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The Capitol Note: Kurt Zellers announces $403,000 haul for 2013

Mike Mullen//January 24, 2014

The Capitol Note: Kurt Zellers announces $403,000 haul for 2013

Mike Mullen//January 24, 2014

GOP Rep. Kurt Zellers collected from more than 4,000 donors. (staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)
GOP Rep. Kurt Zellers collected from more than 4,000 donors. (staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

1.) The wait for Kurt Zellers‘ fundraising figures is over, at least in terms of the top-line numbers. The Maple Grove legislator and former House speaker announced that he raised $403,000 during 2013, giving him the second-highest total among GOP gubernatorial candidates after Scott Honour‘s $500,000-plus figure. Zellers raised that amount from a total of 4,166 donors, according to a press release; the release does not spell out how many of the people cutting checks to the campaign live in Minnesota. The campaign said Zellers had  “far out-raised candidates not dependent on their personal wealth,” a rather obvious reference to Honour, whose campaign has refused to clarify whether the businessman contributed any of his own money toward his total haul. That assertion drew a quick, tweeted response from Honour campaign staffer (and former Republican Party of Minnesota chairman) Pat Shortridge, who said the claim is “factually inaccurate.”

2.) A group of legislators has penned a letter asking the federal government to help make up for a massive future deficit in MinnesotaCare funding, KSTP reports. The state is projected to have a $1.4 billion shortfall by 2021, though the deficit is expected to first become a factor in 2016.  The letter, which includes the signatures of both Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and House Speaker Paul Thissen, asks U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to adjust that department’s recent change in funding methodology by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Under the new system, they write, Minnesota would be unfairly punished for “decades of health care innovation” intended to help cover low-income individuals and families.

3.) Following a near-miss for House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt earlier this week, another Republican lawmaker has apparently regained the trust of his local GOP chapter. Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, has officially been cleared by the Senate District 35 Republican committee, which last year passed a vote of “no confidence” against the GOP moderate, the Star Tribune reports. The sanction levied against Petersen traces back to his vote in favor of same-sex marriage — the lone affirmative vote in the Republican Senate caucus — though activists said it was more a function of Petersen’s secretive approach to the subject, rather than his vote itself. Now, though, Deputy SD 35 GOP chair Don Huizenga says Petersen has “a lot of other things going for him.” The first-term Senate member seemed relieved to have the issue behind him, and said he hadn’t received a single email about his gay marriage vote for several months.


  • Republican U.S. Sen. Mike McFadden announced the formation of his campaign steering committee on Thursday. Campaign chair Molly Corrigan Cronin will lead the committee, and is joined by GOP activist and former state House of Representatives staffer Jen Niska, who will be vice-chair. Among the dozens of names that make up the body of the committee are several recognizable figures. Former legislators King Banaian and Geoff Michel are members, as are a number of former GOP legislative staffers, including Luke Hellier and Leslie Rosedahl.
  • The Coalition for Impartial Justice hired four new lobbyists from Faegre Baker Daniels to lobby the Legislature on the “Impartial Justice Act,” which would replace the current judicial elections system with retention elections. The addition of four advocates brings the Coalition’s total representation team up to a count of 16 lobbyists.
  • Area Republican activists are holding a day-long event at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls on Saturday. Proceedings in that buildings Imperial Room begin with a 2:00 p.m. presentation from the Minnesota Child Protection Protection League. At 4:00 p.m., GOP gubernatorial and U.S. Senate and congressional candidates have been invited for a meet-and-greet with party activists; at 7:00 p.m., a gubernatorial candidate forum will be held. More information here.
  • Newly minted Faegre Baker Daniels lobbyist Tom Freeman has registered to work for a stable of nine clients, including Target Corp., the Minneapolis Downtown Council and Live Nation Entertainment Inc., the California-based ticket sales company that subsumed TicketMaster. Before landing the new gig in December, Freeman had worked as a campaign organizer for the House Republican caucus, and was committee administrator on the redistricting committee.
  • StudentsFirst, the education advocacy organization founded by activist Michelle Rhee, has registered Veronica Chapel as a lobbyist within the state of Minnesota; Chapel, like that organization, is based out of California. It is her first client on record in this state, and she becomes StudentsFirst’s seventh current lobbyist in Minnesota.

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