WASHINGTON - The campaign arm of U.S. House Republicans will announce Tuesday that first-term U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack has joined the party's "Patriot Program" for incumbents facing tough re-elections.
The program, sponsored by the National Republican Congressional Committee, gives extra fundraising and campaign resources to members in highly competitive districts. Later this year, program members will have a special fundraiser of their own and will share the proceeds from the event. Membership in the Patriot Program is also seen as the party's seal of approval for Republican donors who might not otherwise be inclined to donate to the member.
The most recent quarterly fundraising figures released last week suggest that Cravaack is likely to face a tough campaign this fall. One of his three DFL challengers, Tarryl Clark, raised $320,000 compared to Cravaack's $246,000. Former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan raised nearly $77,000 and Jeff Anderson brought in $38,000.
What's most surprising about the announcement is that it comes in April of 2012 and not last year. Most political observers in Minnesota and Washington, DC have expected Cravaack to face a tough re-election challenge in the traditionally Democratic-leaning 8th District ever since he unseated longtime DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar in 2010.
Cravaack broke with the House GOP leadership last summer and voted against the agreement to raise the nation's debt ceiling. At the time, Cravaack sent out a fundraising email to supporters telling them he was "on my own" after defying "the Republican establishment."
Democrats have a similar program, called Frontline Democrats. 1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz belongs to that program.
Welcome to the Daily Digest, where the Vikings stadium gets another chance, Social Security is drying up faster than initially thought, and Rubio campaigns with Romney.
The House Ways and Means committee has grafted a dead stadium bill from last week to a new plan to legalize electronic pull tabs and bingo, giving the Vikings stadium plan new life at the Legislature.
The Minnesota Republican Party has been served eviction papers for its St. Paul office.
State Republicans have asked the St. Cloud State College Republicans not to host Bradlee Dean, the Star Tribune reports.
Minnesota will give the federal government about $15 million in Medicaid money donated to the state by an HMO last year.
The accountability of Minnesota's Medicaid program is latest dustup in long fight between states and the federal government over the program's funding.
The Minnesota Senate agreed to raise fees for hunting and fishing licenses.
The Senate rejected a bill today that would have created an earlier primary date in Minnesota.
The University of Minnesota will be allowed to sell alcohol at its football stadium.
The Obama administration has increasingly been looking for ways to act without Congress, writes the New York Times.
Social Security is drying up faster than expected, according to the Washington Post.
The Justice Department is conducting an investigation of allegations of bribery at Wal-Mart in Mexico.
Common Cause has filed a whistleblower complaint with the Internal Revenue Service challenging the American Legislative Exchange Council's tax-exempt status.
Money and Politics
Conservative groups are spending big on Senate races, according to the New York Times.
Rep. Chip Cravaack has been added to the NRCC's Patriot List.
On the Presidential Campaign Trail
Mitt Romney said that a low student loan interest rate should be extended.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio campaigned with Romney on Monday, stoking buzz about Rubio's veep cred.
Rubio is scheduled to make a foreign policy speech Wednesday.(1 Comments)
Republican lawmakers are raising concerns about the slow pace of contract negotiations with state workers, and the potential cost of the delay.
Talks between the Dayton administration and the unions representing public employees began last spring but have not yet produced an agreement. They are now in mediation. Meanwhile, the terms of the old contracts continue. Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, said the delay puts taxpayers at a disadvantage.
"We have these contracts continuing on auto pilot," Drazkowski said. "On auto pilot, progression increases in steps and lanes and addition employer, i.e. taxpayer contributions to health insurance that are un-negotiated, that amount over the biennium to about $140 million."
Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, said he's convinced that both sides are "dragging their feet" to see if a more supportive DFL legislature is elected in November.
Richard Kolodziejski, public affairs director for the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, said Parry is wrong.
"There has never been an intent for us to push this out this long," Kolodziejski said. "We would prefer to have a contract that both our employees that we represent can approve, and that the Legislature can approve."
Kolodziejski said he thinks Republicans are trying to impose themselves into the current negotiations and dictate the results.
Gov. Mark Dayton said negotiators are still trying to resolve some significant differences. He said he wants a contract that gives taxpayers the best value.
Efforts to create an earlier primary in the state Legislature have fizzled tonight after a joint House/Senate conference committee stripped the measure from a broader elections bill.
The bill would have changed the state's political primary from August until June. The six member conference committee stripped the language from the bill after the Senate firmly rejected the plan earlier this week.
It means efforts to schedule an earlier primary are all but done for the year. Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, says he'll continue to push for an earlier primary.
"I will be an advocate for this issue," Daudt said. "If we don't get it through yet this session and at this point it may not be likely, we'll certainly take it up next session."
Supporters of the June primary say it would have increased voter turnout but critics complain that it would lengthen the campaign season. And since the legislative session runs until late May, critics add some state legislators would have less time to campaign. The primary language was a part of a larger elections bill.
The Vikings stadium bill has consumed the action at the State Capitol.
There's little action on a bonding bill.
There's little action on a tax bill.
On Tuesday, the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Committee approved the bill.
It's safe to say the stadium bill has sucked most of the oxygen out of the building.
Bring in the oxygen tanks because as the Star Tribune reports, some members believe it has taken on an air of inevitability.
The measure will be ready for floor votes in both chambers if it's approved in the Senate Finance Committee and no one has a solid vote count on whether the legislation will pass.
That means the vote could hinge on behind the scenes horse-trading and strong arming to pass.
The Star Tribune's Lori Sturdevant interviewed several CEOs on the importance of the team.
Tick Tick Tick....
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis City Council voted for the stadium plan.
One important note: the issue will likely have to be resolved in a conference committee.
Under the Dome
GOP Sen. Dave Thompson criticized the Republican Party in an interview with Fox 9.
A state investigation by Attorney General Lori Swanson says a debt collector illegally used patient data.
The state of Minnesota is offering same-sex domestic partner benefits in contract talks.
A bill that would limit state worker pay and benefit increases advances in the Minnesota House.
The House and Senate passed a bill that would restore cuts to Human Services programs.
Gov. Dayton vetoed a bill that would have required the state to use E-verify.
Efforts to move the state's primary from August until June fizzled.
The Senate rejected efforts to deny taxpayer money to "Pray the gay away" therapists.
The Senate also sent a fireworks bill to the governor.
The House has voted to name Lester as the state soil.
MN Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann are scheduled to testify today at a hearing in Washington on government oversight of Medicaid programs.
The Senate seeks to slow the closing of rural post offices.
President Obama says the secret service shouldn't be blamed for the actions of a "couple of knuckleheads."
GOP Rep. John Kline is fighting President Obama's bid to put a lid on student loan interest. The move also puts Kline at odds with Mitt Romney, the presumptive presidential nominee of his party (See below).
The Supreme Court will hear Arizona's appeal over the state's immigration law.
Wal-Mart took part in a lobbying campaign to amend an anti-bribery law.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar urged the passage of legislation that cracks down on domestic violence.
Race for Congress
The Rochester Post-Bulletin says Republicans in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District are debating whether to call back delegates to take another shot at endorsing a candidate to challenge DFL Rep. Tim Walz.
Democrat Jim Graves says he can defeat GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Race for U.S. Senate
Politico is reporting that a fundraiser for DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar attracted plenty of K Street lobbyists.
GOP state Rep. Kurt Bills said in a campaign update that he'll be announcing several more legislative endorsements this week.
Race for President
Mitt Romney swept five states on Tuesday.
The move means Romney effectively accepted the GOP nomination.
Romney says he's ready to lead the nation.
MPR says Ron Paul supporters will dominate Minnesota's RNC delegation.
President Obama's political adviser says they're not taking Minnesota for granted.
Mr. Obama told students that he and Mrs. Obama "got poor together" when they got married.
He and Romney both focused on student debt.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison said Romney was "playing politics" with student loans.
Obama made his student debt pitch to colleges in North Carolina and Colorado.
Newt Gingrich says he'll "realistically" look at his campaign.