Former President Bill Clinton is used to being the center of political attention, and his visit to Minneapolis on Friday to campaign for Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken is likely to dominate Minnesota election news for the day.
The gregarious and usually quotable Clinton is perhaps the most sought-after campaigner for Democrats nationwide. He'll stump for Franken and Dayton at an early afternoon get-out-the-vote rally at Northrop Auditorium on the University of Minnesota campus.
Dayton's Republican challenger, is taking a day off the campaign trail Friday in order to raise campaign funds. Johnson is planning to leverage some national political firepower of his own next week, with an event planned for Monday with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The Johnson campaign has not yet released details of Christie's visit.
Updated with Dayton campaign response.
The morning after a lively gubernatorial debate in Moorhead, Republican candidate Jeff Johnson has released a new TV ad aimed at Gov. Mark Dayton's record.
Titled "Unaware," Johnson's second ad hits Dayton with allegations of incompetence. It cites several high-profile projects on Dayton's watch in which the governor distanced himself from controversial aspects: bonuses for MNsure executives, and several aspects of the Vikings stadium project, including high seat license fees and a civil lawsuit against team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf.
"I'll be a 24/7 leader who owns his decisions. The buck stops with me," Johnson says in the ad.
The ad also features a clip of Dayton standing with President Obama, who according to recent polls is increasingly unpopular in Minnesota.
"It's not surprising to see a desperate attack from a candidate so far behind," Dayton campaign spokesman Linden Zakula said. "Commissioner Johnson offers no real ideas to improve education, create jobs, or help Minnesota families. It's easy for Commissioner Johnson to be against everything when he, himself, proposes nothing."
Johnson's campaign said it is spending $400,000 to air the ad on broadcast television statewide. Dayton's campaign has aired two television ads, both mainly focused on the governor's record in office.
On Wednesday, several Dayton campaign officials sent out fundraising missives warning supporters they might have to cut the size of their TV ad buy if the pace of fundraising doesn't pick up.
On Thursday Dayton is speaking at a forum sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota that's closed to the press. In the afternoon, the governor is convening a group of Cabinet members and airport officials to discuss Minnesota's Ebola prevention and preparation efforts.
Johnson is at a Hennepin County Board budget hearing in the morning, and in the afternoon he is speaking to the Minnesota Telecom Alliance.
Here's Johnson's new ad:
The action in the governor's race shifts to Moorhead on Wednesday, where Gov. Mark Dayton, Republican Jeff Johnson and the Independence Party's Hannah Nicollet will meet for their second debate.
The debate at Hansen Theatre on the Minnesota State University Moorhead campus starts at 7 p.m. and goes 90 minutes. It's being sponsored by the Forum News Service and will be moderated by Don Davis, political reporter for the organization.
Dayton, Johnson and Nicollet met last Wednesday for their first debate in Rochester. Nicollet has been registered extremely low support in most polls of the race, but last week Dayton said he thought she should be invited to participate in every debate.
The Forum News Service belatedly invited Nicollet to Wednesday's debate after learning of a July poll that showed her with 11 percent support, a point above the Forum's threshold for participating.
After Wednesday, there are three more gubernatorial debates scheduled: Oct. 14 in Duluth, and Oct. 19 and Oct. 31 in St. Paul.
AFL-CIO leaders on Tuesday decried what they say is Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson’s opposition to increasing Minnesota’s minimum wage.
Legislation passed last session that increased the minimum wage from $6.15 per hour to $8 for large employers. By 2016 it will reach $9.50. Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, has said he would not repeal the current minimum wage increases, but would not support inflationary increases beyond that, arguing that raising the wage could harm small businesses. It’s a claim history has proven is untrue, said AFL-CIO president Shar Knutson (pictured at podium) said at a news conference.
“When we the minimum wage has increased before, the world didn’t stop and businesses kept on running, and they didn’t lose many people because you have to have a certain workforce,” Knutson said. “You can say that, but that doesn’t mean it’s what’s going to happen.”
Johnson is challenging DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. Dayton’s campaign, along with Unions and other Democratic-leaning groups have long bashed Johnson for his opposition to the minimum wage increase.
The AFL-CIO, a state labor federation made up of more than 1,000 affiliate unions representing more than 300,000 members, is latest to follow suit.
Darcy Landau, a wheelchair agent for Delta passengers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, who serves senior citizens and people with disabilities, said he received his first raise in more than five years in August after the legislation passed.
“Despite Delta’s record profits of over $2.7 billion last year, and the fact that our CEO saw his pay go up over 50 percent to over $14 million per year, workers like me who are subcontracted by Delta still only make $8 per hour,” said Landau (pictured at middle.) “It’s a disgrace that there are hundreds of workers at the airport who make miserable wages with no chance of affordable healthcare with no advancement in sight.”
“Does Mr. Johnson realize the pain he would cause people like me and workers all across the state?” he said. “Too many families are struggling, working two or three jobs and too many people are barely able to survive even though they work for corporations with record profits. Does Mr. Johnson think this is fair? Does he have any clue what it’s like to work for minimum wage?”
In a response, Johnson campaign spokesman Jeff Bakken said the attacks are evidence of union loyalties toward Dayton.
"Mark Dayton's incompetence and paybacks to his union boss campaign contributors are hurting middle-class Minnesotans.” He said in a statement. “Under Dayton, our state is dead last in private sector job growth in the Midwest and 41st worst in the nation. With this record, it's no wonder that the rich special interest groups who own Dayton are on the attack. Jeff Johnson will not cut the minimum wage, and with Jeff leading our state, Minnesota will not be dead last in the Midwest in private sector job growth."
Gov. Mark Dayton and his Republican challenger, Jeff Johnson, will both be in attendance Tuesday night at the annual meeting and dinner of the Minnesota Business Partnership, but only Dayton will speak.
The Business Partnership is comprised of CEOs and senior executives from Minnesota's largest companies. Its annual dinner is a chance for those leaders to join with political and community leaders to talk about the business community's priorities.
A spokesman for the group said that Dayton was invited to speak as the sitting governor, not as a candidate.
The dinner is the only event on Johnson's public schedule for Tuesday. Dayton is also holding a news conference at his office in the morning.
The candidates meet Wednesday night for a debate in Moorhead. On Monday it was confirmed that Independence Party candidate Hannah Nicollet would also be participating. Nicollet has a round of media interviews on Tuesday.