Daily Digest: One week until primary

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, and here’s the Digest.

1. CD5 candidates stress experience. The five DFL candidates vying to replace U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison in Congress mostly favored single-payer health care and stronger gun-control measures, such as universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons, during a forum on Monday night. With similar positions on issues, candidates tried to distinguish themselves by touting their experience. Former House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray pointed to their long legislative records, while state Rep. Ilhan Omar, a one-term lawmaker, called for a broader definition of experience that includes a career in civil rights and public policy along with being a millennial, a renter, and someone with student loan debt. (Star Tribune)

2. Swanson camp denies online report. The online news outlet The Intercept cites unidentified staffers who say Attorney General Lori Swanson pressured office staff into working on her campaigns and rewarded those who did with raises and promotions. Swanson is now seeking the DFL nomination for governor. From the piece: It is not illegal for politicians to invite their employees to get involved with their campaigns. However, Minnesota law bars the use of “official authority or influence” to compel employees to engage in political activity. Ruth Stanoch, a spokesperson for Swanson’s campaign, said the allegations are “categorically false” and that additional questions should be directed to the attorney general’s office. A spokesperson from that office, Benjamin Wogsland, told The Intercept that anyone who volunteers on a political campaign must do so own their own personal time, and that “the office does not consider an employee’s participation in the political process or lack thereof in determining raises and promotions.” He declined to answer specific follow-up questions unless The Intercept would name the employees we interviewed. (The Intercept)

3. So you’re going to vote in the primary. A lot of people typically don’t vote in primary elections, but turnout is likely to be higher than normal this year because there are so many contested races. It can be a little embarrassing to admit you don’t know what to expect. For example, no, you don’t have to declare publicly which party you belong to, but you do have to choose a party and stick to it. It’s okay if you have questions. Here’s a  quick video to explain how the whole thing works. (MPR News)

4. Police union head defends Pawlenty mailer. The head of the Minneapolis police union says the appearance of uniformed officers in a Tim Pawlenty campaign ad photo was not improper. Lt. Bob Kroll said the federation frequently endorses candidates for office. Kroll said many of the officers in the photo with Pawlenty are members of the federation’s board. “In any of our endorsements we will give it to them and the candidate can use it however they see fit — including photo opportunities with us, commercials, postcards, flyers — you name it,” said Kroll. In the ad, Pawlenty pledged to enforce immigration laws. The city’s mayor and police chief expressed concerns that message conflicted with the city’s policy, which prohibits officers from acting as agents of federal immigration enforcement. Kroll said Minneapolis police will still adhere to the city’s policy. “Why is the mayor and the Minneapolis City Council so upset about a Republican endorsement?” asked Kroll. “They certainly weren’t upset when we endorsed Dayton the last two terms.” (MPR News)

5. Mike Freeman faces primary for Hennepin County Attorney. It’s been more than a decade since Freeman faced a threat to keep his job as Hennepin County’s chief prosecutor. But fueled by anger over police shootings and racial inequalities countywide, activists have tried to tap into disaffection over his leadership of an office that deals with some of the region’s most polarizing issues, from sexual assaults on college campuses to gun violence to problems with gangs. DFLers endorsed Minneapolis lawyer Mark Haase over Freeman back in May. The new energy around the race not only marks the first major test for Freeman in 12 years. It also illustrates a shift in the DFL Party, as a new form of progressivism shakes up once-sleepy races. Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin also failed to receive the DFL endorsement — the first time that’s happened in 27 years. (MinnPost)

6. How much are outside groups spending for and against candidates? That’s a question we asked ourselves about the races for congress and U.S. Senate this year, so some of the whiz kids in the newsroom cooked up a cool way to keep track. If you’re interested take a look and bookmark this link, because the site will update as the campaign goes on. (MPR News)

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