Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson held  a news conference to criticize Gov. Dayton over his handling of MNsure and the  state’s sex offender program. Tom Scheck/MPR News

Republican Jeff Johnson says DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s recent handling of the health insurance exchange MNsure and the state’s sex offender program show why he should be removed from office.

During an afternoon news conference, Johnson harkened back to rhetoric he used during the Republican primary, calling Dayton “incompetent.”

“Mark Dayton is not competent to lead this state,” Johnson said. “We have seen it in the last 24 hours in two ways unlike anything we have seen before.”

Johnson’s news conference came just hours after PreferredOne announced it would no longer offer coverage through MNsure. The HMO has the largest number of customers in MNsure and offered the lowest rates.

Johnson said it was just the latest example of dysfunction at the health insurance exchange.

“Six out of 10 Minnesotans who have gone through the nightmare of trying to get insurance through the MNsure exchange learned this morning that they’re going to have to go through that same nightmare all over again,” Johnson said.

Johnson and other Republicans have been hammering Dayton and Democrats on MNsure. Over the past year, the website was plagued by crashes and long waits for people seeking insurance, and the organization’s top executive resigned.

Johnson said if he is elected he will work to remove the entire MNsure board and fire top MNsure executives. He also said he would petition the federal government to exempt Minnesota from the federal program.

Dayton has called MNsure the “biggest disappointment of his first term,” but said the website is working better. He also praised the program after a study found that the state’s rate of people without health insurance dropped dramatically after the exchange began operating.

As for PreferredOne’s decision, Dayton issued this statement:

“MNsure is a marketplace, where insurers price their products to compete for business. A year ago, PreferredOne chose to offer its coverage at rates well below other plans on MNsure, and gained significant market share from doing so. The question now is whether PreferredOne can afford to continue to offer such low rates. If not, its continued participation in MNsure would distort the Exchange’s average rates, which last year were the lowest in the nation.”

Johnson also criticized Dayton for his administration’s handling of the possible release of a convicted rapist who is currently in the Minnesota Sex Offender Treatment program.

Thomas Duvall was appealing his commitment in the program to a judicial panel, a move backed in 2013 by Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and a review board within her agency.

But Duvall dropped that petition this week after Jesson reversed course and opposed his release.

Johnson criticized the Dayton Administration over how it handled the case.

“This matter was so mismanaged without any regard for the victims or the victim’s families of this guy that it just takes your breath away,” Johnson said.

Dayton has not said anything publicly regarding the about-face. Jesson issued a statement saying her goal is to protect public safety while maintaining the rights of clients.

“ I review these cases carefully, taking into consideration criminal history, the evaluation of our clinical staff and the review of numerous independent experts,” Jesson said. “In the case of Thomas Duvall, I changed my position based on new information and recently issued expert reports. The court determines how much of that information is public.”

A federal judge is weighing whether the sex offender program violates the constitutional rights of the 697 people indefinitely held in Moose Lake and St. Peter. Most have served their prison sentences.

Dayton dropped efforts to change the program earlier this year because there wasn’t bipartisan agreement on the issue. Johnson said Dayton was unwilling to step up and lead.

Johnson, however, offered little in terms of a solution.

He said he supports life sentences without parole for the most violent sex offenders. Johnson added that he would sit down with Republicans and Democrats to come up with a solution to solve the problem of patients currently in the program.

There was one issue where Dayton and Johnson agree.

They both say Vikings running back Adrian Peterson should not play in any games until the legal situation involving allegations of abuse of his son is resolved.

Vikings owners announced earlier this week that Peterson will play on Sunday.

WASHINGTON – It seems that Amy Klobuchar has taken a real liking to Iowa.

The Iowa Democratic Party announced Tuesday that Minnesota’s senior senator will be headlining the party’s big Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner on Oct. 25, just a week and a half before midterm elections.

“We invited Senator Klobuchar because she’s a great speaker and a strong advocate for our candidates,” Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan said in a statement.

It’s at least Klobuchar’s fourth visit to Minnesota’s southern neighbor (and, ahem, a key presidential campaign state) in less than two years. Last month, Klobuchar campaigned for Senate candidate Bruce Braley.

In April, she spoke at the University of Iowa. In August 2013, Klobuchar spoke at a party fundraiser in Clear Lake, Iowa.

While former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton appears likely to run for President in 2016, Klobuchar’s name has come up frequently as a potential candidate should Clinton decide not to run.

At the Minnesota State Fair this summer Klobuchar deflected questions about running for higher office and said she is focused on her current job.

Good morning!

In Minnesota

The Minnesota DFL launched a $1 million television ad buy with a spot that targets Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson for voting to cut education spending. (MPR News)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate MiKe McFadden is out with an ad claiming DFL Sen. Al Franken doesn’t want to debate him just as Franken’s campaign has agreed to three debates. (MPR News)

With less than two months to go before Election Day, more than half of Minnesotans believe the state’s economy is in better shape now than four years ago, according to a new poll from the Star Tribune. (Star Tribune)

A look at the diverse communities in the 8th Congressional District, where Minnesota’s most hard-fought U.S. House race is underway. (Duluth News Tribune)

Sarah Palin has endorsed Republican Tom Emmer, who’s running to replace Rep. Michele Bachmann in the 6th Congressional District. (Facebook)

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton welcomes concessions offered by the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority chairman but said future actions will speak louder than words in settling differences over the project. (Pioneer Press)

National Politics

House Republicans want to keep the Obama administration on a short leash when it comes to arming and training Syrian rebels. (Politico)

After a generation of campaigns in which Republicans exploited wedge issues to win close elections, Democrats are now on the offensive in the culture wars. (New York Times)

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who’s now a bank lobbyist, is backing down from an election-style campaign against the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after complaints from the firms he represents. (Bloomberg News)

The number of uninsured Americans fell by about 8 percent to 41 million people in the first quarter of this year. (New York Times)

“The available music options are Light Classical, Environmental, Patriotic and Country.” (Washington Post)