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D.C. Memo: Don’t be a fool!

Minnesota delegation votes together; Omar endorses Sanders; McCollum on Israel; and more.

photo of president donald trump
President Trump sent Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a letter that read in part: “Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!”
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week in Washington, third quarter campaign finance filings (!), Rep. Ilhan Omar endorses Bernie Sanders for president, and the entire Minnesota delegation rebukes Trump. Let’s get on with this.

All together now

The Minnesota delegation voted together on Wednesday, this time rebuking President Donald Trump’s choice to pull troops out of Syria as Turkey invades the country. That means National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Rep. Tom Emmer, Rep. Pete Stauber, and noted Trump loyalist Rep. Jim Hagedorn all voted for the resolution.

The resolution opposed the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria. 60 Republicans voted against the resolution. Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Collin Peterson did not vote. Omar did not vote on any bills or resolutions that day, but Peterson voted for a bill 35 minutes prior to the Syria resolution.

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Trump has since changed his language somewhat on Turkey, sending Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a letter that read in part: “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” On Thursday, the Trump administration made an agreement with Turkey to commit to a ceasefire.

Omar and Sanders

This week, Omar released a new bill with Sen. Bernie Sanders, aiming to make school lunches free for all students.

If you assume that would be the only Omar and Sanders news this week, you were incorrect. The Fifth District representative endorsed Sanders’ bid for president as well. Her predecessor, Attorney General Keith Ellison, has also endorsed Sanders for President.

Related (The Nation): Why Ilhan Omar Is the Optimist in the Room

The Minnesota congresswoman who can criticize Israel

HuffPost has a profile on Rep. Betty McCollum’s policy stances on Israel. McCollum has been a forceful advocate against human rights abuses, and that includes Israeli treatment of Palestinian children, which MinnPost covered back in August.

Choice quote from the HuffPost story is the lead:

Over the past few years, one member of Congress has stood up to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), denounced Israel’s policies, which she likened to “apartheid,” and pushed laws that would place humanitarian conditions on U.S. military aid to Israel. Human rights advocates praise her, and she is popular in her progressive district. But she is neither the face of the progressive left nor the bogeyman of Fox News. Unless you’ve lived in Minnesota — or read MinnPost — there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of her.

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Boundary Waters

The field of Democratic nominees is slowly coalescing around at least once policy stance: Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Wilderness needs protection from mining. Since we published this story Wednesday, Beto O’Rourke’s campaign has released a statement of support for the Boundary Waters.

Why? Read more at MinnPost.

FEC #3

Tuesday marked the last day to file third quarter campaign finance reports. The districts listed below only list potential challengers if Cook Political Report lists them as competitive in some way.


  • DFL: Tina Smith (Incumbent)
      • $1.3 million raised. $617k spent. $2.74 million cash on hand.
  • Republican: Jason Lewis
    • $413k raised. $521k spent. 360k cash on hand.
  • Republican: Rob Barrett
    • $5.7k raised. $10k spent. $1.3k cash on hand.
  • Republican: Theron Preston Washington
    • No Q3 filing.

The Star Tribune’s Stephen Montemayor has a good breakdown here.


  • Republican: Rep. Jim Hagedorn (Incumbent)
    • $212k raised. $74k spent, $459k cash on hand.
  • DFL: Dan Feehan
    • 2016 candidate for the district who lost by about 1300 votes. Filed for candidacy after or around the deadline. Feehan’s filing lists that he transferred $900 in from his prior election committee.
  • DFL: Ralph Kaehler
    • No Q3 filing.
  • Unaffiliated: Hans Gabriel Tinsley
    • No Q3 filing.


  • DFL: Rep. Angie Craig (Incumbent)
    • $506k raised. $127k spent. $1.1 million cash on hand.
  • Republican: Rick Olson
    • $25k raised. $24.9k spent. $80.5k cash on hand.
    • Notable: Olson loaned his campaign $80k.


  • DFL: Rep. Dean Phillips (Incumbent)
    • $213k raised. $170k spent. $225.8k cash on hand.
  • Republican: Kendall Qualls
    • $93.5k raised. $13.7k spent. $97.7k cash on hand.
    • Notable: Qualls loaned his campaign 20k from that total (and 31.8k overall).
  • Independent: Gary Edward Heyer
    • No Q3 filing.


  • DFL: Rep. Betty McCollum (Incumbent)
    • $125k raised. $80k spent. $245k cash on hand.


  • DFL: Rep. Ilhan Omar (Incumbent)
    • $1.09 million raised. $441k spent. $1.56 million cash on hand.
    • Notable: Omar is in a safe district and raising close to what Sen. Tina Smith, a Senate candidate, raised.


  • Republican: Rep. Tom Emmer (Incumbent)
    • $334k raised. $138k spent. $731k cash on hand.


  • DFL: Rep. Collin Peterson (Incumbent)
    • $159k raised. $71.8k spent. $917k cash on hand.
    • Notable: $23k raised from individuals. $136k raised from PACs.
  • Republican: Michelle Fischbach
    • 49th Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota.
    • $100k raised. $16k spent. $84.7k cash on hand.
  • Republican: Dave Hughes
    • The Republican endorsed candidate in 2016, Hughes lost by 4 percentage points.
    • $19k raised. $10k spent. $18.5k cash on hand.
  • Republican: Noel Collis
    • $25.8k raised. $7k spent. $128.5k cash on hand.
  • Republican: Jayesun Sherman
    • $2.9k raised. $2.1k spent. $4.5k cash on hand.
  • Republican: Joel Novak
    • No Q3 filing.
  • DFL: Stephen Emery
    • No Q3 filing.


  • Republican: Rep. Pete Stauber (Incumbent)
    • 222k raised. 108k spent. 540k cash on hand.
  • DFL: Quinn Nystrom
    • No Q3 filing.
  • DFL: Soren C Sorensen
    • No Q3 filing.

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The president attacks Somali-Americans

Last week, President Trump came to Minneapolis, where he spent some of his time ranting that Somali immigrants are a drain on the state. What followed were questions from Somali-Americans about who would stand up for them and a series of targeted xenophobic attacks.

“As you know, for many years, leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers,” Trump said at the rally.

“I issued an executive action, making clear that no refugees will be resettled in any city or any state without the express written consent of that city or that state. So speak to your mayor.”

In the Star Tribune, Faiza Mahamud and Jessie Van Berkel talked to Somali Americans about their impressions of Trump’s speech.

“I didn’t know we were hated like that,” one man told them. “Donald Trump is one man, but what scares me is the amount of support he has.”

Mukhtar M. Ibrahim, a Minnesota journalist who was born in Somalia and founder of Sahan Journal, was targeted as well. “Go back to where you came from,” a caller said on a message meant for him, ending the call with a slur.

Jennifer Carnahan, the chairwoman of the Minnesota Republican Party, told the New York Times that the President’s words were taken out of context.

Related (Washington Post): Video giant Twitch pushes Trump rallies and mass violence into the live-stream age

Peterson ads

The Committee for Stronger Rural Communities, a super PAC that will only focus on re-electing Peterson this cycle, has started running radio ads in the Seventh District.

The PAC, which I reported on in August, was started by executives from the American Crystal Sugar Company and has already raised $400,000.

“It is a large rural district. As far as emphasis on sugar, Collin Peterson has always been a supporter of sugar,” Kelly Erickson, a board member for American Crystal Sugar, told Forum News Service.

Bipartisanship for biofuels

There’s one issue that seems to be uniting Republicans and DFLers in Minnesota: Biofuels. From Congress to the governor’s office, both parties have not been shy about their proposals for supporting ethanol and biodiesel.

“Minnesota farmers endure a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the weather and the economy,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said in September after creating a state council to grow the biofuel industry. “They shouldn’t face that uncertainty from their government.”

MinnPost’s Walker Orenstein has the story here.

The president next door

The big news this week was the fourth Democratic presidential debate, where Sen. Amy Klobuchar spent the most time pushing back on the ostensible frontrunner: Sen. Elizabeth Warren. That performance led to a significant fundraising boost in the 24 hours after the debate, with the candidate raising over 1.1 million, according to the campaign.

Klobuchar still needs to earn three percent support in three more qualifying polls to make the next debate, so it’ll be worth watching if her debate performance provides a boost. She has been struggling to get beyond the 2 percent mark in most polls.

Not related to Klobuchar, but notable: There were no questions about climate change or immigration during the debate.

Klobuchar is currently in New Hampshire on a ten-county, thirty-hour stop.

In other news

Quote of the week

“I thought this Trump letter was a joke … it’s real,” said CNN anchor Jake Tapper, while reading the letter President Trump sent to the Turkish President.

What I’m reading

Heather Vogell for ProPublica: Never-Before-Seen Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies

While Congress continues to sue for access to Trump’s tax returns, ProPublica was able to show “versions of fraud” on accompanying tax documents that local and state agencies are now looking into.

Helena Bottemiller Evich for Politico: ‘I’m standing right here in the middle of climate change’: How USDA is failing farmers

Increasingly extreme weather has become commonplace for farmers around the country. It’s not likely to get better. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture spends less than 1 percent of its budget on helping farmers adapt.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. Until next week, feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: Follow at @gabemschneider. And don’t forget to become a MinnPost member.