St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg  is accusing  businessman Mike McFadden of dodging issues in the Republican race to find a challenger to run against DFL Sen. Al Franken this fall.

At a state Capitol news conference Thursday morning,  Dahlberg said McFadden owes Minnesotans specific answers to questions about the issues.

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Chris Dahlberg.  Mark Zdechlik/ MPR News

“I’ve been stunned by his disregard for the intelligence of the people in our state.,” Dahlberg said. “He has consistently been unwilling or unable to answer even the simplest questions about where he stands on issues.”

Citing convention delegates, the McFadden campaign turned the criticism back on Dahlberg.

“They are sick and tired of Republican candidates beating each other up,” said McFadden campaign spokesman  Tom Erickson. “Our campaign is focused on defeating Sen. Franken, and we’d encourage the other Republican candidates to do the same.”

Dahlberg defended his criticism.

“I realize some may say that by pointing out Mr. McFadden’s evasiveness, I’m breaking Reagan’s rule about not personally attacking fellow Republicans.,” said Dahlberg. “There’s nothing personal about this, and I will never personally attack Mr. McFadden, Senator Franken or any other candidate. I am simply questioning why someone who wishes to represent Minnesotans has difficulty with public questions about the issues. And that’s fair game”

Dahlberg also criticised McFadden for not pledging to abide by the GOP endorsement.

Minnesota Republicans meet for their state convention at the end of May, but a hard-fought primary battle will likely be needed to determine the eventual GOP nominee to take on Franken in November.

Welcome to your Daily Digest.

Minnesota:

In the Senate, lawmakers passed new employment protections for women. (MPR News)

Minnesota lawmakers want to improve how English learners are taught in public schools. (MPR News)

One of the claims in a new ad paid for by GOP Senate hopeful Mike McFadden comes very close to being false. (MPR News)

Pressure builds on medical marijuana legislation. (MPR News)

A mix-up means another delay for the southwest light rail project. (MPR News)

MNsure numbers surpass 200,000. (MPR News)

Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, is being sued by a former boyfriend she accused of stalking. (AP via Star Tribune)

Republicans are upset that the state revenue department sent out a letter saying the Gov. Dayton signed a tax cut bill. (AP via Pioneer Press)

Washington:

Bob Dole says the GOP is more conservative than it used to be. The Washington Post says he’s right. (Washington Post)

Jeb Bush says he’s thinking about a White House run. (Politico)

Political ads, from the controversial to the plain weird. (The New York Times)

I missed this mention of Sen. Amy Klobuchar yesterday, and maybe you did, too. (The New York Times)

Rep. John Kline wants the White House to keep more than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan. (Star Tribune)

With her 7-month-old son Anthony Bryan riding, Gerri Hoffman documented the Yes we Cannabis! rally to legalize marijuana in Minnesota at the state Capitol in St. Paul, Minn. Wednesday, April 23, 2014.  Jeffrey Thompson/MPR News

Supporters of legal marijuana packed the Minnesota Capitol rotunda today.

Lawmakers are debating a bill that would legalize marijuana for medical purposes, but members of Minnesota’s Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws are pushing a much broader effort – full legalization of marijuana.

No bills have been introduced this session to legalize marijuana but Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, told the rally she supports it to increase state revenue and reduce arrests for possession.

“Let’s create a system right here at this Capitol where we can tax, where we can regulate the sales and increase the revenue at the state of Minnesota so we can invest more wisely in all of us.”

Backers of medical marijuana were careful to distance themselves from the rally.

“The larger legalization effort is distracting from what we’re proposing to do,” said Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis. “The focus of this bill is very much on people who are ill and suffering from very chronic symptoms, conditions and diseases and have no relief available to them now.”

But Nathan Ness, organizing director for Minnesota’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana laws, said there’s no reason to limit marijuana use to people who need it for medical reasons.

“We’re rescuing the issue back from the strictly medical community. We don’t want this thing to be controlled by pharmaceutical companies and lobbyists from DC,” he said. “When you actually go around the state and talk to people, they do support full legalization.”

Both groups are at odds with police and prosecutors who don’t want to increase access to marijuana.

A Senate committee is scheduled to debate the medical marijuana bill on Friday.