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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

Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


Three for the Road

A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


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