WASHINGTON – Former President Bill Clinton is coming to Minnesota next week to rally support for the re-election campaigns of Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken, according to the Minnesota DFL.

The 42nd president will be part of an early voting and get out the vote event at the University of Minnesota on Friday, Oct. 10.

“We are thrilled to have President Clinton back in Minnesota to support Governor Dayton and Senator Franken,” said DFL Chairman Ken Martin in a statement.

Neither Dayton nor Franken’s races have attracted much national attention, and Clinton is one of the few high-profile national political figures to campaign for either candidate. Later this month, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is scheduled to campaign with Republican Jeff Johnson, who’s challenging Dayton.

Clinton’s wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is widely expected to run for president in 2016 and has already secured the support of Dayton, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and several DFL members of the state’s U.S. House delegation.

Good  morning!

In Minnesota

In their first one-on-one debate before the November election, U.S. Sen. Al Franken and his Republican challenger, businessman Mike McFadden, repeatedly took each other to task on domestic policy and foreign affairs. (MPR News)

No candidate seemed to land a knockout punch in the first debate in the race for governor Wednesday night. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, Republican Jeff Johnson and Independence Party candidate Hannah Nicollet sparred over several issues, including the state of the economy. (MPR News)

Take these sorts of polls with many grains of salt: 8th District Democrat Rep. Rick Nolan has an 11 point lead over GOP challenger Stewart Mills according to a poll commissioned by the campaign arm of U.S. House Democrats. (Star Tribune)

Minnesotans will pay an average of 4.5 percent more for health plans offered through MNsure next year. Premiums will be the lowest of any in the nation but the increase for 2015, however, masks some major price swings. (MPR News)

The new rates immediately became fodder for both political parties eager to prove their case about health care. (MPR News)

National Politics

Julia Pierson resigned as Secret Service director on Wednesday after just 1 1/2 years on the job following a series of major security lapses that eroded President Obama’s confidence in her ability to run the agency tasked with protecting him. (Washington Post)

Everyone’s out campaigning this fall. Everyone, that is, except for President Obama. (NPR)

A record number of African Americans are running for federal office this year, but their advances in elected office have been met by increased racial polarization in politics, particularly in the Deep South. (USA Today)

Facing the prospect of a fully Republican Congress for the first time in eight years, GOP strategists are divided over how to advance a central tenet of their political agenda: a simpler U.S. tax code with sharply lower rates. (Washington Post)

 

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton described the new rates for Minnesota’s health insurance exchange as a reason to celebrate, while his Republican critics did not. Tim Pugmire/MPR News

The release today of new 2015 rates for Minnesota’s health insurance exchange did nothing to quiet the ongoing partisan disagreement over MNsure.

Democrats hailed the 4.5 percent average rate increase as proof that free-market competition works, while Republicans called the numbers deceptive.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton weighed in following the Department of Commerce announcement, saying the new MNsure rates are not perfect but very good. He noted that most consumers will have a broader range of coverage options from the five participating insurance companies, as well as additional tax credits to help cover the premiums.

The state’s lowest-cost and largest provider, PreferredOne, announced last month it was dropping out of the exchange.

Still, Minnesota’s rates under the Affordable Care Act are expected to remain the lowest in the nation, according to state officials. Dayton said that ranking is cause for celebration.

“I realize that we’re 34 days before an election. But it is permissible to actually recognize and even applaud good news,” Dayton said.

Republicans were not celebrating.

Dayton’s GOP challenger in next month’s election, Jeff Johnson, criticized the incumbent governor. Johnson said Dayton failed to deliver on a promise to decrease the cost of health insurance for middle-class Minnesotans.

“Middle-class Minnesotans deserve a governor who understands and represents them instead of just paying them lip service,” Johnson said in a written statement.

Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, echoed that charge. Hann also said Minnesotans who are currently enrolled in the lowest cost plan will see a 22 percent increase in their premiums next year.

“I think the 4.5 percent rate increase is completely bogus,” Hann said. “It is deceptive. I think that once the numbers get known, the average amount of increase that the consumer will pay, the actual guy who’s buying the insurance, will be much higher.”