Good morning, and welcome to the month of November and the Thursday before Election Day. Here’s the Digest.
1. Housley and Smith disagree on tax cut. Some business owners say the economy is going great and the Republican-sponsored tax cuts are helping. “I like what the Republicans and President Trump have done for me personally and my business,” said Machine president Mike Yeager. “I will vote for people that support the current administration’s policies.” One of those people is Republican Karin Housley who’s running against DFL Sen. Tina Smith. Housley is a big fan of the Republican tax cut and is convinced that campaigning on it will help her win. “It loosened the noose around our businesses, so they could create more jobs and that’s what we’ve been saying all along,” Housley said. “With fewer regulations and business are free to grow this is exactly what happens.” But Smith has no problem outlining her opposition to the tax legislation that passed weeks before she took Al Franken’s place in the Senate. She said she would not have voted for the bill because it showers wealthy people with tax breaks at the expense of the middle class and will add more than a trillion dollars to the national debt. “It’s not like that money was sitting in a bank somewhere waiting to be passed out,” Smith said. “That’s money that we borrowed from our children and our grandchildren. I do not think that’s responsible.” (MPR News)
2. Third parties team up to try to get to the majors. Call it collusion or a gentleman’s agreement, but three of Minnesota’s minor political parties are working together to climb back into relevance. In the two decades since professional wrestler-turned politician Jesse Ventura jolted Minnesota with a third-party upset win to become governor, Minnesota’s third parties have been relegated to the political doghouse. But three of those parties have agreed to stay out of each other’s way in next week’s election, with hopes of improving their chances of securing the 5 percent of the vote necessary to clinch major party status. The plan involves Minnesota’s Independence, Green and Libertarian parties. Libertarians fielded candidates for governor and state auditor, while the Independence Party took the secretary of state’s race. The Green Party put up a U.S. Senate candidate. As the only two parties with major party status in Minnesota, Democrats and Republicans alone enjoy the benefits of bigger public campaign subsidies and automatic ballot access. Chairs of all three minor parties say if their ploy pays off this year, their paths will be easier in 2020 and 2022, and give Minnesota voters a more visible alternative. “It can work, it should work, and at least for a couple of us, I think it will work,” Independence Party Chairman Phil Fuehrer said. “Third parties traditionally offer relief valves in tense times, and we’re certainly in those now.” (AP)
3. Klobuchar spreads the wealth. Even as she runs for a third term this year in Minnesota, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been spreading donations to Democratic candidates, parties and political action committees around the country. Klobuchar employs what’s known as a leadership PAC to give to fellow Democrats. Her Follow the North Star PAC has donated $337,500 in the current election cycle, aiding Democrats as they try to win back Congress and make other political gains around the country — and start the process of deciding who will take on President Donald Trump in 2020. Members of Congress often create leadership PACs separate from their own individual campaign accounts in order to contribute money to others in the party. It’s a common tool to lay groundwork for higher political aspirations, bigger leadership roles or simply to build capital with colleagues. Minnesota’s senior senator has given $45,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, along with $5,000 each to the state Democratic parties in Iowa, Florida, Pennsylvania, Montana, Indiana, Virginia, Michigan, North Dakota and Rhode Island. And she’s given the maximum donations ($10,000) to more politically vulnerable Midwestern Democrats in states won by Trump: Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Claire McCaskill of Missouri. (Star Tribune)
4. Voters in Ramsey County need to elect a sheriff. The appointed Ramsey County sheriff is seeking a nod from voters against a challenger who spent years in the job. Sheriff Jack Serier and Vadnais Heights Mayor Bob Fletcher have spent much of their careers in law enforcement. Both worked as police officers in St. Paul, steadily moving up the ladder there before heading to the sheriff’s office. Serier, appointed sheriff in January 2017 after Matt Bostrom decided to leave his position to take a job at the University of Oxford, said he has more to do. “There’s a lot of social and philosophical change that I’m working on here in law enforcement here in Ramsey County, and partnering with other people in criminal justice and beyond,” Serier said. Bob Fletcher was first elected sheriff in 1994. He held that position until he lost a re-election bid in 2010. “Public safety has always been my passion. I started there in St. Paul as a young police officer, worked through the ranks and as the juvenile unit commander I found my passion to help kids,” Fletcher said. (MPR News)
5. It could be a long Tuesday night in Wisconsin. It’s Wisconsin. Of course the race for governor is in a dead heat. With Wednesday’s Marquette University Law School Poll showing Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democrat Tony Evers tied at 47 percent each among likely voters, the stage is now set for a frenetic closing sprint leading to the Nov. 6 election. “Well, it couldn’t be any closer,” Marquette poll director Charles Franklin said. “We had exactly the same number of respondents picking each side.” Libertarian Phil Anderson was at 3 percent and only 1 percent did not know who they would vote for. “This race could tip in either direction based on our data,” Franklin said. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)