Conservative group targeting DFL legislators on MNsure

Americans for Prosperity-Minnesota is using the troubled MNsure website to try to sway voters in a handful of suburban legislative districts.

“Since its launch last year, ObamaCare has been a disaster. A broken website. Cancelled health insurance. Soaring premiums. Identity theft risk,” reads a flier sent out in four legislative districts on the outskirts of the Twin Cities. “MNsure, the Minnesota ObamaCare Exchange Program, is just as bad!”

It’s a message Americans for Prosperity, which is a national organization founded with financial support from billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch that opposes the Affordable Care Act, will be publicizing across the country this election season.

But John Cooney, AFP-Minnesota’s state director, said the issue has special resonance in Minnesota, where the state’s new health insurance marketplace has had a troubled roll out.

Minnesotans are “disappointed in the mismanagement of a big-government initiative that has led to more consumers losing their insurance than gaining coverage, fewer choices and the very real likelihood that MNSure will have an overwhelming budget shortfall by 2015,” he said.

Cooney said his group has spent roughly $50,000 on 100,000 pieces of mail sent to residents of House District 49B, represented by Rep. Paul Rosenthal, DFL-Edina, House District 48A, represented by Rep. Yvonne Selcer, DFL-Minnetonka, House District 51A, represented by Rep. Sandy Masin, DFL-Eagan, and House District 56B, represented by Rep. Will Morgan, DFL-Burnsville. AFP-Minnesota is a 501(c)4, which means that it can advocate on certain issues without having to disclose its donors.

Rosenthal, Selcer, and Morgan all won their districts by small margins in 2012, while Masin won her race by a relatively comfortable margin of 11.22 percent. All four of them voted in favor of legislation last year that essentially established MNsure. (However, the Dayton administration had already pledged to move forward on creating an exchange regardless of whether the Legislature voted to establish one.)

While those lawmakers may have a tough re-election campaign ahead of them, Cooney added that many of AFP-Minnesota’s newest members live in these areas as well – a sign that voters are “unhappy with the way their legislators are voting.”

Republicans need to pick up seven seats to gain a majority in the state House. Conservative groups like AFP-Minnesota will be focusing their 2014 election resources on these swing districts as a result.