1.) The DFL Party raised $3.2 million in 2013 and has $288,000 cash on hand, putting the Democratic group well ahead of its Republican counterpart. In a statement announcing the DFL’s fundraising and holdings, party chairman Ken Martin said the current financial position is among the strongest in the party’s history, and pledged that the DFL would be ready to spend on behalf of its statewide and regional candidates later this year. “I am confident that both organizationally and financially, the DFL Party is in a strong position to reelect Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Al Franken, our congressional delegation, and retain the DFL majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives,” Martin said. Earlier this month, the Republican Party of Minnesota announced that it raised $2.5 million last year, but still had $1.17 million in outstanding liabilities. The GOP’s financial clout could be further weakened by a costly primary season, with well-heeled gubernatorial and U.S. Senate candidates expected to run strong primary campaigns. Financial disclosures are due to be filed with the state campaign finance board on Friday.
2.) Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, has called a Capitol press conference for 10:30 a.m. this morning to introduce his running mate choice in the gubernatorial campaign. Thompson’s media advisory did not spell out who the pick might be, but the Associated Press is reporting that he’s chosen Senate Republican caucus colleague Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake. If correct, Thompson looks to be zeroing in on health care topics — and, more specifically, the MNsure insurance exchange — as a central theme of his candidacy: Benson is the GOP lead on the Senate Health, Human Services and Housing Committee, and has been a frequent and outspoken critic of MNsure and its failings. Thompson, who declined to comment on the AP report last night, will be the first Republican candidate to go public with his choice of running mate.
3.) DFL U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson is still undecided on the prospect of running for re-election this year, telling The Hill that he was “going to take some time” to make the decision. Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, was a key player in shepherding the Farm Bill to passage in the House earlier this week. That bill, which makes modest cuts to food stamp and nutritional programs while maintaining most agricultural subsidies, was years in the making, and the effort to pass it seems to have worn on the DFL incumbent, who is now in his 12th term in Congress. “I have been in limbo here, in farm bill hell for three years and it affects you,” he said. Should he decide not to run, Peterson’s seat would instantly be viewed as a likely GOP pick-up, as the district tends to vote Republican outside of his re-election bids. Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, is the lone declared Republican candidate in that district so far.
COMINGS & GOINGS
- Senate District 49 GOP chair Barbara Sutter has announced her intentions to run for the House District 49B seat currently held by Rep. Paul Rosenthal, DFL-Edina. Rosenthal, now in his second, non-consecutive term representing that swing district, won the seat back in 2012 with about 53 percent of the vote.
- Lobbyist Henry Erdman has been retained by the Marijuana Policy Project to lobby the Legislature, meaning that the Washington, D.C.-based group now has four professional advocates on its side. Erdman formerly represented that organization from 2008 through 2010.
- Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-Hopkins, announced Thursday that his Secretary of State campaign has won the endorsement of the Stonewall DFL Caucus, the party’s gay rights-focused wing.
- Fredrikson & Byron lobbyist Leia Simon added seven new clients to her portfolio this week; the new business includes the cities of Minneapolis and Moorhead, AAA Minneapolis and the Minnesota Retail Merchants Association.
- Aging Services of Minnesota brought on two new lobbyists to represent its interests: Joe Sellwood, of the Cook Girard firm, and Bethany Snyder, who joined that organization earlier this week as its new director of government affairs. The pair brings Aging Services of Minnesota up to 13 lobbyists currently on retainer.