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Franken vs. Coleman: Clinton vs. Lazio Revisited?

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When Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate from the state of New York in the Autumn of 1999 she quickly was denounced by her political opponents as a carpetbagger—having never previously resided in New York. Ultimately, Clinton achieved a 55—44 percent victory over Republican Rick Lazio, with the vast majority of New Yorkers not viewing Clinton's 'carpetbagging' as an important factor in that Senate race.

When Al Franken announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota in February of this year, his political opponents began to undertake a similar exercise. However, one problem they faced was that Franken, unlike Clinton, does have ties to the state in which he is seeking to serve. Franken, though born in New York, grew up in St. Louis Park.

As such, the tactic taken by Franken's opponents has shifted to undermine the legitimacy of his Minnesota ties by examining who is donating to his Senate campaign. Right-wing blogs and the traditional media have been quick to point out that the vast majority of money raised by the Franken campaign (82 percent of the $1.9 million he raised in the 2nd Quarter of 2007) came from non-Minnesota donors. Incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman raised $1.5 million—with 50 percent coming from Minnesota sources.

Franken's campaign has since pointed out that he has more Minnesota contributors than does Coleman, when including those donors that do not have to be reported to the FEC (those who give less than $200).

The truth of the matter is that Franken—like Hillary Clinton—is a nationally known figure, capable of attracting donors from across the country. Through his 15 years of work on Saturday Night Live, penning three #1 New York Times bestsellers, and hosting a nationally syndicated radio show on Air America, Franken has achieved a much greater national reputation than Coleman and fellow DFL contender Mike Ciresi.

Thus, Franken's fundraising numbers are not so newsworthy as some interested parties would make it seem. The real headline would be if Franken was unable to attract vast amounts of money from sources outside the state. Undoubtedly, if this were the case, he would be criticized by his political opponents for a failure to raise money despite his national renown.

It will be interesting to see if and when Franken's fellow U.S. Senate hopefuls—DFLers and Coleman—pick up on this lead and try to make Franken's fundraising a central feature of their campaigns. If Rick Lazio were their political consultants, he might advise against it.

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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stasson in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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