike McFadden survives the Republican primary, Minnesotans are going to learn about his entire record -- both on the issues and as an investment banker."

McFadden couldn't make it to the briefing, Herold said, because the state GOP convention is 23 days away and he's running around the state meeting as many delegates as possible.

"There aren't delegates here," Herold said, from the offices of the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Capitol Hill. 

McFadden is running against a couple of other people, but the other leading contender is state Sen. Julianne Ortman. Both are vying for delegates' endorsement the weekend of May 30 at the state GOP convention in Rochester.

Interactive: Meet your 2014 Minnesota congressional candidates

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: May 7, 2014 - 11:54 AM

Minnesota’s Democrats and Republicans have selected their candidates to do congressional battle this year.

Over the last several months, activists have gathered in small meetings across the state to pick their favorites. Now their slates are complete. 

In most districts, those picks are expected to have clear sailing to the general election. In at least one, the party-endorsed candidate will still face a primary.

In the map below, find out about this year's congressional combatants.

Graphic: Jamie Hutt, Star Tribune

Star Tribune staff reporter Allison Sherry contributed to this post.

House speaker: 'Very difficult' to pass new disclosure law

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: May 7, 2014 - 8:39 AM

The Minnesota House appears unlikely to approve a measure to bring now secret political spending into the sunshine this year, House Speaker Paul Thissen said on Tuesday.

"I think it would be very difficult to pass that bill this year because of opposition from certain interest groups," said Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis.

The measure, which had the strong backing of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, would require groups that spend money on Minnesota politics to reveal their spending and donors, no matter what type of group they are.

Such undisclosed spending has grown in the state but, because much of it comes from political nonprofits and the ads avoid certain words that trigger disclosure, it currently need not be reported to the state's campaign finance agency. The measure is one of several designed to reveal more information about the influence over and conflicts of the state's politicians.

Chief sponsor of the disclosure measure, DFL Rep. Ryan Winkler said without the new law there are big loopholes "that these groups can drive truckloads of cash through."

But some -- particularly the influential National Rifle Association and Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life -- believed the law would have wrecked havoc on the work they do to inform voters.

“These fatally flawed bills pose a grave risk to freedom of speech in Minnesota and impose excessive regulatory burdens on political and commercial interests,” the NRA told supporters in March.

Thissen started this year saying that he thought the House was ready to pass the disclosure bill and has said he personally supports it. But on Monday, he halted debate on the issue when Winkler brought the measure up on the floor, which speakers rarely do to members of their own party, and Tuesday he said he not gotten enough DFLers on board to pass the bill yet this year.

"We trying to get to that point, but we haven't been able to convince all of our members," Thissen said on Tuesday.

Winkler, of Golden Valley, said he will continue to push the measure next year, if he wins his seat again.

Sen. Al Franken goes up with first statewide ad

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: May 6, 2014 - 10:09 AM

By Allison Sherry

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Al Franken went up with his first ad today highlighting the senator's work in expanding job training programs.

The campaign declined to give the size of the ad buy or how long the 30-second spot was running, but noted the spot was running statewide.

Federal Communications Commission filings show Franken's campaign has spent at least $40,000 to run the ad on KMSP and KSTP, but the files were not immediately available on KARE or WCCO, the state's largest television station. If the campaign bought equal airtime on all four stations, it would cost about $146,000, according to documents. 

One of Franken's leading GOP opponents, businessman Mike McFadden launched a small cable television ad last month with a hockey theme. The campaign spent less than $10,000 to run the ad, it said. This week, McFadden released another ad in which he brags that he is cheap that he took his son's stitches himself after he learned it would cost $100 to have it done by a nurse. None of the broadcast stations have files showing that McFadden's campaign has bought air time.

The Franken ad features Elizabeth Abraham, owner of Blaine's Top Tool, who said she had troubling filling jobs with workers.

Inspired by Abraham's plight, Franken crafted legislation that invests in partnerships between manufacturing companies and community colleges to train workers to fill high-skilled jobs.

Contributions from Rachel E. Stassen-Berger


U.S. Senate candidate McFadden plans to visit Tea Party group that blasted him

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: May 1, 2014 - 5:57 PM

Minnesota's Tea Party leaders have called Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden a phony, a fraud ,suggested he is frightening and should go away.

Now McFadden, who is vying to oust Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken, is planning to appear before them for a chat.

"Mike McFadden is coming to the stage of the North Metro Tea Party. This has been a long time coming but on Thursday, May 8th he has made the commitment to me to be the keynote speaker and (answer) any questions you may have for him," North Metro Tea Party leader Jack Rogers posted on Facebook.

Rogers said that if McFadden answers the questions simply and honestly it will have a strong impact on the gathered attendees.

Tom Erickson, McFadden spokesman, says McFadden is looking forward to the event.

"No one is working harder than Mike to earn the GOP nomination and Mike looks forward to sharing his vision of a limited but effective government with this groups’s members and explaining why he’s the best candidate to beat Al Franken in November," Erickson said.

McFadden is vying against a handful of other Republicans for the chance to take on Franken in the fall.

Republican Senate candidate Julianne Ortman has had a warmer reception from Minnesota and national Tea Party activists.

On Thursday, she tweeted:



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