Good morning!

In Minnesota

The U.S. Senate candidates will debate this morning at 8 AM while candidates for governor will debate this evening at 7:00. MPR News will be live blogging both events. Check back in at www.mprnews.org for the blogs and streaming coverage.

Minnesotans haven’t heard a governor pledge support for the death penalty in over a decade, but if Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson wins in  October  November, that could change. (MPR News)

A new TV ad from the Alliance for a Better Minnesota is critical of Johnson over the minimum wage issue. (Star Tribune)

Both Sen. Al Franken and his Republican opponent Mike McFadden say there’s too much money in politics, but both are using sophisticated fundraising techniques that can give big donors plenty of opportunities to fund their campaigns. (MPR News)

What to look for when Franken and McFadden debate in Duluth today. (MinnPost)

In his re-election fight, Congressman Rick Nolan has an important ally and mentor in fellow Rep. Tim Walz. (Star Tribune)

Minnesota’s 10 member congressional delegation wants a meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald about the status of an internal investigation on whether the Minneapolis VA falsified records about veterans wait times. (MPR News)

Comedian Bill Maher will be in Northfield next Tuesday as part of his attempt to unseat Republican Congressman John Kline. (Northfield News)

State lawmakers heard testimony about congested freight rail service but a solution is likely years away. (MPR News)

National Politics

The head of the Secret Service got a grilling from lawmakers on Capitol Hill about White House security breaches and the agency’s recent series of scandals and missteps. (Washington Post)

Republicans, including Stewart Mills in the 8th District, are criticizing Democrats for voting to raise the debt ceiling, a policy many House Republican, including its leaders voted for. Democrats say Republicans are being hypocritical. (Politico)

Speaker John Boehner is on a stronger footing with the House GOP rank and file than he has been in years. But when the new Congress convenes in January, that won’t stop the party’s anti-Boehner wing from staging another revolt. (Roll Call)

House Republicans have been destined for modest gains in the midterms despite a favorable political environment. Now, just five weeks until Election Day, the party is raising its ambitions, jumping into Democratic strongholds long thought to be beyond the GOP’s reach. The goal: Achieve their biggest House majority since Harry Truman’s presidency. (Politico)

 

WASHINGTON – Minnesota’s 10 member congressional delegation wants a meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald about the status of an internal investigation on whether the Minneapolis VA falsified records about veterans wait times, part of a pattern of behavior congressional investigators have found at other VA health systems around the country.

“We are deeply troubled by serious allegations of falsified records and manipulation of scheduling data at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care System,” said the members in their letter to McDonald.

When news first broke about a similar pattern of behavior at the Phoenix VA, Minnesota members of Congress believed there were no such incidents at the Minneapolis VA Hospital, the state’s largest facility for veterans. Then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned over the incidents and Congress quickly passed legislation boosting funding for VA care and allowing veterans to seek medical care from private providers if wait times at their local VA were too long.

The revelations about the Minneapolis VA were first reported by KARE which found that VA supervisors pressured employees to falsify medical records in order to make the center’s wait time statistics look better than they were. A former Marine died in 2012 from seizures while waiting for an appointment with a VA specialist.

Good morning!

In Minnesota

Republican Mike McFadden and his party have seized on a big number in their efforts to boot Sen. Al Franken from office: 97 percent. (AP via WCCO)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will campaign for Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson in Minnesota next month. (MPR News)

Minnesota 2020, a progressive think tank that DFL politician Matt Entenza founded seven years ago, is shutting its doors.  (Star Tribune)

The Minnesota Professional Fire Fighters union announced that it is backing DFL Gov. Mark Dayton for another term. (MPR News)

National Politics

A top Senate Republican warns that the lame-duck Congress shouldn’t vote to confirm whoever President Obama chooses to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. (Roll Call)

New public polls show Republicans well positioned in three of the key states that could decide control of the Senate. (Politico)

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson will face a grilling from the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday as questions mount about the agency’s ability to protect the first family. (The Hill)

Microsoft is entering the polling business. (New York Times)

Today is the last day for campaigns to raise money before an FEC reporting deadline. Your inbox is probably full of desperate-sounding emails because in an election where America’s political mood is dark, but the potential to raise money is bright, both sides are embracing a simple truth: Pessimism sells. (Politico)