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In Minnesota

Will Republican voters return 7th District DFL Rep. Collin Peterson to Washington on the strength of his ties to agriculture? (MPR News)

The PoliGraph runs lots of numbers on the Dayton administration’s claim that insurance rates on MNsure will rise only 4.5 percent. (MPR News)

Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson is adding a few more specifics to his plan to hire an outside auditor to examine the effectiveness of state programs. (MPR News)

The U.S. Senate race now features a dispute about whether the McFadden campaign’s headwear was made in China. (Pioneer Press)

A Republican state representative from Elk River pleaded guilty in August to driving while intoxicated shortly after he was arrested driving 80 miles per hour on Interstate 94 in Maple Grove. (Star Tribune)

The Republican Party of Minnesota is defending it use of a campaign mailer that has been denounced by Minnesota House DFL leaders and anti-drunk driving advocates. (MPR News)

Medical marijuana advocates are letting voters know how Minnesota’s gubernatorial candidates view their issue, just five days before the election. (MPR News)

National Politics

Governors of both parties are struggling to define public health policies for the Ebola virus, leaving a confusing patchwork of rules regarding monitoring, restricting and quarantining health care workers who have treated Ebola patients, whether domestically or abroad. (New York Times)

The Wall Street Journal looks at how Democrats have been losing support from white, working class voters and uses Minnesota’s 8th District as its primary example. (Wall Street Journal)

The Obama administration watered down its threatened crackdown on for-profit colleges, loosening tough sanctions under heavy political pressure from the industry and members of Congress from both parties. (Politico)

It turns out midterms have been bad for the President’s party since the Civil War. (NPR)

Patrick McClellan, a medical marijuana patient/advocate, criticizes Gov. Mark Dayton for not signing a pledge to expand the state’s new medical marijuana law. Tim Pugmire / MPR News

Medical marijuana advocates are letting voters know how Minnesota’s gubernatorial candidates view their issue, just five days before the election.

The group Minnesotans for Compassionate Care asked five candidates for a commitment to expand the state’s new medical marijuana law next year to include more patients. Republican candidate Jeff Johnson, Hannah Nicollet of the Independence Party, Libertarian Party candidate Chris Holbrook and Chris Wright of the Grassroots Party all signed the pledge. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton did not.

“We’re really very disappointed that he did not sign it,” said the group’s executive director Heather Azzi today at a news conference.

Several medical marijuana patients took turns criticizing the governor for not signing the pledge and for supporting only a limited bill last session. Patrick McClellan of Bloomington said he voted for Dayton four years ago, but he’s not sure he’ll do it again.

“I believe that Gov. Dayton looked to law enforcement and not science when deciding which conditions would be covered by the new program, and because of that, thousands of people will continue to suffer needlessly,” McClellan said.

The group highlighted positions that have been known since the general election ballot was set.

Dayton has said he wants to see the new law fully implemented before considering any expansion. He told reporters today that it’s premature to talk about proposed legislation on any topic.

“I’ve told every group that wants to talk to me about legislation you’re going to have to wait until after the election,” Dayton said.

Dayton also said no one personally contacted him about signing the pledge. A spokesman for his campaign later said they received the group’s request late Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Republican candidate Jeff Johnson said that expanding the medical marijuana law is not a priority, but he would support it.

“They came up with something that helps some people, which I think is great,” Johnson said. “But it didn’t help enough people. It didn’t help as many people as we could have.”

Johnson stressed that he would want tight controls on an expanded law to prevent it from becoming a back door to recreational use.

The Republican Party of Minnesota is defending it use of a campaign mailer that has been denounced by Minnesota House DFL leaders and anti-drunk driving advocates.

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The mailer, which has been showing up in several competitive House districts, accuses DFL incumbents of letting “dangerous drunk drivers get back on the road.” It refers to legislation passed earlier this year to allow convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlock devices in their cars.

In a news release today, state GOP officials said the law “weakens penalties for people convicted of causing catastrophic damage to other people while driving drunk and lets them back on the road a whole year sooner.”

The release also accused the DFL of using “sensational imagery” and “disgusting content” in mailings against Republican candidates. GOP leaders said the DFL mailings depict a candidate holding a weapon and breaking into a home, a clenched fist in front of a cowering child and a person sharpening a straight razor.

They attached these small, close-up shots of parts of the mailings, not the full documents:

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The Republican response followed a House DFL news conference on the ignition interlock criticism. Jon Cummings, the founder of Minnesotans for Safe Driving, told reporters that the GOP ad wrongly politicizes a bipartisan issue. He said ignition interlocks are making Minnesota roads safer.

“Nobody has to die from this,” Cummings said. “We’ve got an initiative in Minnesota called TZD, Toward Zero Deaths, and we’re heading that way. The last think we want to do is turn around and go back the other way. To use this for political gain is just plain wrong.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving also supports the interlock law.

Republicans have not yet responded to criticism of their separate mailing about recent changes in the state expungement law.