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Outside money not yet a factor in Franken-McFadden Senate race

PLUS: Blowback from McFadden’s Chinese steel comments; Dayton and Johnson agree to spending limits, and Asian carp may invade a menu near you.

MinnPost file photo by Brian Halliday

Does a savvy businessman believe this? Kyle Potter of the AP reports: “While millions of dollars in advertisements have poured into North Carolina, Louisiana, Alaska and Arkansas — from outside groups trying to unseat vulnerable incumbent Democrats and others defending them — there’s been just a trickle in Minnesota, where recently nominated GOP challenger Mike McFadden hopes to oust Franken. … The former investment banker also has the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in his corner, promising to spend aggressively to beat Franken.”

Also in McFadden news: His comment — later modified — that he’d be okay with using foreign steel in the proposed Keystone XL pipeline had Iron Rangers out over the weekend. Scott Gerdes of the Mesabi Daily News writes, “Anger at McFadden’s comments were palpable and plentiful. Jon Malek, USW Local 1938 president, stated that McFadden had ‘a lot of nerve’ and he’s ‘appalled’ by the candidate’s remarks regarding Chinese steel. ‘I represent 1,400 people at Minntac and we expect elected officials to support U.S. workers,’ he told the crowd. ‘They should be sticking up for us. It will be a sad day in Minnesota if Chinese steel is used instead.’” And what happens if a Democrat kills the project outright?

Meanwhile Patrick Condon  and Ricardo Lopez of the Strib check in on Gov. Dayton’s reelection campaign. “Both [Dayton and Jeff Johnson]  have agreed to state-enforced contribution and spending limits that will allow them each to raise a total of about $4 million, and in exchange receive a public subsidy for their campaign. For Dayton, that’s a big contrast to 2010, when he poured $3.7 million of his personal wealth into the race. To reach the $4 million limit, Johnson would have to raise about $250,000 weekly between now and the election. Campaign manager Scot Crockett said the actual fundraising goal is a bit more modest.” How much is a “bit”?

So why don’t they just grow a tree on the White House lawn? The St. Cloud Times says, “This year’s United States Capitol Christmas tree is selected and will be cut from the Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota this fall. Capitol staff and the Washington office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service visited the Chippewa National Forest last month to narrow down the dozens of tree candidates, according to the Brainerd Dispatch. A second tree was selected as a backup, just in case something happens to the first, such as a lightning strike.”

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Dave Shaffer of the Strib describes the surge in solar power in Minnesota a “growth spurt.” “The industry, once focused largely on installing solar photovoltaic panels for homes, businesses and government, now is seeing a surge in investment by electric utilities. Cooperative power companies, especially Great River Energy in Maple Grove, are building more than 20 solar projects this year and next, including the state’s largest community solar garden in Ramsey, Minn. Xcel Energy, the state’s largest utility, also is increasing solar investment, likely spurring statewide growth in new solar capacity that far outpaces last year’s 55 percent gain.”

Another honor for Louise Erdrich. Lisa Cornwell of the AP says, “Author Louise Erdrich, whose writings chronicle contemporary Native American life through characters representing its mix of heritages and cultures, was announced Sunday as the winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s distinguished achievement award.”

Speaking of awards:  MPR’s Lorna Benson reports that New Ulm picked up one for “the Heart of New Ulm Project, a 10-year effort that aims to eliminate heart attacks in the community. After six years, the town has yet to hit that lofty goal, and may never do so. But it has made enough progress in improving health among its citizens to win national recognition. In July, the project won a 2014 Nova Award for its work from the American Hospital Association, which the community will celebrate on Tuesday.”

Do they taste like chicken? Bonny Wolf of NPR says one strategy for driving down the number of Asian carp is to eat the dang things. “Asian carp got into the Mississippi River — this fish can jump barriers — and has been making its unwelcome way north. A chef in Louisiana renamed it ‘Silverfin,’ and now serves it almondine. Some Chicago chefs smoke Asian carp and serve it in chowder. There are some critics of this tactic of eating invasive species: They worry that this will create demand. But Steve Vilnit, director of fisheries marketing for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, says if we sell the last blue catfish, we’ve done our job. In the meantime, though, his official slogan for the fish is, ‘Malicious but delicious.’”

Good job, Wisconsin. Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says, “Wisconsin taxpayers would have saved $206 million over two years — 73 percent more than estimated — if officials had fully expanded its main health care program for the poor under the federal Affordable Care Act, a new nonpartisan report shows. If officials decide to change course and expand the program in the next state budget, state taxpayers would save another $261 million to $315 million through June 2017, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.” But on the other hand, why change something when … it’s working?