Good morning!

In Minnesota

First Lady Michelle Obama rallied Democrats at a get out the vote rally in Minneapolis. (MPR News)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden has urged the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its replacement with a series of state-based reforms. But experts say much of what McFadden proposes has been tried before and left millions of Americans without health insurance. (MPR News)

A look at GOP gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson’s time as the sole Republican on the Hennepin County Board. (MinnPost)

The PoliGraph examines some of Johnson’s numbers on state spending. (MPR News)

The minor party candidates for governor may have a long shot to the Governor’s Office but they’ve also trying to raise the visibility of their issues. (MPR News)

National Democrats are putting another $1 million into defending their seats in the 7th and 8th Congressional Districts. (National Journal)

In the 7th District, the DFL says Republican candidate Torrey Westrom took advantage of per diem payments and expense reimbursements while serving in the legislature. (Star Tribune)

The 6th District candidates for Congress debated on Tuesday, with DFLer Joe Perske attacking Republican Tom Emmer for being “divisive.” (AP via MPR News)

National Politics

Both parties are banking on early voters this election. (NPR)

Despite being outraised by Democratic super PACs all year long, the top conservative groups played to a draw in September and are in a strong position to continue matching — and possibly surpassing — their rivals leading up to Election Day. (Politico)

Energy and environmental issues are becoming popular fodder for political ads this year. (New York Times)

Anti-war Democrats, including 8th District Rep. Rick Nolan, appear to have weathered attacks on them by the GOP for their opposition to airstrikes against ISIS. (Politico)

RIP Ben Bradlee, the editor of the Washington Post during the Watergate investigation. (Washington Post)

PoliGraph: MisleadingIn their fourth head-to-head debate, Republican candidate Jeff Johnson criticized Gov. Mark Dayton for needlessly ramping up state spending during the last four years of his tenure.

“We have increased spending in this state in the last four years from $30 billion to almost $40 billion dollars. In four years. That is not sustainable and it certainly suggests to me that we are not short of money,” Johnson said.

This is a tricky claim to sort out because there are different ways to look at state spending.

The Evidence

If Johnson is elected governor, he says he wants to reform Minnesota’s tax code because other nearby states have lower taxes.

Johnson argues that the state doesn’t need the extra money because spending has increased by billions over the last four years.

By one measure he’s right about the amount of the spending increase, but if you look deeper you’ll find that the increase isn’t quite as much as Johnson claims.

According to Minnesota Management and Budget, state general fund spending increased from $29 billion in the 2010-2011 biennium to roughly $35 billion in the 2012-2013 fiscal year. The most recent budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 increased state spending to $39.5 billion.

But Johnson’s claim masks spending that was essentially hidden in the final budget of Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s administration – right around the time Pawlenty launched his bid for president.

In fact, spending for fiscal year 2010-2011 was more like $33 billion for the biennium if you count a one-time $2.3 billion windfall in federal stimulus money and a delay of   $1.9 billion in payments to schools – an accounting trick used to balance the budget.

That said, Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature used similar accounting tools to balance the 2012-2013 budget, delaying more money for schools into the next biennium and issuing bonds against future tobacco settlement payments.

That’s the budget that ultimately ended the state’s government shutdown. At the time, Republicans and Democrats argued over how much the state was spending; Republicans picked the lower number of $34 billion, while Democrats said it was more like $35 billion, which reflected the costs of shifting school payments and the tobacco bonds.

The Verdict

If you ignore two accounting tricks that made spending look lower than it was three budget cycles ago, Johnson is correct that state spending increased by $10 billion in four years.

But $2.3 billion in federal dollars and a $1.9 billion spending shift is hard to ignore, and including them in Pawlenty’s last budget bumps state spending up to $33 billion.

And that means state spending has increased by about $7 billion in the last four years. That’s a big number, but not as big as the one Johnson used.

For picking the higher number – and leaving out some key details about budget gimmicks used by the previous administration – Johnson’s claim leans toward misleading.

Good morning!

In Minnesota

Federal law enforcement officials are taking an ISIL threat against Michele Bachmann so seriously that Capitol Police have given the 6th District GOP congresswoman her own security detail. (MPR News)

Will the Minnesota GOP field a ground operation to turn out voters that’s comparable to the DFL’s? (Star Tribune)

Former U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton will headline a free rally in St. Paul with U.S. Sen. Al Franken and Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday afternoon. (Star Tribune)

The U.S. Senate race is tightening…to a 15 point lead for Sen. Al Franken, according to a new poll. (KSTP)

Sparks flew on the subject of voter ID at a forum for Secretary of State candidates. (MPR News)

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords visited Minneapolis for a roundtable discussion centered on possible new laws to protect women and families from gun violence. (WCCO)

Ad Watch

The Alliance for a Better Minnesota is out with a major ad campaign against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden (MPR News)

McFadden’s daughter stars in an ad to tell voters why her father would be a good senator. (YouTube)

DFL State Auditor Rebecca Otto (YouTube)

Fuels America, a biofuels trade group, is up with radio ads backing DFL Sen. Al Franken and DFL Rep. Collin Peterson (SoundCloud)

National Politics

President Barack Obama sees the midterm elections as a “nail-biter,” with control of the Senate hinging on just a few races. (Politico)

Parts of Iowa are becoming more liberal while other parts are becoming more conservative as one of the bellwether states of American politics undergoes a major demographic shift. (New York Times)

Will Latinos sit out the midterms to punish Democrats for not making more headway on immigration reform? (LA Times)

Tom Steyer, a Democratic billionaire concerned about climate change, has passed Republican casino owner Sheldon Adelson as the biggest donor to super PACs. (New York Times)