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.

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Dig even deeper into House race data

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: September 8, 2014 - 3:49 PM

By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glenn Howatt

Over the weekend, the Star Tribune launched interactive maps and forecasting graphics that dig into the Minnesota House elections.

Below, you can dig even deeper by looking at some of the underlying data.

The House district voting history accounts for redistricting by analyzing precinct voting results to show how the voters in the new districts voted in past elections.

In the below spreadsheet you can scroll back and forth and up and down to view all the data.

* I = incumbent

As Congress reconvenes, McFadden urges action on terror recruiting

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: September 8, 2014 - 3:15 PM

On the day Congress reconvenes, U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden’s campaign has reprised its criticism of inaction in Washington, particularly his Democratic oppnent Al Franken.

McFadden’s latest charge comes on the wake of a Star Tribune report that proceedings are underway to determine who is behind efforts to convince Minnesotans to fight in the Middle East. Federal authorities say upward of a dozen Somali men and three women from Minnesota have fled the country to fight alongside or aid extremists in the Middle East.  The Republican investment banker hopes to unseat Franken.l

Last week, following the second beheading of an American journalist by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Franken called the Obama Administration’s lack of a strategy to take on ISIS “troubling” and asked Attorney General Eric Holder to focus Department of Justice resources on recruiting at home. McFadden said the efforts were too little, too late.

“As Senator, Al Franken has prioritized issues such as ‘net neutrality’ rather than concerns that extremists groups are recruiting from out of our own back yard. Our leaders need to have their priorities straight,” McFadden said in a statement. “This recruitment has been occurring for years, yet Sen. Franken has kept his head down and has only recently begun to address the situation.”

On the day Congress returns to session from its summer break, McFadden urged a bipartisan effort “to combat attempts by terror-related organizations to recruit young Americans to fight against freedom.”
In a statement, Franken spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff deflected McFadden’s criticism, saying Franken has spent years focusing on battling terrorism at home and abroad.

"We're delighted with Mr. McFadden's newfound concern with terrorism. We note that last year, he was the only candidate who hid from the press rather than state his position on Syria, and just a few months ago, actually fled from a voter who asked him his position on the PATRIOT Act.” She said. “Senator Franken has been working on these issues since his first FBI briefing on terrorist recruitment in our communities soon after joining the Senate in 2009."
 

Franken, Klobuchar join push to restrict campaign spending

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: September 9, 2014 - 4:06 AM

Democrats, including Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, started their campaign-season push Monday for a constitutional amendment aimed at curbing special interests' financial clout in elections, an effort the party hopes will appeal to voters come Election Day.

The amendment would allow Congress and states to limit the money raised and spent in election campaigns, curbs that have been weakened by Supreme Court decisions in recent years.

Though it passed a procedural hurdle in the Senate on Monday, the measure has little of chance of passing the upper chamber, and leaders in the Republican-controlled U.S. House have no plans to vote on it.

Democrats around the country have spent months criticizing the billionaire Koch brothers, who have contributed large sums to conservative groups that are spending millions to try defeating Democratic senators.

Many lawmakers have also used the threat of the duo’s donations as a tool to raise campaign cash: at least two Franken fundraising emails in the past week have mentioned the Koch brothers.

Franken and Klobuchar joined a press conference Monday on Capitol Hill where Democrats touted the amendment.

Republicans say limiting campaign spending by outside groups would violate free speech and have accused Democrats of pushing the measure to score political points.

Outside groups have spent $189 million on congressional campaigns since January 2013, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors political spending. That's more than triple the $57 million spent to this point in the 2010 campaign — which, like this year, featured only congressional races and not a presidential contest.

The proposed amendment authored by Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, and co-sponsored by Franken and Klobuchar, would let lawmakers roll back a 1967 Supreme Court decision which found that limiting campaign spending by outside groups would violate their free speech.

The legislation would also let Congress address the 2010 Citizens United case, which allowed unfettered independent spending by corporations and unions, and last April's ruling that lets individuals contribute to as many candidates as they'd like.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Dayton, Johnson campaigns agree to five debates total

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: September 8, 2014 - 2:39 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican challenger Jeff Johnson have settled on five gubernatorial debates in the month of October, after a tussle that saw Johnson suggest 13 debates but ultimately agree to one fewer than what Dayton offered. 

The first debate between the two is scheduled for Oct. 1 in Rochester . The last will be Oct. 31 on the public television program "Almanac." In between, the two will meet three more times -- in Moorhead on Oct. 8, in Duluth on Oct. 14 and St. Paul on Oct. 19. 

In August, the Johnson campaign proposed 13 debates. The Dayton campaign identified six that the governor would attend -- those five listed above and a final, Nov. 2 debate in St. Paul on Minnesota Public Radio. 

Johnson was critical of Dayton for not agreeing to the full schedule. But late last week, the Johnson campaign put out a press release signing off on the five October debates but declining the MPR debate. 

"He wanted to do six debates and he wanted to dictate exactly which ones they were," Johnson campaign spokesman Jeff Bakken said. He said that the Johnson campaign requested, in exchange for the MPR debate, that Dayton agree to a seventh debate in late October on one of two Twin Cities TV stations that were offering to host them. 

Dayton has said he believes six debates would have been plenty for voters to draw distinctions between him and Johnson. 

Here's a full list of the date, location and sponsor of the five debates agreed to by both campaigns:

Wednesday, Oct. 1 -- Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, hosted by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, the Rochester Post-Bulletin and Rochester Chamber of Commerce. 

Wednesday, Oct. 8 -- Moorhead, hosted by Forum News Service and WDAY-TV. 

Tuesday, Oct. 14 -- Duluth, hosted by the Duluth Chamber of Commerce and Duluth News Tribune. 

Sunday, Oct. 19 -- Hamline University in St. Paul, hosted by KMSP/Fox 9. 

Friday, Oct. 31 -- St. Paul, hosted by TPT/Almanac. 

Can you forecast who will control the Minnesota House?

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: September 8, 2014 - 12:09 PM

Photo: screenshot of the interactive House tool

By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glenn Howatt

Over the weekend, the Star Tribune launched an interactive graphic to dive into district-by-district voting trends in House districts and allow readers to make their own election forecast for this year's House election.

You can see and play with that graphic here. You can share your predictions on social media and we will track all the predictions for further reports.

The data online involves not only the current members of the House and the 2014 election but analyzing the election results from past elections. Because of decennial redistricting, this involved analyzing precinct voting results to show how the voters in the new districts voted in past elections.

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