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

EXCLUSIVE -- President Obama to come to Minnesota for Dem fundraiser in June

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: May 1, 2014 - 12:56 PM

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama will headline a Democratic fundraiser in June at a private Minneapolis home, Democratic officials confirmed Thursday.

Obama will attend a party at the home of Sylvia and Samuel Kaplan on June 26 to raise cash for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Minnesota's Congressional Democrats will be there, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, sources said.

The Kaplans are big Democratic donors involved in state and federal politics. Sam Kaplan is a lawyer and served as ambassador to Morocco from 2009 to 2013 under Obama's first term.

The fundraiser asks for $32,400 per couple for a VIP reception, dinner and a photo opp or $20,000 per couple -- or $10,000 per person -- for just dinner and a photo opp, according to an invite obtained by the Star Tribune.

Obama was last in Minnesota in February, when he unveiled a $300 billion transportation infrastructure plan at Union Depot in St. Paul. The announcement was on the heels of his State of the Union address.

The White House did not confirm Thursday whether Obama will be doing any public events while in the state.

Former Gov. Pawlenty supports a minimum wage hike, Senate vote today

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: April 30, 2014 - 12:56 PM

Allison Sherry and Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

WASHINGTON --  Former GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty said early Wednesday on MSNBC's Morning Joe that Republicans should back a minimum wage increase.

"If you're going to talk the talk about being for the middle class and the working person, if we have a minimum wage, it should be reasonably adjusted from time to time," the former presidential contender said on the morning cable program. "There are some basic things we should be for."

Pawlenty's comments come ahead of a Senate vote later today on a proposal supported by President Obama to boost the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 in three steps, concluding in 2016. The measure is supported by DFL Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, both of whom have made floor speeches in the last two days in support.

Obama will also make remarks on the minimum wage later today. The vote is not likely to be taken up by the GOP-controlled House. Neither GOP Reps. John Kline or Erik Paulsen's office responded to questions on the wage hike Wednesday.

As Democrats were trumpeting Pawlenty's comments, the former governor made clear that his support for a minimum wage increase does not mean he backed the $10.10 an hour plan.

"The proposal being presented by the Senate majority goes too far and too fast,” Pawlenty said in an email to Politico.

Pawlenty, who is now the CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, has a significant history with minimum wage increase proposals.

As governor back in 2005, Pawlenty signed a Minnesota minimum wage hike. That measure lifted the state's wage floor from $5.15 an hour, where it had stagnated since 1997, to $6.15 an hour for large employers.

At the time, the hike had bipartisan support and primarily Republican opposition. Among the Republicans who voted against it -- then state Rep. Paulsen, who is now in the U.S. House.

In subsequent years, Pawlenty vetoed legislators' attempt to raise the state's minimum so it remained at $6.15 an hour, even as the federal minimum went up to $7.25 an hour. Since then, Minnesota has had one of the lowest minimum wages in the country.

But this year, the DFL-controlled Legislature and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton set out to change that.

After considerable debate, they approved a minimum wage increase. Earlier this month, Dayton signed into law an measure to raise the state's minimum to $9.50 an hour by 2016. Future increases would be tied to inflation, meaning the state's lowest wage workers would continue to get paycheck boosts after 2016 except in times of significant economic downturns.

On the Senate floor Wednesday, Franken said the oft-repeated argument among Republicans that the minimum wage doesn't help businesses isn't true.

"People who earn minimum wage spend the money they're earning," he said. "Workers who are better paid are better workers and are less likely to quit ... It helps business."

Updated

DFL chooses Mike Obermueller to again challenge Rep. John Kline

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 28, 2014 - 3:51 PM

A former Eagan state representative and Minneapolis lawyer beat out two others and won the DFL party nomination to again challenge GOP Rep. John Kline this November.

Mike Obermueller won the endorsement on the first ballot round, said Sue Moravec, DFL Chair in the 2nd Congressional District.

"Mike was always very organized, very communicative and objective and he worked hard for this endorsement and he committed to continuting to work hard," she said. "I'm impressed by his willingness to work so hard and the delegates saw that."

Obermueller faces a formidable race in running against Kline, who raised $270,000 during the first quarter and reports having $1.66 million cash on hand.

Obermueller also ran against Kline two years ago and lost by almost eight points. In 2012, the climate was much more favorable to Dems. The Rothenberg Political Report has moved Kline into "safe Republican" territory for this year.

Moravec remains hopeful because she says Kline's politics do not reflect the 2nd Congressional District.

"He has an abysmal record when the issues are middle class isssues, women's issues," she said. "I think he's far too conservative for the district. He doesn't represent mainstream people."

Kline's campaign responded Monday:

“Minnesotans want results instead of petty, partisan attacks and they recognize that whether its ensuring our Minnesota National Guard receive the overdue bonus pay they earned or championing a bipartisan compromise with the president to prevent student loan rates from doubling, Congressman Kline is fighting for them,” said Troy Young, Kline's campaign spokesman, in an e-mailed statement.

Obermueller beat out former South St. Paul Mayor Kathleen Gaylord and Northfield City Council member Patrick Ganey.

Domestic violence gun measure set for Wednesday House vote

Posted by: Baird Helgeson Updated: April 28, 2014 - 11:17 AM

Minnesota legislators continued work over the weekend on a measure to prevent those convicted of domestic abuse or stalking from possessing firearms.

House leaders pushed the vote back to Wednesday, giving the measure’s sponsors an extra two days to finish a small technical change.

Critics of the proposal are working to ensure that there is ample due process for anyone who risks losing their firearm due to a restraining order. The measure also prohibits anyone with a restraining order from having a firearm while the order is in effect.

State Rep. Tony Cornish, the Legislature’s most outspoken critic of firearm restrictions, defended his work on the measure over the weekend in a letter to constituents.

“The bill was terrible when it was introduced,” he wrote.

Cornish, R-Vernon Center, said he felt the risks were too high to try to block it, potentially having to make the argument that convicted domestic abusers and stalkers deserved access to firearms.

“If we would have just said no and not worked on it, there was a very good chance of it passing in its terrible form,” he wrote.

He said there are now protections to ensure firearms are not taken away in the event of a restraining order until the case is heard by a judge.

“This is a bill that speaks of defending spouses from being assaulted or killed by another spouse,” he wrote. “It carried a different theme with it and a much harder one to define a reason to vote against.”

The measure now allows Minnesotans who must turn over their firearms to give them to a friend or relative, not just law enforcement. The friend or relative storing the firearms must sign an affidavit guaranteeing the weapons are not returned until the order is lifted.

Rob Doar, a lobbyist with the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, said his group does not believe the measure is necessary.

He has been working with Cornish and the bill sponsors to ensure those who risk losing their firearms have ample due process.

Advocates trying to prevent domestic abuse say this measure will put Minnesota at the forefront of the effort to prevent convicted abusers and stalkers from having access to firearms.

"This legislation is crucial to the safety of Minnesota women and families, and Minnesota moms are encouraged that both Republicans and Democrats are getting behind it,” said Rebecca Lowen, the head of the Minnesota branch of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We're working to make both sides of the aisle see that keeping guns away from domestic abusers isn't a partisan issue -- it's a safety issue.”

Sen. Al Franken pushes nutrition for kids and seniors

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 18, 2014 - 12:33 PM

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Al Franken is making stops to the young and the old Friday in his push for the poor to have the right to nutritious food and college affordability.

Franken, who recently introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to ensure students have access to school lunches, is taking U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to the St. Paul Public Schools Nutrition Center, which prepares school meals for St. Paul schools using local products.

He then heads to Minneapolis, where he will help deliver a meal via Meals on Wheels to two seniors.

Then he'll move again to the University of Minnesota, where he will talk with college students about tuition affordability, including the price of textbooks. He has pending legislation to rein in the rising cost of textbooks -- legislation that has been endorsed by the Association of Big Ten Students, according to his office.

Franken is up for re-election this November.

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