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D.C. Memo: Supplemental politics

This week from Washington, Trump’s efforts to win Minnesota, Jason Lewis’ time hawking supplements, and what’s happening with Jim Hagedorn’s office.

Jason Lewis
Screen shot
A report this week highlighted Minnesota Republican Senate candidate Jason Lewis’ use of his radio program to sell a questionable health supplement.
Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week from Washington, Trump’s efforts to win Minnesota, Jason Lewis’ time hawking supplements, and what’s happening with Jim Hagedorn’s office.

But first a quick plug: At the end of the month, MinnPost is hosting an election preview featuring yours truly, Peter Callaghan, Walker Orenstein and Greta Kaul. If you want to join us, via Zoom, you can learn more here. 

Let’s get on with this.

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The ‘battleground state’

Dr. Jill Biden was just in Minnesota. Donald Trump, Jr. was here too.

This time around, in 2020, Minnesota is being pitched by the Trump campaign as a potential swing state: a place that could help Republicans ensure victory. But things aren’t leaning that way decisively at all. Just look at some recent polling (which is obviously subject to change):

  • 49% to 44%: In a survey of 649 likely voters, conducted by Morning Consult in September, former Vice President Joe Biden is leading President Trump by five percentage points (With a +/-1 point margin of error).
  • 49% to 40%: In another September poll of 649 likely voters, this time conducted by SurveyUSA, Biden leads Trump by nine percentage points (With a +/- 5.2 point margin of error).

Additionally, Greta Kaul has a deep dive on Trump’s case for winning Minnesota — and why it’s not likely. Here’s a choice paragraph:

FiveThirtyEight forecasts Minnesota is the fourth most likely state to be the deciding factor — the tipping point – in putting one candidate or the other over the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the race. The odds of that happening? A relatively small 7 percent.

Still no COVID-19 Relief

The Senate voted on its own COVID-19 relief bill today, which failed 52-47. Both Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar voted against the bill. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was the lone Republican “no” vote.

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Democrats have said they will not accept any COVID-19 relief if it does not benefit states and regional governments, which are under financial duress. Republicans, led by Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have instead pushed for a “skinny” relief bill, which includes no money for states and regional governments, but would provide things like a $300 per week extended unemployment benefit (down from the initial $600 in the CARES Act).

On the whole, negotiations have broken down between the Senate, the House, and the White House, and it is unclear if they will resume, despite the lack of extended unemployment benefits, the rent crisis or the looming financial crisis for many states.

Senate supplements

Deena Winter at the Minnesota Reformer has a piece on Republican Senate candidate Jason Lewis’ illustrious radio career. The story is about how he sold “Youngevity,” a nutritional supplement company that claims to “fight conditions such as cancer, autism and diabetes.”

Most recently, Winter writes, the company has gotten the attention of the FTC: “In June, the Federal Trade Commission warned Youngevity and five other companies that sell dietary supplements, shakes and other products to stop unlawfully advertising that its products treat or prevent COVID-19 with no scientific evidence they work.”

Read more here. 

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By the numbers

An update on Hagedorn’s office

If you’ve been following what’s going on in Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s office, a few things have happened since the office went into crisis mode and Hagedorn fired his chief of staff, Peter Su. Here are a few updates:

  1. Daniel Newhauser at the Minnesota Reformer revealed that, in an internal audit of Hagedorn’s office, one company being paid office funds was owned by Su’s brother. 
  2. The Star Tribune obtained audio of Hagedorn downplaying the scandal internally, a stark contrast to what he’s said publicly. 

Omar receives death threats

Late last week, Republican candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene posted a Facebook image of herself, holding a rifle, next to Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez. Taylor Greene, who has shared Islamophobic and antisemitic content before, has not been publicly rebuked by top House Republicans or nor have they said she will be barred from caucusing with House Republicans if elected. Running in a deeply red seat, Taylor Greene is likely to win her general election race and join the House next year.

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Since the photo was posted, Omar says she’s received death threats.

“Posting a photo with an assault rifle next to the faces of three women of color is not advertising. It’s incitement,” Omar said on Twitter late last week. “There are already death threats in response to this post. Facebook should remove this violent provocation.”

In other news

Quote of the week

“This is deadly stuff,” President Trump told journalist Bob Woodward in February, then going on to spend months downplaying COVID-19. At the same time, Woodward kept the quote for months to put in his book, instead of revealing it then.

What I’m reading

Sam Richards for Motherboard: Drug-Running Plane Seized by Feds Used to Spy on George Floyd Protests

Motherboard keeps running extensive stories on what agencies and aircraft were watching over Minneapolis during the George Floyd protests. This time: a drug running plane, equipped with thermal imaging technology, seized by the Federal government in the 1980s.

Jeff Weiss for LA Magazine: As Wildfires Ravage the State, the Dark Side of the California Dream Slinks Out of the Shadows

Weiss gives us a brief window into increasing visibility of California fires. “In the here and now, fire season has not begun in Los Angeles,” he writes, “but it’s obvious how it will end.”

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