The Daily Digest (Johnson announced bid, Franken challenger and NRA “culture war”)

In Minnesota

Another Republican has put his hat in the ring to challenge Gov. Mark Dayton next year. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson announced his bid on Saturday and says jobs, education and improving government are on his agenda.

The same-sex marriage bill get another hearing in the Minnesota House today. The Ways and Means Committee will evaluate the bill’s fiscal impact on the state.

Meanwhile, another rural Democrat says he’ll back the bill.

Will the proposed tax increases cause people to flee Minnesota for lower-tax states? The Poligraph weighs in with the best available evidence.

Washington/National Politics

As first reported by MPR News last month, Republican businessman Mike McFadden appears to be gearing up to challenge Sen. Al Franken next year, reports Poltico. So far, Franken is running for re-election unchallenged.

In Iowa, Republican Rep. Steve King (a close ally of Michele Bachmann’s) will not run for U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin which Roll Call says “leaves the GOP field wide open” in what could be one of the most competitive Senate races next year.

President Obama delivered a commencement speech at Ohio State on Sunday, urging graduates to ignore “voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity”.

South Carolina holds a special congressional election tomorrow and Republican Mark Sanford’s chances of holding the seat in GOP hands appear to be improving, reports the Washington Post.

Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak was in the Palmetto State over the weekend at the state Democratic Party’s annual fundraiser.

The National Rifle Association’s new president said the organization is involved in a “culture war” with pro-gun control groups and the Obama Administration.

Minnesota-based UnitedHealth is among the biggest health insurers in the country and also covers many members of the armed forces, who have been complaining about their coverage and customer service, including long wait times at call centers. Rep. Tim Walz is asking the company for answers.

The Pentagon is trying to limit religious proselytization within the military’s ranks after complaints from some service members. Conservative Christians are fighting the initiative and Rep. Michele Bachmann has joined in, using the controversy as an opportunity to raise money from supporters.