The group, We are Minnesota, is running radio ads and sending out campaign mailings in competitive legislative districts and across Minnesota. The group has not reported any fundraising activity during 2012 (the most recent year reports are required to be filed) but reports show that the group’s treasurer is MN AFL-CIO Secretary/Treasurer Steve Hunter, and it lists its address as the MN AFL-CIO office. MN AFL-CIO spokesman Chris Shields said a coalition of labor unions and progressive groups are funding the campaign. He wouldn’t disclose where the ads are running or how much the group is spending on the campaign.
Some of the ads have run on behalf of Rep. Jay McNamar, DFL-Elbow Lake, Rep. Patti Fritz, DFL-Faribault and Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby. The ads (listen below) praise the candidates for raising taxes on top earners and spending the money on schools, higher education, lowering property taxes and job creation.
“We’re giving credit where credit is due on the great work that Minnesota House DFLers did this session and making sure their constituents know about it,” Shields wrote in an e-mail to MPR News.
The ad campaign is a sign that the unions and others are working to showcase what Democrats accomplished in the past legislative session. But Republicans say the ad campaign is a sign that labor unions are working to reward DFL lawmakers for passing union friendly bills.
“We’re seeing the union’s efforts to maintain their Democratic majority so it can continue to exact its agenda into the future,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa.
The unions aren’t the only ones to run ads this year. Business groups, backed by the Minnesota Business Partnership and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, spent several hundred thousand dollars on an ad campaign criticizing Gov. Dayton’s tax hike proposal. United for Jobs ran the TV and radio ads in April.
Here’s audio from one of the We are MN radio ads: