The two candidates running for U.S. Senate in Minnesota ended their campaign with a final debate last night in St. Paul.
DFL Senator Amy Klobuchar and Republican Kurt Bills took part in an hour long debate at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.
They differed over tax policy, spending cuts and climate change.
Bills criticized Klobuchar for failing to tackle fiscal issues like the federal debt and deficit.
"We gave Amy Klobuchar six years to do a job," Bills said. "She said she's appalled at $300 billion deficits. She's added $7.4 trillion in national debt."
Klobuchar countered that she supports a mix of spending cuts and tax increases to tackle the deficit. She said Bills' support of a flat tax would hurt lower and middle income earners.
"A lot of these proposals out there proposed by Congressman Ryan, proposed by the Rand Paul forces that you have been supporting, they do not help the middle class," Klobuchar said. "They are tilted to help the wealthiest."
The two also differed over climate change.
Bills said he disagrees with scientists who say greenhouse gas emissions are causing the the earth to get warmer.
"I believe there are scientists out there who don't believe that we are driving a massive change in our climate," he said.
"I believe in the science of climate change," Klobuchar countered. "Minnesota is a state that believes in science so once you're there, what's your next step?"
Klobuchar has a double digit lead over Bills heading into Election Day.
You can listen to the full debate here: Listen
The Daily Caller reported last week that Klobuchar "helped keep a multibillion-dollar Ponzi schemer out of prison in the late 1990s when she was the County Attorney in Hennepin County, Minnesota." The report also said Klobuchar had enough evidence to prosecute Tom Petters but declined to prosecute.
"Senator Klobuchar did not ask her county attorney staff or law enforcement to refrain from investigating or prosecuting Tom Petters," Klobuchar campaign spokesman Linden Zakula said in a prepared statement. "She was not presented with evidence for prosecution of charges against him."
Zakula released the statement after her Republican opponent, state Rep. Kurt Bills, criticized her for saying "no comment" to the initial story.
The Daily Caller story focuses on Petters, who was convicted of 20 felony counts including money laundering, conspiracy and fraud. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison for setting up a ponzi scheme that defrauded millions of dollars from investors.
In a statement released today, Bills also wanted to know why Klobuchar didn't prosecute Petters in 1999, demanded to know where additional evidence went and why she contributed political contributions from Petters to charity instead of returning the money to the victims of Petters crimes.
"As our Senator, Amy Klobuchar has often called for accountability in others. It is time she provides her constituents with the same," Bills said in a statement.
Zakula said Klobuchar first gave the donations from Petters to a charity but later returned
the additional money to the trustee for the victims after the investigation was concluded.
Klobuchar isn't the only candidate linked to Petters. He gave to the Minnesota Republican Party, the DFL Party, former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar, former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman and GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Many of those politicians and parties gave the contributions to charity or gave the money back to those swindled by Petters.
Update: The Hennepin County Attorney's Office released this statement about the case:
On April 22, 1998, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office filed a charge of Theft by Swindle over $35,000 against Richard Hettler. Later, he also was charged with a felony non-support of a child and defeating security on a personalty.
In January 1999, Hettler pleaded guilty to the theft by swindle and the felony non-support charges and the defeating security on personalty was dropped. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison in February 1999.
At no time was the Hennepin County Attorney's Office presented by any law enforcement agency a case against Tom Petters.
Posted at 10:00 AM on October 18, 2012
by Brett Neely
Filed under: Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate
WASHINGTON - Republican Kurt Bills goes into the final weeks of the U.S. Senate campaign at a huge financial disadvantage compared to incumbent Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
The Bills campaign raised $349,268 in the period between July 26 and Sept. 30 and $454,381 over the entire third quarter. The campaign has $68,262 in the bank for the final stretch of campaigning.
Klobuchar, raised about $800,000 and has $4.8 million on hand. Klobuchar's campaign is airing commercials while Bills has not yet gone on the air.
This latest report actually represents an improved financial situation for Bills. His pre-primary filing showed the campaign holding less than $6,000 in cash. In the second quarter, the Bills campaign raised $243,300.
Bills campaign manager Mike Osskopp issued this statement:
"Our fundraising numbers reflect what we have been saying all along. Our donors are thousands of middle-class Minnesotans who have been crushed by the dismal economy Amy Klobuchar helped create. Amy Klobuchar's crony capitalism gets the support of millionaires and PACs whose bidding she does in the Senate. Is it any surprise that Klobuchar has raised millions from those she uses her power to help in the Senate?"
Posted at 4:50 PM on October 12, 2012
by Brett Neely
Filed under: Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate
WASHINGTON - Amy Klobuchar's Senate re-election campaign raised $800,000 in the three months ending Sept. 30. She enters the final stretch of the fall campaign with more than $4.8 million on hand, likely far exceeding her Republican rival, state Rep. Kurt Bills.
Since her election in 2006, Klobuchar has raised almost $8.6 million.
As Klobuchar's seat is considered safe by many political handicappers, Klobuchar's campaign is not drawing the large sums other U.S. Senate races are. For example, Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in Missouri raised $5.8 million in the most recent quarter.
In addition to campaigning in Minnesota, Klobuchar has been raising money for other Democratic Senate candidates including McCaskill and Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills held a news conference to criticize DFL Sen, Amy Klobuchar for failing to adequately address the federal deficit. During the 30 minute news conference, Bills said Klobuchar should have shown more leadership on solving the budget crisis facing the nation.
Bills also joined a chorus of conservatives who are questioning the legitimacy of the recent job numbers. Bills said it was "suspicious" when asked whether he thought the Bureau of Labor Statistics adjusted the monthly unemployment report to help President Obama's re-election effort.
"What statisticians do is what statisticians do, but I find it very curious that it dropped when it did and it's a .3 percent drop," Bills told reporters.
The report last week showed a sharp drop in unemployment to 7.8 percent.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis called the notion that the numbers were cooked "ludicrous."
Keith Hall, a former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, also dismissed the allegations.
"People shouldn't think at all there is any bias in the numbers," Hall told McClatchy. "This data is collected and examined by each state. . . . Hundreds of people at BLS help collect this data and compile it. If you wanted to try to mess with these numbers, you are talking a very difficult thing. It almost certainly would . . . be next to impossible."
You can listen to Bills' entire news conference here: Listen(6 Comments)
Posted at 3:23 PM on October 8, 2012
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Campaign 2012, Campaign 2012: U.S. House, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD1, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD2, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD3, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD4, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD5, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD6, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD8, Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate
So far this campaign season MPR News has aired debates in the 1st, 4th and 5th Congressional Districts.
Now MPR's The Daily Circuit will host debates in the 2nd, 3rd and 6th Congressional Districts.
In Minnesota's 2nd District, GOP Rep. John Kline and Democrat Mike Obermueller will square off in studio on Monday, Oct. 29.
In Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District, GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen will face Democrat Brian Barnes in studio on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
In Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann and Democrat Jim Graves will debate the issues on Thursday, Nov. 1.
All the debates will be from 11 a.m. to noon.
MPR is also hosting a debate between DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican Kurt Bills on Sunday, Nov. 4 at the Fizgerald Theater in St. Paul at 7 p.m.
Also this week MPR News will air tomorrow's 8th District debate in Duluth between GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack and DFLer Rick Nolan at noon. That's tape-delayed by a couple hours. And Wednesday at noon we will air another 1st District debate recorded Tuesday night in Mankato (and moderated by some guy named Gary Eichten).
And at noon on Oct. 16 MPR News will air an 8th District debate live from Cambridge.
Click here if you're interested in listening to the debate in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District between DFL Rep. Tim Walz and Republican Allen Quist.
Click here if you want to listen to the 5th Congressional District debate between DFL Rep. Keith Ellison and Republican Chris Fields.
Click here if you want to listen to 4th District candidates DFL Rep. Betty McCollum, Republican Tony Hernandez and Independence Party candidate Steve Carlson debate the issues.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills says auto dealer Paul Walser's endorsement of Amy Klobuchar in a campaign ad shows the Democratic U.S. senator is a "crony capitalist." Klobuchar's campaign released an ad this week that featured Walser, a Republican, thanking Klobuchar for her work to save his dealership when General Motors underwent restructuring.
"I don't know why you do an ad like that," Bills said. "It's showing you're a crony capitalist. You're going to side with the people who can fill your campaign coffers up."
Bills said there "won't be a lot of rich elites running" to him to donate money because he opposed the auto bailout and TARP for banks.
Over the past few weeks, Bills and his campaign have been suggesting that Klobuchar is a part of a Washington D.C. establishment that favors big business over the average American.
He also suggested that Walser, who typically donates to Republican candidates, ran the ad because Klobuchar is backing him.
Walser told the Star Tribune that it's preposterous to suggest the ad was payback.
Klobuchar's campaign took issue with Bills' suggestion.
"Senator Klobuchar is proud of the work she has done to make sure these businesses got a fair shake instead of being shut down without cause," Klobuchar campaign spokesman Linden Zakula wrote in an e-mail.
Zakula also notes that Klobuchar worked to save 28 auto dealerships and that the ad featured Walser and two other car dealers (Fury Dodge Chrysler & Valley Pontiac Buick GMC) that were facing possible closure.
Zakula said the Minnesota Auto Dealers named Klobuchar their "Legislator of the Year" in 2009 for her efforts to save the dealerships.
With less than six weeks to go before the election, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills is pledging to visit Minnesota's 87 counties over the next 36 days.
Bills, who is challenging DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar, says the road trip will start today in Crow Wing and Itasca Counties. Bills' campaign manager, Mike Osskopp, said they're conducting the tour to get their message out.
"Minnesotans are hungering for real discussion of the issues facing our country. Since Klobuchar was elected unemployment has doubled, gas prices have doubled, and the national debt has doubled.Yet the mainstream media elite is not talking about the tough issues facing our country, and hasn't asked Klobuchar to explain how she will address these issues," Osskopp wrote in a statement.
Campaign spokesman David Strom said Bills will stop in twelve counties this week including Hennepin, Wright and Olmsted counties.
Bills is lagging Klobuchar in polls and in fundraising. The campaign's announcement comes one day after Klobuchar's campaign released its first set of TV ads. Bills has not yet bought or ordered airtime.
Bills isn't the first candidate to pledge to visit every county in the state. In fact, Klobuchar announced in 2006 that she would visit every county in the state each year that she's in office. Her campaign spokesman says Klobuchar has met that commitment.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar's first batch of TV ads are focusing on her record during her first six years in the U.S. Senate. Klobuchar's campaign released the ads today that will start running tomorrow.
Klobuchar first ad focuses on her efforts to secure health care for a wounded veteran. The second ad showcases her work to save several car dealerships that were slated to close as a result of the near collapse of General Motors in 2008.
"I remain a Republican today, however, I will always support Sen. Klobuchar," Auto dealership owner Paul Walser said in the ad.
Klobuchar's campaign is obviously targeting independent and Republican voters with her ads. She's well ahead of state Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount in all independent polling.
Klobuchar doesn't mention Bills by name in either ad. It's unlikely that she'll target him unless the polls change dramatically over the next few weeks.
Bills has yet to buy any ad time at any of the Twin Cities TV stations.
Minnesota's sleepy U.S. Senate race is waking up a little bit. DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar is buying some ad time on at least one Twin Cities TV station. WCCO-TV's political file reports that Klobuchar has reserved roughly $80,000 in ads from Oct. 1 through Oct. 8.
The ad buy, which was first reported by The Associated Press, comes as Klobuchar is polling well ahead of Republican Kurt Bills. A spokesman for Klobuchar would only say that it's the first portion of a statewide ad buy and that it's the first ad the campaign is running this election cycle.
Bills' campaign has not formally inquired about purchasing ad time at the four major Twin Cities TV stations. He is at a significant financial disadvantage heading into the November election. Klobuchar reported having more than $5 million in the bank in July. The Bills campaign had roughly $5,000 in the bank.
Bills, however, issued a statement criticizing Klobuchar for campaigning in Iowa on Tuesday for congressional candidate Christie Vilsack.
"Klobuchar is using her office as nothing but a stepping stone to the Presidency. She has avoided the big issues facing our country, avoided scrutiny for her failures, and is now avoiding Minnesotans in favor of Iowans," Bills said in a statement.
As we reported earlier this month, Klobuchar's speaking engagements at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte created some chatter that she was looking at higher office. Klobuchar denied the claim that she was interested in a future White House run. Her spokesman, Linden Zakula re-emphasized that position again today. Zakula also said Klobuchar campaigned in Hastings, Faribault and Austin on Tuesday and is campaigning in Rochester and Red Wing today.
Bills is also touting an endorsement from a conservative group. FreedomWorks PAC announced today that it is backing Bills campaign.
A spokeswoman for FreedomWorks, which is co-chaired by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, didn't immediately provide information as to what the endorsement will mean for Bills in terms of fundraising or independent expenditures.
Update: Russ Walker, executive director with FreedomWorks said the endorsement puts their members on notice that Bills has been vetted by the group. He said they have not committed to spending any money on Bills but suggested it could change in the coming weeks.
"It's a race that we want to pay attention to and see if it changes," Walker said. "If it does and we think it's winnable, we'll start investing in that race."
Posted at 3:29 PM on September 17, 2012
by Tim Pugmire
Filed under: Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills is suggesting that he could support a tax increase as part of a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit.
During an appearance today at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School, Bills said he would be open to a compromise measure similar to the Simpson Bowles Commission recommendations, which included a mix of spending cuts and increased tax revenue. The state representative and high school economic teacher from Rosemount also supports Republican Sen. Rand Paul's budget proposal, which includes cuts in social security and the creation of a new flat tax. But Bills said he wants to find a compromise.
"I will vote for the compromise, no matter what it is," Bills said. "I don't care if I have to have a verbal or physical confrontation with Grover Norquist. I'm going to vote for the compromise, because that's what my students in my high school classes, and the reason why I'm running, would want me to do."
Bills, who's challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, said Congress needs more everyday Americans, like him, who are willing to focus on problem-solving rather than getting re-elected.
On the topic of civil liberties, Bills said the treatment of a filmmaker linked to an anti-Islamic movie that has sparked protests across the Middle East raises concerns.
Federal authorities in Southern California interviewed the filmmaker, who is now in hiding, over the weekend at a Los Angeles sheriff's station. Bills said the action is an example of what he views as the nation's "liberty deficit."
"We had him taken out of his home by federal agents to be questioned," he said. "So, will there not be a first amendment any longer in this contry? I would have to ask that. It really bothers me."
Bills later clarified that his concern is specific to the first amendment questions raised by the incident. He stressed that he does not agree with the content of the controversial film.
Photo: Tim Pugmire
WASHINGTON - Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Kurt Bills is touting a new poll commissioned by his campaign that shows progress closing the wide gap between him and incumbent DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar, although the survey continues to show Klobuchar with a strong lead.
According to the poll of 500 likely voters conducted by Republican pollster Wenzel Strategies on Sept. 6, Bills draws the support of 37.8 percent of voters while 51.6 percent of those surveyed planned to vote for Klobuchar.
An independent poll in June after Bills received the Republican Party's endorsement had Bills drawing just 29 percent support compared to Klobuchar's 55 percent.
In a statement issued by the Bills campaign, campaign manager Mike Osskopp said, "The more voters learn about Kurt Bills, the better he does. We intend to pull ahead by Nov. 6th."
Bills faces daunting financial challenges. His most recent disclosure with the Federal Election Commission showed less than $6,000 in the bank compared to Klobuchar's nearly $5.4 million war chest.(4 Comments)
Posted at 3:43 PM on September 6, 2012
by Mark Zdechlik
Filed under: Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate
U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills announced Thursday he's named former Republican state Rep. Dan Severson his Director of Minority Outreach.
Severson, along with Pete Hegseth, lost the Republican Senate endorsement to Bills earlier this year, but both have since announced their support for his campaign against first-term DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
As Severson campaigned for the endorsement he worked to build support among immigrant and minority voters, people he maintained Republicans have been overlooking.
Bills called Severson a "good friend," and said he was proud to have Severson on his team.
"His dedication to preaching the conservative gospel to new voters comes from the heart, and goes well beyond any one election cycle," said Bills in a written statement.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. --DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar is in Charlotte this week encouraging delegates to the Democratic National Convention to work hard to re-elect President Obama. Klobuchar is scheduled to visit seven state delegations this week to speak on behalf of Obama.
At an Iowa breakfast gathering this morning, Klobuchar said Obama is best suited to lead the country for another four years. She also said Republican Mitt Romney is not prepared to be president.
"Do we really want to put a guy in the White House who on his first trip as a candidate to London, his first trip internationally?," Klobuchar asked the audience. "Before he even puts two feet on the ground, he puts one foot in his mouth and creates an international incident and pisses off our ally at the Olympics? This just doesn't make sense to me. Do you know what we call that in Minnesota? We call it a Mitt-stake."
Some political bloggers say Klobuchar's speeches before delegates from early primary and caucus states indicate she might be interested in a run for president in 2016. During her Iowa speech, she focused on the Farm Bill, talked about her background and joked about Minnesota's proximity to Iowa.
"I can see Iowa from my front porch," she joked.
After the speech, Klobuchar downplayed any political ambitions, saying she likes her current job.
"It's our neighboring state of Iowa," Klobuchar said in an interview. "I think every Minnesotan has a relative in Iowa or a friend in Iowa. So if you'd ask them what states would Amy speak at, I don't think they surprised that Wisconsin and Iowa would be on the list."
Klobuchar is up for re-election in November against Republican Kurt Bills.
Here is Klobuchar's speech to the Iowa delegates: Listen
The Democratic National Convention begins in Charlotte, NC tomorrow but Minnesota's delegates will be without some key figures.
Just three of the six DFL members of Congress are expected to be in Charlotte this week. Rep. Keith Ellison is already in town hobnobbing with delegates and others. He has a full speaking schedule over the course of the week. Ellison, who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says he uses the convention to build relationships.
"I just think as a person who is offering some support and leadership to our party that I can't be missing in action," Ellison said.
Ellison added that his campaign has been working to identify DFL voters to turn out on Election Day. He said going to the convention will help with that grassroots work.
Spokespeople say Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken will be in town for all or part of the convention. Gov. Mark Dayton is also expected to attend. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is scheduled to address the convention on Tuesday.
Democratic Representatives Tim Walz, Collin Peterson and Betty McCollum are not attending the DNC at all.
Walz represents Minnesota's 1st Congressional District and has been targeted by Republicans since he defeated GOP Rep. Gil Gutknecht in 2006. But Sara Severs, the campaign manager for Walz, says Walz isn't avoiding Charlotte for fear of being linked to President Obama.
"Congressman Walz and Gwen Walz do not plan to attend the 2012 convention due to other commitments in Minnesota, most importantly the first day of kindergarten and 6th grade for their two children," Severs wrote in an e-mail. "However, they have been clear about their support for President Obama and wish everyone working on the convention a successful event."
A spokeswoman says McCollum is planning a large "watch party" for President Obama's speech on Thursday night at the Vadnais Heights Commons Convention Center on Thursday.
None of the other DFL candidates for Congress are planning to attend the DNC either.
Democrats aren't the only people who decided to skip the party conventions this year. GOP Representatives John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Chip Cravaack decided not to visit Tampa for last week's Republican National Convention. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills also decided against making the trip to Florida.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann served as a delegate to the convention and also worked the convention crowd.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who failed in his bid to be the party's nominee for president, had a speaking role at the convention.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that Allen Quist, who is challenging Walz in Minnesota's 1st District, attended the RNC.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican Kurt Bills have agreed to participate in a U.S Senate debate on Nov. 4. The debate, hosted by MPR News, will be held at 7pm on the Sunday before election. It's traditionally the last debate before voters head to the polls on Election Day. The debate will be hosted by MPR's Morning Edition Host Cathy Wurzer.
Klobuchar and Bills will also debate live on MPR News at our State Fair booth on Thursday, Aug. 30. MPR Political Editor Mike Mulcahy will moderate that debate.
Bills and Klobuchar have met in one debate this election cycle. They both participated in the FarmFest debate last week. You can listen to that debate here.
Update: A Klobuchar spokesman said a debate in the Duluth area is also in the works.
Three of the candidates for U.S. Senate appeared at a FarmFest forum today near Redwood Falls. DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar, GOP state Rep. Kurt Bills and Independence Party candidate Glen Menze discussed the Farm Bill, renewable energy and other ag issues. It's the first time Bills and Klobuchar appeared on the same stage together since Bills on the GOP endorsement earlier this summer.
MPR's Mark Steil has a story about the debate here.
You can listen to the full debate here: Listen
(Thanks to MPR's Mark Steil for providing the audio)
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills says he wants DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar to debate 20 times between now and Election Day.
So far Klobuchar has agreed to take part in two candidate forums with Bills: one this week at Farmfest in southwestern Minnesota, the other on MPR News at the State Fair. The Klobuchar campaign says it's considering additional debates in the fall.
Bills says he wants 20, but that he would settle for five or 10. He says if Klobuchar does not agree to what he thinks is a sufficient number of debates, he'll hold forums by himself around the state.
"I'll put two chairs up on the stage, put the date out there, inform her campaign and people can show up. And if she doesn't want to come, it will be an empty chair discussion." Bills said. "I'll sit up there, [and] discuss and then I'll take questions from the audience."
The Klobuchar campaign released a short statement questioning Bills' demand under the circumstances.
"Candidates that call for debates usually do it when there aren't any debates." said spokesman Linden Zakula.
There were five debates in Minnesota's last U.S. Senate race between Republican Norm Coleman, Democrat Al Franken and Dean Barkley from the Independence Party.
WASHINGTON - The Kurt Bills U.S. Senate campaign has been making busy lately playing up comparisons with the late Paul Wellstone's shoestring 1990 U.S. Senate campaign. Like Wellstone, one of Bills' campaign props has been a retired school bus he's taking across the state.
But according to the latest pre-primary filings the Bills campaign has made with the Federal Election Commission, that school bus, along with thousands spent on polling and consultants, has nearly emptied the campaign's already-threadbare coffers.
As of July 25, Bills, a Republican, reported having just $5,841 in the bank. His opponent, DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, has more than 900 times as much cash for her campaign -- nearly $5.4 million.
Bills actually didn't have a terrible 25 days of fundraising in July. His haul was $105,113 compared to Klobuchar's $131,996. But the Bills campaign began July with just $64,681 in the bank and then spent more than $160,000.
According to the records, the campaign spent $35,000 on polling, nearly $8,000 on software to manage the campaign's finances and another $9,950 on fundraising consultants. An Ohio-based political consulting firm called The Strategy Network was paid $12,691. Direct mailings that are usually used to solicit funds cost the campaign another $8,980.
The bus has also consumed a fair share of the campaign's resources. The records list a $3,533 charge to put Bills' campaign logo on the bus. The campaign spent an additional $284.26 at a Tires Plus auto supply store for batteries, $1,268 on drivers and $361 for bus repairs.
When asked for a comment about the campaign's finances, a spokesman referred inquiries to campaign manager Mike Osskopp, who has not yet responded.
The campaign's cash situation might not be quite as dire as the FEC report shows. The filings only cover the period up until July 25. Bills visited Washington, DC that day to attend a fundraiser being held on his behalf by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and his son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). It's not clear if any contributions from that event are listed on this filing.(4 Comments)
Posted at 11:06 AM on August 3, 2012
by Brett Neely
Filed under: Campaign 2012, Campaign 2012: U.S. House, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD1, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD2, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD3, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD4, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD5, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD6, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD7, Campaign 2012: U.S. MN CD8, Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate
WASHINGTON - Although candidates for federal office were required to file campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission just a few weeks ago to cover their 2nd quarter fundraising, they're filing more paperwork now ahead of next month's primary elections. This reporting period covers just the 25 days between the close of the old period on June 30 and July 25.
Here's where things stand:
- Incumbent U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar brought in $131,996 in July, bringing her total fundraising to date to just a shade under $8 million. The Democrat's campaign spent about $215,000 in the same period, eating slightly into her cash but leaving Klobuchar with a still-large war chest of nearly $5.4 million. About $90,000 of Klobuchar's donations came from donors who have more than $200 and from political action committees.
While the FEC deadline for posting campaign finance reports was midnight on Aug. 2, as of noon on Aug. 3, Klobuchar's likely Republican rival state Rep. Kurt Bills had not posted his fundraising figures. In an email, a campaign spokesman said he was looking into the matter.
CD 1 - Rep. Tim Walz, the DFL incumbent in this district, continues to outraise his two GOP opponents. Walz brought in $27,845 compared to $18,800 by Allan Quist and $8,890 by state Sen. Mike Parry. Walz kept his campaign spending to a modest $28,611 in July and his war chest has more $807,000 compared to nearly $118,000 for Quist and nearly $28,000 for Parry. Almost all of Walz's contributions came from donors who gave more than $200 and political action committees.
CD 2 - Incumbent Republican Rep. John Kline brought in $109,780, bringing his total raised this cycle to just over $1.8 million. Of those contributions, more than $96,000 came from donors giving more than $200 and political action committees. Kline's campaign spent more than $91,000 in the 25 days recorded in July and has more than $1.3 million in the bank for the contest this fall.
His DFL challenger, Mike Obermueller, raised $54,505 in July and has thus far brought in $275,000 since entering the race. Obermueller has $227,283 cash on hand and his campaign's operating expenses hit $41,391 during the reporting period. The Obermueller campaign has also taken on $32,500 worth of debt so far. More than $45,000 of Obermueller's contributions campaign from donors giving more than $200 and PACs.
CD 3 - Erik Paulsen, the Republican who represents western suburbs of Minneapolis, is the delegation's biggest fundraiser not named Bachmann. But Paulsen's campaign raised $54,309 in July, a relatively small total for him, bringing his total fundraising this term to more than $2.2 million. Paulsen's campaign spent a little more than $51,000 and his cash on hand is nearly $1.6 million. Almost $43,000 of Paulsen's fundraising came from large donors and PACs.
Paulsen's DFL challenger, Brian Barnes, raised $26,735, bringing his total to date to $217,000. Barnes' campaign spent more than $33,000 in July and has about $50,000 in the bank.
CD 4 - Incumbent DFLer Betty McCollum raised the least of any sitting member from Minnesota, bringing in $12,270 in July for a total to date of $658,123. Still, that's more than double what Republican-endorsed challenger Anthony Hernandez brought in, $5,700. McCollum has $170,199 cash in the bank, compared to $5,370 for Hernandez. McCollum's campaign spent more than $48,000 in July while Hernandez spent $2,506.
CD 5 - Rep. Keith Ellison, the DFL incumbent representing Minneapolis and the inner suburbs, brought in $103,890 in July and has raised more than $1.4 million since January 2011. However, Ellison's campaign spent even more, $111,370, during July, and Ellison ended the reporting period with $126,481 in the bank and no debt. Nearly $69,000 of Ellison's current fundraising came from large donors and PACs.
Republican challenger Chris Fields raised $31,126 bringing his fundraising to date to $113,886. Fields' campaign spent $13,299 and sits on $51,609 in the bank. Large donors contributed $10,600 to his campaign and no PACs gave him money.
CD 6 - Expect to see huge sums spent on this race. Incumbent Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann has a huge fundraising and cash advantage over DFL challenger Jim Graves. Two thirds of her contributions came from small donors who gave less than $200. She raised nearly $1.1 million in 25 days compared to Graves' $64,482. Bachmann also spent big, dropping nearly $700,000 in the same period compared to the $116,000 spent by Graves. Bachmann has more than $2 million in the bank while Graves has about $350,000 on hand but also has $250,000 in debt due to loans he's made his campaign.
CD 7 - Veteran DFL Rep. Collin Peterson pulled in $67,438 in July and has now raised more than $821,000 since his term started in January 2011. His campaign spent almost as much as he raised in July -- $68,057 -- and ends the period with almost exactly $800,000 in the bank. More than $57,000 of Peterson's donations came from large donors and PACs.
Lee Byberg, the Republican who hopes to replace Peterson, raised $25,677. But his campaign's $50,320 worth of spending far outstripped his fundraising and Byberg ends the period with $91,920 in the bank.
CD 8 - This is likely to be Minnesota's most contested race in the fall with Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack defending his seat for the first time after a long DFL lock on the district. Cravaack brought in $59,005 in July, bringing his total fundraising to a hair under $1.5 million. His campaign spent $39,000 and has $916,000 on hand. About $37,000 of Cravaack's fundraising came from large donors and PACs.
Former state Sen. Tarryl Clark, one of three DFLers running in a primary for the chance to compete against Cravaack, was the strongest fundraiser in the district in July. Her campaign raised $65,509 and has raised more than $1.1 million overall. But ahead of the primary, Clark's campaign is spending heavily -- $225,821 -- and she has a little less than $99,000 on hand. Thanks to Democratic grassroots funding networks, Clark raised about two thirds of her fundraising in July from small donors.
Former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who received the DFL endorsement in the 8th District, brought in $27,618 and has raised $357,655 since entering the race. Nolan's campaign spent about $33,000 in July and has a little less than $88,000 on hand. Most of Nolan's funds came from large donors.
Former Duluth City Council President Jeff Anderson lags the other two DFL challengers, bringing in $8,031 in July for a total so far of $172,359. His campaign spent more than twice as much -- $19,285 -- in the same period, and Anderson has just $7,238 in the bank.
Tim Pawlenty's getting good press for his line that President Obama's policies are "all foam and no beer." Politico's Veep Sheet reports that Minnesota's former governor used the line on several occasions in the past couple of days.
"Imagining the unsatisfying scenario of being served a foamy pint of beer, Pawlenty delivered the punch line: 'Barack Obama is all foam and no beer. And you can't live on the foam. His speeches are his foam.'
Pawlenty, however, is not the first Minnesota politician to use the line.
Democrat Amy Klobuchar used the same attack six years ago against Republican Mark Kennedy during an MPR News debate at the State Fair.
"Your proposal, Congressman Kennedy -- it reminds me of when I was at the beer garden and I was hearing some kids talking, 'I got too much foam in my beer,' this college student said, 'Your proposal is all foam and no beer.'" Listen
Pawlenty is rumored to be on Mitt Romney's short-list for vice-presidential candidates. Ironically enough, Kennedy made his case on Monday as to why he thinks Pawlenty should be the pick.(1 Comments)
If Kurt Bills' latest ad seems familiar, that's because it is:
Frame for frame, Bills' web spot mirrors Paul Wellstone's "Fast Paced Paul" ad from his 1990 bid for Senate.
Like Wellstone's spot, Bills' starts off with a familiar line:
"Hi, I'm Kurt Bills. I'm running for the United States Senate here in Minnesota. I don't have millions of dollars in lobbyist and Wall Street money, so I'm going to have to make this quick," Bills says in a shot of him standing in front of a converted school bus he is using to tour the state - another similarity to Wellstone's 1990 campaign.
From there, Bills jumps from shot to shot introducing his family (so did Wellstone), his house (again, Wellstone), and Rosemount High School, where Bills teaches (Wellstone was a teacher, too.)
Though Wellstone narrowly beat incumbent Rudy Boschwitz in 1990, he was long considered an long-shot in the race.
Fast forward to 2012, and Bills is an underdog in his bid to unseat DFL incumbent Sen. Amy Klobuchar, too. According to a recent SurveyUSA/KSTP poll, Bills is trailing Klobuchar by 24 percentage points.
School buses and underdog status aside, Bills and Wellstone share little in common. Before his death in 2002, Wellstone was one of the most liberal lawmakers to have represented Minnesota in the Senate. Bills is running to the right on a platform of lower spending, lower taxes and smaller government.
So far the Bills ad is only on YouTube.
WASHINGTON - In town for a fundraising event with libertarian icons Ron and Rand Paul, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills did what many tourists in Washington, DC do and watched a session of the House of Representatives. His trip coincided with a House vote on legislation sponsored by the elder Paul, a Texas Republican congressman and presidential candidate, to audit the Federal Reserve.
Auditing and closing the Federal Reserve has been a pet issue of Ron Paul's for decades and while on the campaign trail, Bills has also pushed for audits of the Fed. The legislation, likely Paul's last bill to get a vote before he retires at the end of this year, passed 327-98. All four of Minnesota's Republican U.S. House members voted in favor of the bill, as did DFLers Collin Peterson and Tim Walz. DFL Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum voted against the measure.
Bills received the Republican Party's endorsement thanks to the votes of Ron Paul supporters at the party convention in May.
"The Fed controls the supply of money. It owns trillions of dollars of assets, and is now one of the largest holders of U.S. debt. It intervenes in both U.S. and foreign markets, yet we know only what the Chair of the Fed chooses to tell us," said Bills in a statement released by his campaign.
Bills' opponent, DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is unlikely to have to vote on the measure. Senate Democrats say they have no plans to bring the bill up in their chamber.
If you're on Rep. Kurt Bills' mailing list, you've probably received a few e-mails that say U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the Democrat Bills is looking to unseat this fall, collects a lot of money from special interests.
"Amy Klobuchar and the Democrats think that people like you are a 'special interest,'" said one recent fundraising plea. "That's rich, coming from someone who is in the top 5% of special interest donations in Washington DC!"
This election cycle, Klobuchar has been raising a sizeable amount of campaign money from political action committees and lobbyists. But whether she's in the top 5 percent depends a lot on who she's compared to.
Bills campaign manager Mike Osskopp said the talking point came from another Twin Cities-area journalist, but couldn't provide more information to back up the claim or say who Klobuchar was compared to. Osskopp said only that Klobuchar raises a good deal of money from "lawyers, lobbyists and Wall Street firms."
OpenSecrets.org, a website that tracks money in politics, ranks lawmakers on how much they make from political action committees (PACs), lobbyists, and lawyers, among other interests.
When compared to other sitting Senators, Klobuchar is not in the top 5 percent when it comes to money from PACs, lawyers or lobbyists this election cycle. (OpenSecrets doesn't single out "Wall Street firms" in their data, but even when it comes to cash from the finance, insurance and real estate industries, Klobuchar isn't at the top of the list, either.)
That's not to say that Klobuchar isn't among the top fundraisers in the Senate. For instance, she's collected $154,175 so far this election cycle from lobbyists, putting her in the top 15 percent of Senators.
That's because Klobuchar is running for office this year, so she's automatically raising more than her peers. For instance, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid ranked first among Senators collecting money from lobbyists during the 2010 election cycle because he was running for office, while Klobuchar was ranked 40th. Now, Reid ranks 31st as he sits this election cycle out.
And when compared only to incumbent Senators running for office this year, Klobuchar sinks to the bottom of the list of lobbyist contributions.
Things change when Klobuchar is compared to money made from PACs, lobbyists and lawyers by all sitting Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In that case, she is in the top 5 percent.
But most House members, who run for re-election every two years, raise less cash because they represent smaller districts that typically require less advertising and less travel. As a result, it's an unfair apples-to-oranges comparison.
When she's compared to all Senate and House members, it's true that Klobuchar is in the top 5 percent of lawmakers collecting donations from a range of special interests.
But Bills' claim comes with too many caveats. First, his campaign couldn't provide specific sources for its statement. Further, it's unfair to compare Klobuchar's Senate fundraising to that of candidates for the U.S. House; congressional races focus on a smaller area and typically require less advertising than statewide races, so House members don't have to raise nearly as much money as Senators running for re-election.
And though Klobuchar is among the top fundraisers in the Senate this election cycle, it's because she's running for office. If she wins again, expect her fundraising to dwindle significantly for a few years.
As a result, this PoliGraph test leans toward false.
Kurt Bills fundraising letter, "Defeat Special Interests," June 30, 2012
OpenSecrets.org, Top PAC Recipients, All Senators, 2012 cycle, accessed July 23, 2012
OpenSecrets.org, Top PAC Recipients, All U.S. House Members, 2012 cycle, accessed July 23, 2012
OpenSecrets.org, Lobbyists: Money to Congress, All Senators, 2012 cycle, accessed July 23, 2012
OpenSecrets.org, Lobbyists: Money to Congress, All U.S. House Members, 2012 cycle, accessed July 23, 2012
OpenSecrets.org, Lawyers/Law Firms: Top Recipients, All Senators, accessed July 23, 2012
OpenSecrets.org, Lawyers/Law Firms: Top Recipients, All U.S. House Members, accessed July 23, 2012
E-mail exchange, Mike Osskopp, campaign manager, Kurt Bills for Senate, July 10, 2012
Interview, Sarah Bryner, lobbying researchers, OpenSecrets.org, July 11, 2012
The Fraternal Order of Police, a group representing 2,700 police officers in Minnesota, is backing DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar's reelection. The group backed Klobuchar's Republican opponent, Mark Kennedy, in 2006. In a statement, Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police President Gary Cayo said Klobuchar has stood up for Minnesota police.
"In the Senate, she has continued the work she started as a prosecutor, and she is an effective advocate for our members because she understands the challenges they face day in and day out. Senator Klobuchar is tough, fair, and delivers results - that's why she has earned our support," Cayo said.
Klobuchar is being challenged by state Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) are scheduled to headline a fundraiser for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills. The event will be held at David and Jo Thoburn's home in Vienna, VA on July 24. Donors are being asked to give $350.
Jeff Lorsung, Finance Director for Kurt Bills' U.S. Senate campaign, said he hopes the fundraiser will fetch between $25,000 and $30,000 for the campaign. Bills has received the backing of Ron and Rand Paul, support that helped him win the GOP endorsement in June.
"With both having Ron and Rand endorsements, and with Kurt running on a platform to revitalize America, there are quite a lot of folks who support the idea of sending a citizen legislator to Washington," Lorsung said.
Bills is working to boost his fundraising account as he tries to unseat DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar. The latest fundraising report showed Klobuchar with a significant fundraising advantage over Bills. She has $5.5 million in the bank. Bills had $64,681 in the bank.
UPDATE This post has been updated
WASHINGTON - Amy Klobuchar's Senate re-election campaign fund continues to grow. Her campaign announced Friday afternoon that she's raised more than $950,000 ahead of a July 15 Federal Election Commission deadline and has about $5.5 million cash on hand.
Her war chest grew by approximately $300,000 in the last three months, suggesting that her campaign's spending has begun to ramp up.
Klobuchar's Republican opponent, schoolteacher and state Rep. Kurt Bills, has not yet filed his fundraising totals with the FEC. When reached by phone Friday afternoon, Bills' campaign manager Mike Osskopp said, "We raised less," and promised to pass along those figures shortly.
We'll update when he does.
UPDATE Bills' campaign announced raising $243,300 in the second quarter of the year and issued an attack on Klobuchar, calling her "the candidate of lawyers, lobbyists and bailed out Wall Street."
"Amy Klobuchar votes for bailouts and boondoggles. It's no surprise that the beneficiaries want to keep her in office," Osskopp said. The campaign has $64,681 in the bank.
Outside observers consider Klobuchar's to be a safe Democratic seat this campaign and her fundraising is, in some ways, indicative of that. Senate candidates in competitive seats have been raising far more this election cycle. For example, Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill brought in $2.6 million this quarter for her Senate re-election bid while next door in sparsely-populated North Dakota, the candidates for the open Senate seat there are each bringing in as much as Klobuchar has.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills told Morning in America radio host William Bennett this morning that he's polling about 26 percentage points behind DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Bills touted his background as an economics teacher and said his standing will improve once voters get to know him.
"Nobody knows me," Bills said as he referred to the campaign's polling data. "What we find out is that once people understand that I grew up blue collar, I actually have been in a union my whole life though I'm a coauthor on Right to Work, I'm a public school teacher who is still taught his class and stayed in the classroom, I'm a citizen legislator, all of a sudden my [favorability] to [unfavorability] goes 71-13."
Bills is working to increase that profile on several levels. He told Bennett that he'd love to see Mitt Romney "stand on the stage with a public school teacher and union member and campaign because it shows that things are tightening up here. "
Bills is also pushing for more debates with Klobuchar. Bills said there's one debate scheduled at this point - FarmFest in Redwood Falls in August. He said he'd like to get other debates on the schedule.
"I would say that I need your listeners to help out so I can actually build my name ID so that I can actually be big enough to say 'Hey let's sit down and actually talk about the economy," Bills said. "This big powerful attorney, this big U.S. Senator should be able to sit down and have a discussion with a little old economy teacher from Rosemount High School."
Bills also said he'd love to have a Lincoln/Douglas style debate between himself and Klobuchar. MPR News has invited Bills and Klobuchar to appear at a debate at the State Fair and to the station's traditional last debate on the Sunday before Election Day.
Klobuchar's campaign spokespeople didn't immediately return calls to discuss their debate plans. I'll update if/when they get back to me.
Update: A spokesman for Klobuchar's campaign says they're confirmed for FarmFest and will appear at MPR's State Fair debate (date and time To Be Determined). He also said they're working on other debates for the fall.
Here's Kurt Bills' full appearance on Bennett's show.
A group campaigning to amend the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage and the GOP endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate say someone hacked into their Facebook accounts to write posts on the same-sex marriage issue.
Andy Parrish, deputy campaign manager for the group Minnesota for Marriage, said someone also made unauthorized posts to the group's Twitter account, He said on Facebook someone posted an Old Testament verse saying the penalty for homosexuality is death.
"Minnesota for Marriage would never advocate for anybody being put to death," Parrish said. "We strongly believe that anybody is entitled to love whomever they want to love. We don't have a position on that. We just have a position on whether marriage in Minnesota should be redefined."
Parrish said he's working with Facebook to see who hacked into his account.
The alleged hacking comes a day after Minnesota for Marriage organized a protest outside of General Mills to criticize the company's opposition to the amendment.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills campaign said its Facebook page was also hacked in the past 24 hours. The unauthorized posting said Bills opposes the marriage amendment. Bills' campaign manager Mike Osskopp said Bills actually supports it.
"This particular post caught our attention because it's not a subject we're talking about," Osskopp said. "We're talking about the fact that our economy is in trouble. So we immediately went onto the site and rectified it and pulled the post down, and we now resecured it and hopefully it won't happen again."
Osskopp said he'll contact the Minnesota Attorney General's office to investigate the matter.
It's unclear if the two incidents are related.(10 Comments)
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association has endorsed DFL Senator Amy Klobuchar for a second term.
"Senator Klobuchar has always been a favorite with our membership because they know that she works tirelessly on issues important to them and she always makes public safety a top priority. She is seen as an aggressive advocate," said MPPOA Executive Director Dennis Flaherty.
The MPPOA represents more than 7,500 law enforcement and public safety officials throughout Minnesota.
Klobuchar is running for reelection. She faces Republican Kurt Bills in November.
This election cycle, Rep. Michele Bachmann will use a special political fund to help Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate.
All Republicans need are a net four seats to secure a majority in the Senate, Bachmann wrote in a fundraising e-mail for MICHELE PAC, a so-called leadership PAC that lawmakers set up to help fellow lawmakers or those running for office.
"With all the attention currently leveled at the Presidential race, some don't realize it's that close: to take back the Senate in 2012, all we need are four seats in four states," Bachmann wrote.
"And, we're closer than ever to taking them back. Of the eight seats currently listed as tossups by Real Clear Politics, six are currently held by Democrats. Or, put another way, six Democratic seats are now vulnerable enough that we're in striking distance of taking them."
Bachmann asked supporters to chip in $40 or more to help Republicans.
The e-mail doesn't specify which candidates Bachmann plans to help, but this year's MICHELE PAC campaign finance reports provide some clues.
For instance, Bachmann's leadership fund has already contributed $2,000 to Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg's U.S. Senate campaign. Rehberg is challenging incumbent Sen. Jon Tester, a race that Real Clear Politics calls a toss-up.
So far this year, MICHELE PAC has raised roughly $11,800 and spent more than $52,500. At the end of April, the fund had about $147,700 in cash on hand, according to the latest federal fundraising reports.
Public Policy Polling released another look at its poll from this week, this one showing DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar with a lead over her Republican opponent, Rep. Kurt Bills, of 26 percentage points.
The survey also looked at Klobuchar's prospects against Dan Severson, Pete Hegseth and Joe Arwood, though all three are no longer vying for the GOP nomination after Bills won the GOP endorsement last month.
Public Policy Polling (PPP) is a Democratic firm, though pollsters generally regard it as a fair operation.
When it comes to job approval, the poll also shows Klobuchar doing well with 57 percent of registered Minnesota voters saying they approve of her record, and 29 percent disapproving.
Klobuchar's lead is so comfortable, PPP wrote in a press release that the Minnesota Senate race "may be up there for the most boring one we've polled on this cycle."
Minnesota's junior senator is also doing well. Fifty percent of Minnesota voters approve of Sen. Al Franken's record, while 36 percent disapprove. He has comfortable advantages over three hypothetical 2014 opponents, including Norm Coleman, Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann, although the election is so far off the numbers don't seem very relevant.
Also a winner in the PPP poll? Minneapolis, which 40 percent of voters prefer over St. Paul.
PPP surveyed 973 Minnesota voters from May 31 - June 3. The poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. Read the rest of the poll here.
With MPR's Tim Pugmire...
The stage is set for Minnesota's primary and general election. The filings for office closed today at 5pm.
There will be primaries in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race, six Congressional races and 44 legislative races.
In Minnesota's U.S. Senate race, DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican Kurt Bills each face lesser known, perennial candidates.
The races for Congress include two highly-watched primary battles. State Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, and former state Rep. Allen Quist are running in the Republican primary in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District. Republican delegates in that race failed to endorse a candidate. The winner of the primary will face DFL U.S. Rep. Tim Walz in November.
Former Congressman Rick Nolan won the DFL endorsement in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District. He faces a primary challenge from former Duluth City Council member Jeff Anderson and former State Sen. Tarryl Clark. The winner will face GOP U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack in November.
The other Congressional incumbents are facing primary challenges from lesser known candidates.
The race for Minnesota Legislature also features several primary contests in both the House and Senate.
Incumbent state Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, is facing a primary challenge. It's one of at least nine Republican Senate primaries.
Incumbent DFL state Senators Chris Eaton of Brooklyn Center, Tom Saxhaug of Grand Rapids and Lyle Koenen of Clara City have primary challengers. There will also be DFL contests in at least seven other Senate districts, including the St. Paul district where four Democrats want to replace retiring state Sen. John Harrington.
In the Minnesota House, there are Republican primaries set in at least 11 districts, and DFL primaries in at least 14 districts. Multiple candidates filed for the seats of several retiring representatives, including Republican Morrie Lanning of Moorhead and DFLer Tom Rukavina of Virginia.
Forty-six incumbents will not run for their current office in the Minnesota Legislature. 11 of those incumbents are running for another office. They include Bills and Parry, who are running for federal office. Nine members of the Minnesota House are opting to run for a state Senate seat.
There's an unusually high turnover of candidates for a regular campaign year but that's in large part because redistricting pairs incumbents together and forces others to consider retirement.
Minnesota's Legislative Library say 47 members of the 2002 Legislature opted not to run for their current seat. That's the last time the political lines were redrawn as a result of redistricting.
Here's the retirement list:
Democrats not running for re-election in the Minnesota Senate:
Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon
Sen. Mary Jo McGuire, DFL-Falcon Heights
Sen. Ken Kelash, DFL-Minneapolis
Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis
Sen. John Harrington, DFL-St. Paul
Republicans not running for re-election in the Minnesota Senate:
Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas
Sen. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton
Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca (Running for Congress)
Sen. Amy Koch, R-Buffalo
Sen. Chris Gerlach, R-Apple Valley
Sen. Michael Jungbauer, R-East Bethel
Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina
Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan
Sen. Gen Olson, R-Minnetrista
Sen. Al DeKruif, R-Madison Lake
Sen. Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake
Democrats not running again in the Minnesota House:
Rep. Marion Greene, DFL-Minneapolis
Rep. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Kate Knuth, DFL-New Brighton
Rep. Denise Dittrich, DFL-Champlin
Rep. Larry Hosch, DFL-St. Joseph
Rep. Bev Scalze, DFL-Little Canada (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Nora Slawik, DFL-Maplewood
Rep. Bill Hilty, DFL-Finlayson
Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville
Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia
Rep. Kory Kath, DFL-Owatonna
Rep. Sandra Peterson, DFL-New Hope
Rep. Tom Tilberry, DFL-Fridley
Republicans not running again in the Minnesota House:
Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove
Rep. Mike LeMieur, R-Little Falls
Rep. Pat Mazorol, R-Bloomington
Rep. Connie Doepke, R-Orono (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Ron Shimanski, R-Silver Lake
Rep. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount (running for the U.S. Senate)
Rep. Brandon Peterson, R-Andover (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Keith Downey, R-Edina (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Mark Murdock, R-Perham
Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan
Rep. Bruce Anderson, R-Buffalo Township (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Carol McFarlane, R-White Bear Lake
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead
Rep. Roger Crawford, R-Mora
The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Minnesota Kurt Bills spent some time today campaigning in Wisconsin.
But Bills sent a mixed message by saying he supports both collective bargaining rights and Walker's efforts to roll back union protections for public employees in state and local governments.
"Can you collectively bargain? Yes, you absolutely can," Bills said. "But I think people have to be very careful especially with the public union side that sometimes you can drive costs up too much and at that point, these districts are going to get into rough shape."
When pressed for a clarification, Bills said he would need to study up on the changes made under Walker. Wisconsin residents choose tomorrow between Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a recall election.
Bills also said his fundraising is going very well suggesting the campaign has raised more than $100,000 since he entered the race.
He also repeated his criticism that Klobuchar and Senate Democrats have failed to pass a budget resolution in three years.
Klobuchar spent Monday morning speaking to Women Winning, a group that supports legal abortion. Klobuchar said the group's support will be critical to help Democrats win in November.
She encouraged the group of 1,200 people in attendance to work harder to elect female candidates.
"We have been through tough times in this country but we are going to make it and we will win but to do it, we need to deploy a secret weapon," Klobuchar said. "We need women to win." (Full speech here: Listen )
Klobuchar declined to answer questions after her speech because she said she was late for her flight to Washington D.C.
After entering the convention hall to "We Take Care of Our Own," a song from Bruce Springsteen's newest album, Klobuchar thanked the crowd for their endorsement and said she would continue to do what's best for the state.
"I will continue to fight for what's right, and I will always, always put Minnesota first," Klobuchar said.
Her endorsement comes as no surprise. Polls show the incumbent enjoys wide support in the state.
In her speech, Klobuchar pointed to some of her achievements in the Senate so far, including her work to secure assistance to rebuild the I-35W bridge, which collapsed shortly after she took office, her work on toy safety and a bill that was recently passed that ensures returning Minnesota National Guard soldiers get government benefits.
"It shouldn't take an act of Congress to fix this, but they needed one, and I got it done," Klobuchar said referring to the troops bill.
Klobuchar's critics have said that she focuses on minor issues and seldom gets in front of more contentious debates
Notably missing from Klobuchar's speech was any reference to her opponent, state Rep. Kurt Bills, who won the GOP's nomination in May.
Bills, who was endorsed by Ron Paul, supports some of the policies supported by the former GOP presidential candidate. If elected, Bills says he will shrink the nation's debt and deficit, and scale back the federal government, pledging to eliminate four federal departments. Among other things, Bills would also institute a flat tax and limit Social Security payments for the wealthy.
In contrast, Klobuchar said Washington needs to embrace a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to shrink the nation's deficit. If re-elected, Klobuchar said she would focus on trimming subsidies for oil companies and support policies aimed at the middle class.
"Do we go backward to the same old policies that sent us into the downward spiral that sent us into the great recession," she said. "Or do we go forward to build up America?"
Hear the rest of her speech here: Listen
Photo Credit: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar greets delagates during her entrance at the DFL state convention in Rochester Saturday, Jun. 2, 2012. Klobuchar won the DFL endorsement and will face Kurt Bills in the upcoming election. (Alex Kolyer for MPR)(1 Comments)
Posted at 9:58 AM on June 2, 2012
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: Campaign 2012, Campaign 2012: Presidential Race, Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate, Marriage Amendment, Political parties, Voter ID Amendment
ROCHESTER - The state DFL convention is underway. There's not much suspense about the main order of business-- endorsing U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar for a second term.
DFL party chair Ken Martin welcomed delegates Saturday morning by urging them to re-elect Klobuchar and President Barack Obama, and to defeat two constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot this fall.
"President Obama has asked all of us if we are in for 2012," Martin said. "I want President Obama to know that we have heard him and his call to action."
The crowd responded with shouts of, "I'm in!"
Martin said DFLers must vote against the two constitutional amendments, one that would require Minnesotans to show identification at the polls before they can vote and another that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.
"Who are we, as a people, to tell two committed, loving same-sex individuals that they cannot marry each other?" Martin said. "What kind of state do we want to leave to our children?"
Groups opposing both amendments have a noticeable presence at the convention, taking down delegate information, and passing out buttons and signs.
Martin also used his opening speech to attack the Minnesota Republican Party, which has been troubled by financial woes and leadership turnover.
The DFL party is united while Republicans are "in disarray," Martin said. The Republican party has been "beset by scandal, riddled with debt, and torn apart at the seams by infighting," he said.
Kurt Bills is spending his first week as the GOP endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate raising money for his campaign. Mike Osskopp, Bills campaign manager, said Bills will be focused primarily on raising money for the statewide race.
"The best use of his time right now is to raise money," Osskopp said.
Osskopp said Bills will spend most of his time this week reaching out to potential donors. Bills is scheduled to be on TPT's Almanac on Friday and will attend a parade in Zimmerman on Saturday.
The emphasis on fundraising signals a shift from winning the endorsement to winning a general election. Candidates win endorsements by spending plenty of time on the phone convincing GOP delegates that they're the best candidate to represent the party in November. Now, Bills has to ramp up his fundraising to create a campaign network that can win the general election.
Campaign fundraising reports show Bills had $33,000 in the bank at the close of the last quarter. DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar had more than 150 times that amount on hand.
Bills acknowledged on MPR News Monday that he won't be able to raise as much money as Klobuchar but said he hopes to raise roughly $5 million for the statewide campaign.(3 Comments)
WASHINGTON - Just days after Minnesota Republicans endorsed a candidate to run against DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the state's senior senator will add to her campaign's already large war chest with a birthday-themed fundraiser Tuesday evening at an upscale Washington restaurant.
According to an invitation collected by Politico, Klobuchar's fundraiser will be hosted by fellow Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy, Jay Rockefeller and Debbie Stabenow. All three Senators chair committees that Klobuchar sits on.
The event will be held at Bistro Bis, a French restaurant close to the Capitol whose menu includes dishes such as "peppercorn crusted duck breast with parsnip variations, porcini mushrooms and sherry ravigote" for $28.50 per plate. Individual donors are asked to give $2,500 to attend the fundraiser, those representing political action committees are asked to give $5,000.
The invitation says Klobuchar will share the proceeds of the event with the Minnesota DFL party. Klobuchar turns 52 on Friday, May 25.
Klobuchar isn't the the only member of Minnesota's congressional to use her birthday as an opportunity to fundraise. Fellow Sen. Al Franken's birthday is today, May 21, and for the past week, his family has been soliciting contributions pegged to his birthday.
Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has also used her birthday to raise money from supporters.
The newly endorsed Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate suggests that cutting the federal workforce is one of the ways he'd reduce the federal budget deficit.
In an interview with The Daily Circuit on MPR News, state Representative Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount, said this year's election will focus on specifics.
In particular, he wants to reduce the federal budget deficit by cutting programs. Bills didn't offer many specifics of his own but said he would look at the budget plan put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. He compared the success of North Dakota's economy to the federal government.
"One's booming of real economic growth that's natural resource-based, and the other one is booming because of borrowed money. So we have to get in and look at the federal workforce that has grown so much and pare that back so the private sector can grow," he said.
Bills won the Republican endorsement on Friday over several other candidates after receiving strong backing from delegates who support Texas Congressman Ron Paul's campaign for president.
Bills said he still backs Paul for president but will eventually back the GOP nominee. He also said he shouldn't be considered someone who agrees with Ron Paul on every issue.
"I had somebody ask me are you a Ronald Reagan Republican or a Ron Paul Republican?" Bills said. "I said I'm a Kurt Bills Republican. I think whatever your name is within the party, you're that person."
Bills said he doesn't expect a significant primary challenge. He will face DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar in November.
Bills said he's going to spend the day focusing on how much money his campaign needs to compete with Klobuchar. He said his campaign is looking at a budget of roughly $5 million but acknowledged he'll be outspent by Klobuchar. The latest campaign finance reports shows her with more than $5 million in the bank, much more than Bills has raised so far.
You can listen to the full interview here: Listen(1 Comments)
Minnesota Republican Party officials are urging Republican delegates and voters to unify behind U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills.
Bills tried to showcase that unity this morning as he hosted a breakfast fundraiser for the Republican Party of Minnesota. The featured guest was Texas Congressman Ron Paul, a presidential candidate who has quite a following at this year's convention. Paul urged the party to rally around Bills' campaign, which he says stands conservative principles similar to his own.
"He can't even get their without your support and your money and your work and your effort," Paul said. "But he's the kind of individual who will stand strong."
The event attracted 600 people and raised $12,000 for the Republican Party of Minnesota. Minnesota Republican Party Chair Pat Shortridge thanked the audience, which was dominated by Paul supporters. But Shortridge said he wanted to see them work for all Republican candidates in November.
"This breakfast would not be successful and will not be successful if you're not taking this same passion, this same energy, this same enthusiasm, back to communities, back to where you live and to persuade people to get on the bus," Shortridge said.
But unity could face a big test later today as supporters of Paul and likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney battle to decide which candidate will win the 13 remaining delegates to represent the state party at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL.
The state party will have a total of 40 delegates at the national convention. They include party Shortridge, the state's National Committeeman and National Committeewoman. Twenty of the 24 delegates already selected at earlier conventions are backing Ron Paul over Romney.
And even though Romney is the presumptive nominee, he has little presence at this year's convention. Despite a handful of signs plastered on the convention walls, there are few people vocally supporting him. Romney surrogates, including former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, are not at the event speaking on his behalf. The party did play a 43-second video message from Romney's wife, Ann.
"President Obama has our country headed in the wrong direction, and it is up to us, together, to get this great nation back on track," Ann Romney said on the video message. "Mitt and I would appreciate your support for the Conservative Unity Slate endorsed by Romney for President."
That Conservative Unity Slate features GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, Deputy Party Chair Kelly Fenton, former Congressman Mark Kennedy and several state lawmakers. The Romney campaign is trying to create a slate that could be attractive to supporters of Ron Paul.
But Paul supporters have been working behind the scenes to ensure that their delegates make it to Tampa. Mark Santelman of Winthrop is one of the Paul supporters who wants to be a national delegate. He said one of the reasons he wants to be at the convention in Florida is to force Romney and other national candidates to adhere to constitutional principles.
"If Romney is the candidate, I'm going to vote for him and work for him, but we want to bind him down," Santelman said. "That's my goal as a delegate is to just get a Republican Party that says OK, we're going to vet our candidates better."
Will be updated...
With MPR's Conrad Wilson
ST. CLOUD- Pete Hegseth, a former Army Captain, told GOP delegates today that he has the political experience to defeat DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar in November.
"It will take more than courage to win this race in November," Hegseth said. "It will take the right candidate."
Hegseth said his experience as executive director of the group Veterans for Freedom will help build a campaign that can defeat the popular incumbent.
"We don't run against Democrats to make a point, we run against Democrats to win and then to govern with Republican principles."
Hegseth said he helped Republicans win federal races when he took over Vets for Freedom which has 95,000 members and raised over $10 million. He also said he'll work to highlight Klobuchar's record.
"Many Minnesotans have a warm and fuzzy feeling about her, but they don't know how she votes," Hegseth said. "Do they know she has a more liberal voting record than DFL Rep. Keith Ellison?"
Hegseth said that he stood up to liberals during his time at Princeton University, as executive director of Veterans for Freedom and while serving in Afghanistan.
"As your candidate for U.S. Senate, I will be the consistent, courageous conservative that you deserve," Hegseth said. "Not because I say so but because I always have been."
Hegseth said one of his biggest priorities will be to reduce the size of the federal deficit.
Referring to the economy, Hegseth said it's not just Democrats that got "us into this mess." He blamed Republicans for talking like conservatives on the campaign trail and then voting like Democrats in Washington.
Here's Hegseth's speech: Listen(1 Comments)
ST. CLOUD -The endorsement battle for U.S. Senate is underway at the Republican state convention.
State Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount, used the imagery of David vs. Goliath to showcase his race against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
"Politically the experts say Amy Klobuchar is unbeatable, she's a nice person, and have you tried her hotdish recipe?" Bills told the audience. "But we're not here to elect Miss Congeniality."
Bills said he was basing his campaign on five principles: economic freedom, incentives, competition, voluntary exchange and private property
Bills, a high school economics teacher at Rosemount High School, has emphasized lowering the federal deficit and "taming the tax code." He also said that there is a deficit of leadership in Washington D.C. Bills linked Klobuchar to President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He called Klobuchar a "rubber stamp" for their agenda.
"These liberals have teamed up to give us years of trillion dollar budget deficits," Bills said. "The debt that Klobuchar and Obama has created are a giant we face."
Bills is relying on Ron Paul supporters who are exhibiting their strength at the convention. He has Paul's endorsement and that of more than 40 state lawmakers including Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers.
State Rep. Keith Downey, R-Edina, nominated Bills at the convention. He suggested Bills background as an economics teacher would help him win over swing voters.
"Let me show you the headline," Downey told the audience."Minnesota GOP endorses public school teacher for U.S. Senate."
You can listen to Bills' speech here: Listen
The Speaker of the Minnesota House is backing state Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount, for U.S Senate. Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers called Bills a "man of integrity" and said he has the right plan to improve the nation's economy.
"This election is about the economy. We need to send someone to Washington that can not only ask the tough questions but answer them," Zellers said in a statement.
Zellers and Bills have served in the Minnesota House together over the last two years.
Zellers' endorsement comes two days before Republican delegates meet in St. Cloud to endorse a Republican candidate to challenge DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Army veteran Pete Hegseth and former state Rep. Dan Severson are also vying for the GOP endorsement. All three candidates have said that they will drop out of the race if they don't win party backing.
Here's the endorsement letter from Zellers:
Texas governor and former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has thrown his support behind Minnesota Army National Guard Capt. Pete Hegseth in the Minnesota GOP Senate endorsement battle. The move comes ahead of the GOP State Convention, which starts Friday morning in St. Cloud, at which the party will endorse a candidate to run against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar this fall. Competing for the endorsement are Hegseth, former state Rep. Dan Severson, and current state Rep. Kurt Bills.
Perry appears in a video endorsing Hegseth as "exactly the kind of patriot that we need."
Kurt Bills has the endorsement of Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul who remains a GOP presidential candidate. Perry dropped out of the nomination battle in January.(1 Comments)
A new super PAC will be helping potential Republican candidate Pete Hegseth in the lead-up to the Republican nominating convention next week.
Reclaiming Freedom was launched this week and is aimed at taking back the U.S. Senate for Republicans.
"We're choosing states that we believe can be flipped from blue to red," said Brian Wise, founder of the political action committee. "And Minnesota, with Pete Hegseth as the nominee, is one of those states. With anybody else as the nominee, the GOP doesn't have a chance."
Reclaiming Freedom has endorsed only one other candidate. Its decision to back Hegseth came early because the state's Republican nominating convention is coming up so soon, Wise said.
Hegseth's prospects for winning the GOP endorsement to challenge DFL incumbent Sen. Amy Klobuchar have been complicated by the fact that Ron Paul has endorsed Hegseth's opponent, Rep. Kurt Bills. Paul's supporters are expected to make a strong showing at the convention.
So over the next week or so, Wise said Reclaiming Freedom will be focusing on this message: "A vote by any of the delegates at the state convention for Kurt Bills is a vote for Amy Klobuchar," Wise said.
Wise wouldn't say exactly what the group's strategy will be, but noted that it will be "aggressively engaging in Minnesota over the next two weeks."
Wise said Reclaiming Freedom won't be relying only on advertising; the group will be using polling, grassroots campaigns and direct mail as well.
Hegseth and Wise have a personal history. Wise was a senior adviser to Vets for Freedom while Hegseth served as the group's executive director. Wise says the two have been friends and colleagues for a number of years.
Wise said Hegseth did not know Reclaiming Freedom would be helping him out because campaign finance law prevent super PACs from coordinating with the candidates they are supporting.
Reclaiming Freedom hopes to raise $10 million throughout the entire election season, and spread that cash between five-to-seven races throughout the country, Wise said.
Wise wouldn't disclose how much money the group has raised so far or who its donors are, but said that contributors will likely announce their support before the next federal campaign finance filing deadline.
"We're not planning on trying to hide any of our donors," Wise said.
Posted at 1:11 PM on April 16, 2012
by Mark Zdechlik
Filed under: Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate
Republican Dan Severson's U.S. Senate campaign is reporting first quarter fundraising of $53,884 and says it ended March with a little more than $40,000 in campaign cash on hand.
Severson, a former state representative from Sauk Rapids, has been running for Senate since May 2011.
Another candidate, Pete Hegseth, got into the race in March and reported much stronger fundraising of $160,000 for the first quarter and $130,000 cash on hand as of March 31.
And state Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount, the latest entrant in the race to take on Democrat Amy Klobuchar, has not yet reported his first quarter fundraising numbers. Klobuchar's campaign told reporters it ended the quarter with more than $5.2 million in campaign cash.
WASHINGTON - DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's war chest keeps expanding. Her re-election campaign announced Friday that the first-term Senator raised just over $1 million in the first quarter of 2012 and has just under $5.2 million cash on hand.
One of Klobuchar's potential GOP rivals, National Guard veteran Pete Hegseth reported this week that he raised $160,000 in his effort for the Republican endorsement.
More than 25 percent of Klobuchar's million dollar haul came from donors giving less than $200. About 50 percent came from donors giving more than $200 and political action committees contributed about 23 percent of her funds.
Vice-President Joe Biden will be in Minneapolis this morning to raise money for Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Biden will hold the fundraiser at The Hilton in downtown Minneapolis. Donors are being asked to give from $125 per person to $25,000 with the contributions shared by Klobuchar and the DFL Party. Biden has no public events scheduled during his visit.
Klobuchar, who is in her first-term, is considered a safe bet for reelection in November but Republicans say she can be beaten because she voted in favor of the bank bailouts, the federal stimulus and the federal health care law. Three Republicans are vying for their party's endorsement to challenge Klobuchar. They are state Representative Kurt Bills, Army veteran Pete Hegseth and former state Representative Dan Severson.
This isn't the first time Biden has held a private fundraiser in the state. He held a Minneapolis fundraiser for President Obama's reelection last May.
Vice President Joe Biden will hold a fundraiser for DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar at The Hilton Hotel in Minneapolis on April 11. The fundraising letter is asking donors to give $10,000 for VIP seating, program recognition and a photo with Biden. Those who give $25,000 will be considered chairs of the event. There are a variety of other suggested contributions. The lowest cost donation to get into the fundraiser is $125.
The fundraising letter says Klobuchar's campaign will split the money raised from the event with the Minnesota DFL State Central Committee.
The White House has not announced Biden's visit yet, so it's unknown whether the fundraiser will be public. It also isn't known whether Biden will hold any other events during his time in Minnesota.
WASHINGTON - Hockey is Minnesota's official state sport, so it's only appropriate that DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar use an NHL hockey game to add to her campaign coffers.
According to an invitation first reported by Politico, Klobuchar is attending a fundraiser in her honor at this Sunday's match between the Minnesota Wild and the Washington Capitals at Washington's Verizon Center. The event is hosted by the political action committee of the National Association of Broadcasters.
Tickets start at $500 a person. For those uninterested in politics or broadcasting policy, seats start at $55 a head.
Klobuchar apparently enjoys unconventional fundraisers. Last year, she held another event at the Verizon Center to see a production of "Glee!".
Posted at 12:29 PM on March 8, 2012
by Mark Zdechlik
Filed under: Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate
Former Rosemount City Council member and current first-term Republican State Rep. Kurt Bills highlighted his experience as a high school math teacher as he announced his campaign for U.S. Senate Thursday.
At a news conference in downtown Rosemount, Bills talked about the importance of shrinking the national debt and addressing deficit spending.
"I've watched in great detail as the various deficits and debts that our country has have grown into shockingly large proportions of our overall economy," he said. "It doesn't seem to matter who's in charge. The mismanagement of our entitlements, the loss of the purchasing power of our wages and our national debt figures have only gotten worse it seems as time goes on."
Bills criticized DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar for supporting government bailout programs.
"I've watched in great detail as the various deficits and debt that our country has have grown into shockingly large proportions of our overall economy," he said. "It doesn't seem to matter who's in charge. The mismanagement of our entitlements, the loss of the purchasing power of our wages and our national debt figures have only gotten worse as time goes on."
Bills offered no details on how he would address the national debt. He also didn't say how much money he thought he would need for his Senate campaign.
He joins Dan Severson and Pete Hegseth in seeking the Republican endorsement to run against Klobuchar. All three men say they will abide by the endorsement.
A freshman state lawmaker says he's considering a run for the U.S. Senate and may announce his plans later this week.
Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount, says he's been weighing a possible run for several months. Although he's a Republican he didn't rule out running as a Libertarian.
Bills was first elected to the House in 2010. He campaigned for Texas Congressman Ron Paul's presidential bid during last month's precinct caucuses.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar is running for re-election. Two Republicans, Dan Severson and Pete Hegseth, are already running.
Republican Pete Hegseth formally launched a campaign for U.S. Senate against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Thursday.
At a state Capitol news conference, Hegseth criticized Klobuchar for supporting government bailouts and stimulus spending. Hegseth, 31, is a Minnesota Army National Guard captain who has never before run for office. He says his age and lack of elective office experience should not be factors against him.
"I think a lot of Minnesotans are kind of sick of the folks that have run for office their entire life and have been career politicians and have spent their entire life maneuvering and calculating their way to some higher office," said Hegseth. "I've spent my time in service serving in the military."
Hegseth has two bronze stars for his military service and recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He says he will abide by the GOP endorsement process. So does former State Rep. Dan Severson, the only other Republican actively campaigning to run against Klobuchar.
Hegseth did not say how much money he thinks he will need to raise for his campaign.
A new poll by Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling shows that Sen. Amy Klobuchar is in a strong position headed into the 2012 election.
About 61 percent of Minnesotans hold a favorable view of Klobuchar, according to the poll. Roughly 80 percent of those polled said they have no opinion of her declared challengers.
Voters approve of her fellow DFL Sen. Al Franken by a 49-39 percent margin.
Meanwhile, 57 percent of those polled say they have an unfavorable view of Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who recently ended her run for the White House. The same percentage of voters say Bachmann should not run again for office.
Only 39 percent of those polled approve of Gov. Tim Pawlenty. A majority of voters - about 51 percent - say they would not support Pawlenty in a future run for a statewide office.
Public Policy Polling president Dean Debnam said the numbers show Bachmann and Pawlenty's presidential bids did damage to their reputations at home.
"Both are unpopular and would have a hard time getting elected to statewide office in the future," Debnam said.
Read more about the poll here.(1 Comments)
When she dropped out of the race for president today, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann didn't say what her future would be. She's still a sitting member of the U.S. House but hasn't said if she'll run for re-election. Her spokesman, Alice Stewart, said Bachmann doesn't know what she's going to do next.
Bachmann has a few options.
1) She could run for the U.S. Senate.
Republicans would love to see Bachman make a run against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar, especially since a top tier GOP candidate hasn't emerged yet. A major challenge for Bachmann is to shift gears from being an "Iowan" running for president to a Minnesotan running for the U.S. Senate. Polling also suggests that Bachmann would have a lot of ground to make up if she challenges Klobuchar.
2) She could run for re-election.
Bachmann is extremely popular among Republican activists and can raise money from small donors. But again her claim to being an Iowan could come back to hurt her. There's no doubt those comments will be put in attack ads if she makes another run for Congress. She also raised and spent a lot of money on the race for the White House , and it isn't clear how much she has left. If she has an empty campaign account, Bachmann will have to start from scratch and can't ask major donors to max out to her campaign if they already wrote large dollar checks to her presidential campaign. Another deterrent is Bachmann is on the outs with GOP leadership in the House. She lost a bid for a leadership position last year and didn't please Republican leaders when she stepped on the GOP response to last year's State of the Union.
3) She could capitalize on her star power.
Bachmann has been a dynamic speaker who energizes many Republicans and angers many Democrats. She's also unpredictable. All of those factors make her a prime catch for a national TV or radio host. She could also write another book, but as MPR's Brett Neely reported earlier this month that Bachmann's book sales have not been brisk.
Posted at 5:50 PM on October 25, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate
With MPR's Mike Mulcahy...
Another Republican says he wants to run against DFL Senator Amy Klobuchar in 2012.
Anthony Hernandez of St. Paul says it's time for a new generation of politicians to try to solve the nation's problems and get people back to work.
"We need to have a resurgence in the private sector," Hernandez told MPR News. "President Obama and Sen. Amy Klobuchar 's policies of stimulus spending--it's obviously not working. Because ever since they bailed out the banks in 2008 unemployment keeps going up, our national debt keeps going up and quite literally we're selling out the future of our young children who aren't being represented right now in the Senate or Congress or really in any level of government."
(Editor's note: It should be noted that President Bush signed the Troubled Asset Relief Program into law. Klobuchar voted for the measure. Barack Obama also voted for the measure when he was in the U.S. Senate.)
Hernandez, 32, has never held elective office, although he has run unsuccessfully for state Senate against DFL Sen. Dick Cohen.
Hernandez says he will run on a campaign theme of requiring term limits for members of Congress and on a plan to ensure the federal budget is balanced. Hernandez said he favors portions of Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan and, like many Republicans, wants to repeal President Obama's health care law.
Republicans Dan Severson and Joe Arwood have also said they're running for Senate.
Posted at 7:03 AM on October 24, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate
Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Severson's campaign finance report shows that the former state Representative raised $35,686 in the 3rd Quarter. The report lists that he has $27,820 in the bank. Severson also lists $6,300 in debt and shows that he loaned his campaign $6,300 since the start of his campaign. He loaned himself $3,000 in the latest fundraising quarter.
Severson, who lost his bid for Minnesota Secretary of State against Democrat Mark Ritchie in 2010, is vying for the GOP endorsement against Joe Arwood. Arwood, a St. Bonifacius city council member, reported raising $10,000 in the 3rd Quarter.
The eventual GOP nominee will face DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar. She reported raising more than $1 million in the 3rd Quarter and has more than $4 million in the bank.
Posted at 11:15 PM on October 19, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Arwood says his campaign raised $10,534 in the 3rd Quarter. Arwood issued a news release saying his campaign also has $7,177 left in the bank.
"Since announcing my Senate bid in late August, fundraising has not been my primary focus." Arwood said in a news release. "The resources and energies of my campaign have been focused upon directly engaging the concerns of the men, women and families of Minnesota."
"We have placed our focus on the issues that matter to Minnesotans rather than solely on fundraising," Arwood said in the release.
Arwood is vying for the Republican endorsement with former Rep. Dan Severson. The Federal Election Commission has not published Severson's latest campaign finance report.
Whoever wins the GOP nomination will face DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Klobuchar's report also hasn't been filed but her campaign reports raising
$934,456 $1,021,263 in the 3rd Quarter. She reports having $4 million in the bank.
WASHINGTON - DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar's re-election campaign hauled in just over $1 million for the three month period ending Sept. 30, bringing her stockpile of cash on hand to more than $4 million.
The amount is slightly less than her second quarter fundraising, when she brought in $1.1 million, but the state's senior U.S. Senator has a daunting financial advantage over her declared Republican opponents, former state representative Dan Severson and Joe Arwood.
In the second quarter, Severson raised just $3,700; more recent results aren't yet available. Arwood only recently declared his candidacy and has not yet filed any paperwork on his fundraising.
WASHINGTON - If there was ever a Congressional committee with the power to rivet the attention of Senators and House members, it's the new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the "super committee."
The bipartisan, bicameral committee of 12 is the child of last month's debt ceiling deal and has an unusual amount of power to find more than $1.5 trillion in budget savings over the next decade by Thanksgiving. The House and Senate must then approve or reject the entire package without amendments (and in the case of the Senate, with a simple majority vote) by Christmas. If the deal is rejected, automatic, across-the-board cuts worth $1.2 trillion kick in starting in 2013.
On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of more than 30 senators, including DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar, asked the super committee to "go big" and reach a $4 trillion deal along the lines of proposals made by last year's Bowles-Simpson Commission and another framework reached by the Senate's so-called "Gang of Six" earlier this year.
Some of the other signers include Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).
At a press conference, the senators said their goal was to provide political cover for the super committee members to go above and beyond their mandated budget cutting goals, but the letter also reflects another new fact of Capitol Hill life: most lawmakers are now forced to lobby this select committee of Senators and House members instead of having a direct voice in affairs themselves.
Klobuchar isn't alone among Minnesota lawmakers writing these kinds of letters to the super committee.
Yesterday, her colleagues, DFL Sen. Al Franken was one of several Senate liberals who penned a letter to all 12 committee members asking them to spare Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from cuts.
In the House, DFL Rep. Keith Ellison co-wrote a letter on behalf of the Progressive Caucus that he leads asking the committee to add job creation to its mandate.
Some members are counting on personal connections to ensure that their voices are heard. DFL Rep. Collin Peterson is concerned that agricultural programs will be hard hit by the super committee because of the "ideological agendas" of some of its members.
But Peterson says agriculture has at least one ally with a seat on the committee, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who also chairs the Senate Finance Committee.
"He's our guy," Peterson said in an interview, "He's been calling me regularly and we've been strategizing."
So far, Minnesota's four Republicans in the House have been quiet about the super committee, but shortly after the bill creating the committee passed, Rep. John Kline expressed concern about the automatic defense cuts that would take place if the committee doesn't reach a deal.
The open question is whether all of the letters and personal contacts will be enough to change the 12 members' minds by Thanksgiving.
The Independence Party of Minnesota will not formally back a U.S. candidate in 2012, and will instead focus its efforts on a handful of legislative candidates.
Party Chairman Mark Jenkins said he cannot prohibit someone from running under the IP banner, but he said the party has no plans to recruit, endorse or provide financial support to a candidate. Jenkins said he thinks the Independence Party is poised to win some legislative seats for the first time, and that's his priority as chairman. He said the party doesn't have the resources right now to also run a U.S. Senate candidate.
"My hope is that in 2014 then maybe we have the resources to support both a statewide governors race and a slew of state legislative races," Jenkins said. "But I mean it's no secret that there are some areas of the state where we're a little thin, and we need to built that up. I want that to be our focus."
Incumbent Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar is running for a second term next year. So far, two Republican challengers have stepped forward.
Former state Rep. Phill Krinkie said he's considering a run for U.S. Senate next year, because he doesn't think either of the current two Republican candidates can mount a competitive race against incumbent Democrat Amy Klobuchar.
Krinkie is a small business owner and the current president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. He said he's concerned about what's going on in Washington. The current GOP challengers to Klobuchar are Joe Arwood and Dan Severson. Krinkie said he is far from making a decision about running, but he's confident about his ability to mount a strong campaign.
"Can I raise the money? A daunting task, but I think I have enough credibility and enough moxie to go raise the funds necessary to give a competitive race," Krinkie said. "But again, don't get me wrong here, just because I think I can doesn't mean I'm going to jump off the bridge into the water and do it."
Krinkie said he would also consider running for Congress in the 6th district, but only if incumbent GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who's currently running for president, does not seek re-election. Krinkie lost an endorsement battle for the seat to Bachmann in 2006.(2 Comments)
Posted at 10:39 AM on August 22, 2011
by Tim Pugmire
Filed under: Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate
A second Republican candidate is joining the race to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Joe Arwood, a first-term member of the St. Bonifacius city council, will officially announce his candidacy at an event later today in that city. Arwood said his political philosophy is rooted in the constitution and the country's founding principles. He said that he decided to enter the U.S. Senate race because he's grown concerned about the size and the reach of the federal government.
"I felt like it was time for really a -- and I hate to use the term a main street individual -- but thought it was time for more common people, more main street individuals to get into the political process," Arwood said.
Arwood said he will seek GOP backing and will abide by the party endorsement. He joins former state Rep. Dan Severson of Sauk Rapids, who announced his candidacy back in May.
Here's the news release from Arwood's campaign:
Today a new type of candidate steps out into the field for Minnesota in a bid for the Republican nomination for US Senate. He is not your ordinary 'Common Joe', nor a typical politician; instead this Joe is ready to take on Washington to get them to listen to the 'Common Joe' .
Right off of the bat, Joe Arwood, will be making a significant announcement that will change the nature of politics and how we hold our Representatives accountable. That announcement will take place today, Monday Aug. 22nd 2011, promptly at 6pm, in the City of St. Bonifacius, at Missile Park, on the corners of County Road 92 and Wildwood Ave, under the pavilion.
Joe Arwood,38, is a resident of the City of St. Bonifacius, 25 miles outside of downtown Minneapolis, who also is in his first term on the City Council. As a past volunteer for the town's fire department Joe is used to running towards the fire rather than running away from it. Joe is part of the successful AutoTrader sales team...ok so he's not a very 'common Joe'.
When asked why run now, he responds, ‚...our Country is in trouble, and we need people with common sense solutions to be leaders. We the people need to take our Country back from the political class that has established obscene pay and perks for themselves, while at the same time kicking the economic and Social Security can down the road. We need to get the economy going again, people are hurting out there, and Government seems to be standing in the way, or at least on a collective break. Here we are in the middle of a huge unemployment crisis, while the President is on vacation, and Congress is on break. Why are we not in session discussing the possibilities of a simpler tax code that would close the loop holes, lower taxes for companies that want to invest here at home, rather than abroad? Why are we not looking at our regulations that are preventing us from being energy independent? Why are we not allowing struggling families to tap into their 401K, by removing the 10% penalty, to save their homes and the housing market as a whole?? This 'uncommon Joe' is ready to run towards the financial fire, put it out, roll up his sleeves to help get us going again.
This week we will be filing the necessary paperwork with both the State and Fed's to officially launch the campaign.
Klobuchar's deputy campaign manager, Justin Buoen, issued this statement:
Senator Klobuchar is continuing her work on behalf of the people of Minnesota. She is focused on the issues of private-sector job creation and economic growth and pushing for a responsible, bipartisan deficit-reduction plan. She has made helping people in our state her top priority since she got to the Senate, from swiftly securing funding to rebuild the I-35W bridge, to opening markets overseas for our farmers and businesses, to cutting through red tape to ensure our veterans receive their full benefits. Fighting for the people of Minnesota will continue to be her top priority - election year or no election year."
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was doing more than campaigning during his failed run for president. Pawlenty, who dropped his bid for president on Sunday, filed his income and financial holdings with the Federal Elections Commission today. Pawlenty disclosed $714,635 in assets over the past year which included his $121,260 salary as governor, $342,000 in royalty payments from his book, 'Courage to Stand' and $242,000 in speaking fees. Pawlenty also listed more than $450,000 in assets like retirement funds.
Pawlenty hasn't said what he'll do next. MNGOP Chair Tony Sutton is lobbying Pawlenty to run against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar in 2012. Republican political strategist Vin Weber, who chaired Pawlenty's presidential campaign, says he thinks Pawlenty won't challenge Klobuchar but could run for the U.S. Senate or governor in 2014.
Here's the full report Pawlenty filed with the FEC:
For those wondering, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann has filed an extension for her report.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will be crossing his state's border with Minnesota to attend a GOP gathering in October. The first term GOP governor, who has been heavily criticized by Democrats and unions for his work to change collective bargaining laws in Wisconsin, will be one of the keynote speakers at the Midwest Leadership Conference on October 7 and 8.
"We are honored and excited to add Gov. Scott Walker to the list of speakers for the Midwest Leadership Conference," said Minnesota GOP Chairman Tony Sutton in a statement. ""Despite millions of dollars and man hours spent by the Democrat Party and its allies on the Wisconsin recall elections, Republicans maintained their majority status in the Wisconsin Senate."
The Midwest Leadership Conference is a gathering of 1,500 Republican leaders and activists from Republican National Committee's Midwest Region (Ohio, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota). Several GOP presidential hopefuls are also scheduled to speak at the event.(1 Comments)
State Senator Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville), says he won't run against incumbent U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar in 2012.
"Over the last several weeks many people have encouraged me to take this opportunity seriously," he said in a press statement. "I have taken their advice, but have decided not to run."
"The new Senate Republican majority has transformed the discussion and dramatically impacted the direction of policy in this great state," Thompson added. "Our work has just begun."
That leaves former state Rep. Dan Severson as Klobuchar's only challenger. Her approval ratings have been remarkable; for instance a poll conducted in late May shows that 61 percent of Minnesotans approve of the job Klobuchar is doing in Washington.
WASHINGTON - Happy Federal Election Commission fundraising filing deadline day!
We don't have all the numbers on how much the various presidential, senatorial and congressional campaigns have brought in, but we'll update this post as more results come in.
Michele Bachmann - CBS reports that the Stillwater Congresswoman has raised $4 million since officially announced her bid for the White House last month. We're trying to confirm those numbers with the campaign. The CBS report says $2 million came from donors and the other $2 million was transferred from Bachmann's congressional campaign account. While $2 million in less than a month is nothing to sneeze at, there had been speculation that Bachmann's haul was likely to be far bigger and the Washington Post's conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin deemed the figure mediocre.
UPDATE: Bachmann's campaign announced that she's raised $4.2 million in the past quarter, although it didn't break out how much came before and after Bachmann's June 12th official announcement that she was entering the race. The campaign says Bachmann had more than 88,000 donors who gave an average of $48. Her war chest holds $3.6 million.
Tim Pawlenty - The former governor's campaign had reported two weeks ago that it raised $4.2 million over the past three months. Today, they're saying that when they counted every penny in the piggy bank, it was actually $4.5 million with $2 million cash on hand. Just $600,000 of the money is dedicated to the general election, should Pawlenty win the Republican primary. That puts Pawlenty even with Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) but both are still far behind Mitt Romney, who brought in over $18 million in the same period.
Amy Klobuchar - As reported earlier this week, Klobuchar raised $1.1 million for her reelection bid and has more than $3 million in the bank.
Dan Severson - The only declared GOP opponent for Klobuchar's seat raised just $3,600 in the past quarter. If that fundraising pace continues, next year's Senate election could look like the short film Bambi meets Godzilla.
Jeff Anderson - Anderson, a city council member in Duluth, is one of three DFLers who have already declared their intent to run against Republican Chip Cravaack in the 8th Congressional District. His campaign has raised $30,000 so far and has $27,000 in the bank.
Lee Byberg - Republican Byberg lost to DFLer Collin Peterson last year. This time around, his FEC filing shows that Byberg raised $40,000 in the past quarter and has $42,000 cash on hand. One challenge for Byberg, his campaign still has $77,000 in debt from the election cycle.
Tarryl Clark - Former State Rep. Clark took on - and lost to - Michele Bachmann in the 6th District last year. Although Clark went down in flames, she raised $5 million in the most expensive House race last year. Now, she's moved to Duluth and plans to challenge newcomer Rep. Chip Cravaack. Clark's campaign says she raised over $140,000 since declaring her bid two months ago and has $130,00 cash on hand.
Chip Cravaack - Freshman Republican Rep. Cravaack is likely to face a very tough re-election campaign in the 8th District. So far, we've gotten no answer from his campaign about their fundraising, but last quarter's results were not terribly strong given the amount of money Democrats are likely to pour into the race. UPDATE Cravaack's campaign raised nearly $224,000 and has almost $269,000 cash on hand. As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Cravaack has drawn interest from many lobbyists and trade associations related to industries that do business with the committee. Cravaack pulled in more than $76,000 from political action committees.
Randy Lee Demmer - Republican Demmer challenged DFL Rep. Tim Walz in the 1st District last year and lost. Demmer's in the race again this year but so far has raised just $1,600 and his campaign is still buried under $93,000 in debt from last year.
Keith Ellison -
As yet, there's no response from the DFL Congressman's campaign. UPDATE: Minneapolis Congressman Keith Ellison's campaign raised $233,000 last quarter. The DFLer's campaign bank account now holds $169,000.
John Kline -
UPDATE: The 2nd District Republican Congressman's campaign raised $327,000 this quarter and has $583,000 cash on hand. As the new chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Kline's fundraising base has expanded considerably in the past year and a closer look at those numbers will probably reveal many out of state donors. The Republican chair of the House Education and Workforce committee hasn't yet announced his campaign's fundraising totals.
Betty McCollum - DFLer McCollum's campaign reports raising $114,000 last quarter, with $108,000 cash on hand. McCollum has a very safe DFL seat in St. Paul and is not expecting a serious challenge. Still, her campaign is about to get a big fundraising boost when McCollum's close ally, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, holds a fundraiser in Minnesota this weekend for McCollum and other Democrats.
Erik Paulsen -
Paulsen's campaign says its results will be out later this afternoon. UPDATE: 3rd District Congressman Erik Paulsen's campaign raised $396,000 last quarter and now has $676,000 in the bank. That's in line with his strong fundraising performance in the first quarter and may scare away some potential DFL challengers.
Collin Peterson - The powerful ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee raised $161,000 in the past three months. Over $126,000 of those funds came from political action committees associated with various agricultural companies and trade associations. Peterson's campaign war chest now has $581,000 in it.
Lynne Torgerson - Tea party Republican Torgerson challenged DFLer Ellison in last year's election and says she plans to run against him again in his heavily Democratic Minneapolis district. So far, she's pulled in less than $3,000.
Tim Walz -
We've asked the 1st District DFL Congressman's campaign for an update but haven't heard back yet. UPDATE:
Walz's campaign announced that the 1st District Congressman raised $380,000 for his reelection. He'll need it, as Republicans have repeatedly tried to oust the DFLer since Walz first took the seat in 2006. Walz has $397,000 on hand.
A quick note on why these numbers matter. Fundraising shows how much support candidates have and what kind of resources they'll be able to deploy during their campaigns. Further, we can tell from the mix of small donors and large donors whether the candidate has a lot of interest from the grassroots versus wealthier donors who can write big checks.
We'll do more in-depth analysis over the coming weeks.(1 Comments)
WASHINGTON - Amy Klobuchar's mountain of campaign cash continues to grow. The DFL Senator's campaign says she raised $1.1 million in the past three months
The first term Senator raised about the same amount the previous quarter. She now has a war chest of $3.3 million to fund her re-election, 16 months before Election Day 2012.
Last quarter, Klobuchar had $2.5 million in cash on hand, suggesting that her campaign spent $300,000 in the past three months. More details will be available after July 15, when the campaign is required to file details with the Federal Election Commission.
Klobuchar's fundraising has had a whimsical element to it. Last month, she held an event for donors at a performance of Glee, the musical, in Washington, DC.
Klobuchar's growing campaign bank account, and her sky-high job approval rating, appears to have dissuaded many Republicans from declaring a run against her.
So far, former state Rep. Dan Severson is Klobuchar's only declared Republican opponent.
WASHINGTON - Many of Minnesota's candidates for federal office are bombarding email inboxes today, looking for a last-minute rush of campaign contributions before a federal filing deadline at midnight tonight.
Presidential contenders such as Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty are trying to prove their viability as strong, national candidates in the GOP nomination process, something made much easier by an impressive fundraising haul.
"They'll stop at nothing to defeat me," was the title of one such email from Bachmann's presidential campaign. In case you were wondering, the "they" in Bachmann's email refers to "Barack Obama's campaign machine" that will "use the numbers we report not only as a sign of our campaign's strength, but also a sign of the strength of our conservative values."
Judging from the traffic of fundraising emails in my inbox, Pawlenty has not sought smaller donors as aggressively as Bachmann, even as media reports suggest that his campaign is struggling to raise funds.
Pawlenty's latest appeal was delivered Tuesday after a foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. Riffing on a theme from the speech, the email asked, "Will you join me to stop President Obama's defeatist attitude and return America back to its rightful leadership role?"
In case it's not clear, "join" in this context means "give."
Congressional candidates are also shaking the money tree. Incumbents like to post strong numbers early in the election cycle to scare off potential opponents.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz has challenged his supporters to give $50,000 before the midnight deadline. The three-term congressman's 1st District is a prime GOP target and Walz has been tapped for extra support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to help him hold the seat.
His fundraising numbers this quarter will likely be strong, especially since he took part in four Washington, DC events this quarter, each with a suggested minimum contribution of $1,000.
Freshman Republican Chip Cravaack posted weak fundraising numbers in the first quarter but lately he's been aggressively courting small donors via email (likely with the help of email lists he purchased from Bachmann).
One such recent email asked, "Who pays attention to FEC reports?" The answer: "Washington is filled with liberal lobbyists whose only job is to scour these reports, find first-term Republicans who haven't raised much, and send big campaign checks to their opponents."
For challengers, a strong showing might tilt party support in their direction.
DFLer Tarryl Clark, who was defeated by Bachmann in the 6th District congressional race last year, has her sights set on defeating Cravaack in the 8th District next year. Clark is a proven fundraiser who pulled in nearly $5 million in her race against Bachmann.
"Why is it important to raise money this early?" asks Clark's latest appeal. In Clark's case, it might be because the St. Cloud resident has relocated to Duluth in order to challenge Cravaack and she will need to prove her worth in a crowded field of DFL contenders, most with stronger ties to the 8th District.
Another DFL candidate who's gunning for Cravaack's job is Duluth City Councilor Jeff Anderson. Entitled "Midnight Tonight," Anderson's most recent email says midnight, "marks the first quarterly FEC fundraising deadline since Rep. Cravaack cast his radical vote to end Medicare - and the world is watching our response."
A new poll shows U.S. Sen Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., continues to rank as one of the most popular Senators in the nation and is in good position for a re-election bid in 2012.
Public Policy Polling released results today that found 61 percent of state voters approve of Klobuchar's job performance, while 28 percent disapprove. That's up slightly from a PPP poll last December that found a 59-29 spread.
The poll also found Klobuchar leading five potential Republican challengers in head-to-head matchups. She leads former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, 54-41; Rep. Michele Bachmann, 57-37; 2010 Attorney General nominee Chris Barden, 57-30; State Sen. Dave Thompson, 55-28; and the only announced candidate so far, former State Rep. Dan Severson, 56-28.
PPP surveyed 1,179 Minnesota voters through automated telephone interviews May 27-30. The margin of sampling error is +/-2.9%.(2 Comments)
Posted at 10:03 PM on May 16, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate
Republican Dan Severson launched a campaign for U.S. Senate today against incumbent DFLer Amy Klobuchar. Severson is a former state Representative and a former Navy pilot. Standing on the state Capitol steps, Severson talked about rising gas prices, problems with unemployment and the increasing national debt. He did not mention Klobuchar's name and instead broadly blamed Democrats in Washington for the nation's problems.
"Minnesota families are struggling to make ends meet," Severson said. "The solutions coming from the White House and U.S. Senate is more government control and increasing the debt limits on the backs of our children and our grandchildren."
Klobuchar was elected in 2006. She ended the first quarter of this year with more and $2.5 million in campaign cash. Severson said he thought he would need between $9 to $12 million for his Senate campaign. He also said if he failed to win the GOP endorsement, he would drop out of the race. Severson ran unsuccessfully last year for Secretary of State.
Note: A special thanks to MPR's Mark Zdechlik who shot the video, recorded audio, took pictures and wrote a story on Severson's announcement. This is proof that political reporters are forced to juggle several things at events like this. For those wondering, he's the person to the left of Severson.
Former state Rep. Dan Severson was seen at the State Capitol today with a film crew. Severson, who lost his Secretary of State run in 2010 to Democrat Mark Ritchie, didn't tell MPR News why he was with a film crew earlier this morning. Instead he said he was going to make an announcement on Monday on the steps of the State Capitol. It's expected that Severson is going to make a run for the U.S. Senate. A Draft Dan Severson for U.S. Senate was created on Facebook.
He also told the AP last month that he was seriously thinking about making a run against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar.(6 Comments)
State Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, says he's considering a run for the U.S. Senate against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Thompson, a first term lawmaker who serves as Assistant Majority Leader, says several Republicans have approached him about a possible run. He said he won't make a final decision until the legislative session is over on May 23rd.
"You would have to get going relatively soon," Thompson said. "I would make that decision within a reasonably short time after session ends."
Thompson, a former radio host, said he intends to challenge Klobuchar's record and her support of President Obama if he decides to run.
"It would take a very strong effort to beat her," Thompson said. "I think the largest problem that she has is she is a supporter of an administration that has taken us to a level of deficits and national debt that most people consider unacceptable."
Thompson is the latest Republican to be mentioned as a possible challenger to Klobuchar but no one has officially announced a campaign against her. Klobuchar has high approval ratings in the state and is well financed. She's also considered one of the strongest Democratic incumbents to be running in 2012.
The blog, Political Party Time, says DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar will hold a fundraiser at the Glee! Live in Concert show at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. in June. Klobuchar is asking attendees to pay $2,000 to attend the event - roughly $1900 more than the asking price for a ticket to the event.
Republicans in Minnesota are working to find a candidate to challenge DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar in 2012. But some of the bigger names aren't willing to get into the race. Former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman announced yesterday that he isn't running for the seat.
Few candidates have made appearances at GOP events. That's typically the first step for people who want to test the waters for a possible run. Only Harold Shudlick, who lost the GOP endorsement to Mark Kennedy in 2006, was seen actively campaigning for the post at last December's MNGOP meeting.
Many higher profile candidates are spending more time telling reporters to take their names off the 2012 list.
"I didn't decide not to run for my House seat, just to immediately find another office to run for," Former GOP state Rep. Laura Brod wrote to me in an e-mail. "I am not a candidate for US senate in 2012."
Former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, who lost the GOP endorsement for governor in 2010, wrote on Twitter that he's not running either.
"I just got off the phone with Roll Call magazine confirming that I will not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012 or 2014."
GOP state Sen. Julie Rosen also said she heard her name surface as a possible candidate, but she says she's leaning against it.
"I'm honored with the recommendation but at this point, No, I would not be interested in running against Sen. Klobuchar," Rosen said.
Another legislator, GOP state Sen. David Hann, says he's more focused on the legislative session than a run for the U.S. Senate.
"I'm not ruling out anything but I'm not making any plan at this point because I'm not thinking about anything beyond the state budget and how to get that done."
One person who may be considering a run in 2012 is Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. Stanek said, "no comment," when asked if he was thinking about running against Klobuchar. Several people close to Stanek tell me, however, that he doesn't want to take anything off the table at this point. They say Stanek is more interested in a run for governor in 2014. (Update: Stanek says he's not interested in running in 2012).
In fact, a lot of Republicans are looking at 2014. That's when DFL Sen. Al Franken is up for reelection. Franken barely won his seat in 2008 and as many political insiders know, his approval ratings are lower than Klobuchar's numbers. Take for example, Ron Schutz. Here's the response I got when I asked the attorney with Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi if he was interested in running for Senate.
"Which year?" Schutz said jokingly.
Schutz said a 2014 run for U.S. Senate is a better option for him. He says he'll be 59 at that time and may be more willing to take another step in his career.
"I have not said 'No way in hell will I ever do this, but a lot of circumstances would have to change before I put my hat in the ring in 2012."
Another person mentioned as a possible candidate against Klobuchar is Bill Guidera, a lobbyist for News Corp. Guidera could not be reached for a comment.
Minnesota Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton says he's not worried that a candidate hasn't emerged yet. He said he's had private meetings with several potential candidates and has been "very aggressive" in finding a candidate to challenge Klobuchar.
"There are people definitely weighing their options," Sutton said. "It's only February of the off year. We have plenty of time. I think you'll start to see people emerge here and bubble up in the next 60 to 90 days, and it would be a very vigorous contest."
Sutton said he thinks a candidate will still have time to campaign and raise money if he or she announces by the summer. Sutton insisted that Klobuchar is vulnerable. He called her support "a mile wide and an inch deep."
Klobuchar has been keeping relatively quiet on the political front as she waits to see who her potential opponent may be. She downplayed any talk of 2012 and who she may face in that election.
"We just got done with an election two months ago in Minnesota," Klobuchar said. "I think people truly want us to focus on what we need to do. We are just done with one. I'm just focused on the people of the state of Minnesota. I'm going to keep doing that and politics will eventually rear it's head but right now it's time to work for Minnesota."
One wild card in this race is GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann. Bachmann, who appears to be gearing up for a run for the White House, could make a run for the U.S. Senate instead. Bachmann is a solid fundraiser and has high name recognition. One problem for her is that a recent poll shows her well behind Klobuchar.(6 Comments)
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar released a statement today on why she's supporting a bill that would extend Bush era tax cuts for another two years. The Senate got the sixty votes needed to move the bill ahead for the full vote.
Here's the release from Klobuchar:
"I am voting to move forward with this bill because we cannot afford to sock the middle class with an average $3,000 tax increase at this time. While I voted for and strongly favor allowing the tax rates for the wealthiest Americans to go back to the Clinton levels, the middle class benefits of this bill outweigh the parts I disagree with. I will continue to work to include provisions both in this bill and next year that focus on a long-term plan to responsibly reduce the deficit."(1 Comments)
Public Policy Polling released a poll today that asked Republicans in Minnesota about two key contests in 2012.
The poll found that 36% of those polled want GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann to challenge DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar in 2012. That's higher than Gov. Tim Pawlenty (20%), former Sen. Norm Coleman (14%), GOP Rep.-elect Chip Cravaack (7%), Tom Emmer (6%), GOP Rep. John Kline (5%), outgoing GOP state Rep. Laura Brod (4%) and GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen (2%).
The poll also finds that the Republicans polled prefer Gov. Tim Pawlenty as their choice for the nominee for President in 2012.
On the Presidential front in the state Pawlenty continues to lead but with a tepid 24%. For sake of comparison Mitt Romney polled at 47% in his home state two weeks ago. Sarah Palin is second in the state at 17%, followed by Mike Huckabee with 15%, Romney with 13%, and Newt Gingrich with 11%. Leading the second tier is Ron Paul at 9%, with John Thune at 3% and Mitch Daniels at 2%.
You can read more about the poll here.(1 Comments)