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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

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

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Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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