Daily Digest: Pawlenty leads money race

Good morning, and welcome to the first day of August. I hope you're having a good summer. Here's the Digest.

1. Pawlenty, Walz lead in fundraising for governor. With two weeks to go before the Minnesota primary election, former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty has raised the most money in the race for governor and has $1 million left to spend. Pawlenty has raised $2.1 million in his bid to return to the governor’s office, according the most recent round of fundraising reports. That’s far ahead of his Republican-endorsed primary opponent, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who reported raising $306,000 this year and had $193,000 left to spend. On the Democratic side of the race, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz is leading other candidates in a three-way primary, raising nearly $1.3 million this year with $500,000 left to spend. DFL-endorsed state Rep. Erin Murphy raised $585,000 in 2018 and has nearly $234,000 still in the bank.  Attorney General Lori Swanson, the last candidate to enter the race in June, reported her first fundraising numbers, bringing in more than $606,000 since then and spending most of that: She has $135,000 left in the bank, the least of any of the candidates in the race. Much of her money has been spent airing two television ads. (MPR News)

2. DFL comes down on Painter.  Leaders of Minnesota’s Democratic Party are in a heated feud with U.S. Senate candidate Richard Painter, a former Republican and ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush’s White House who is challenging U.S. Sen. Tina Smith in the upcoming DFL primary. State DFL Chairman Ken Martin called Painter “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” who refuses to say he is a Democrat. In an interview, he described Painter’s decision to run as “a craven act of desperation because [he doesn’t] fit in the Republican Party anymore.” Painter said that he “won’t swear allegiance to a party” but would caucus with Senate Democrats if he’s elected, and would vote for Smith if she beats him in the Aug. 14 primary. The DFL, he said in an interview, is “applying a litmus test instead of talking about issues.” Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor and critic of President Donald Trump, said in March that he was weighing a Senate campaign. “I need to think about whether there’s a place for me” in the GOP, he said then. In April, Painter said he would run as a Democrat. “I’m out of the Republican Party,” he said. But in an MPR interview last week Painter declined to call himself a Democrat. (Star Tribune)

3. NY prosecutors looking at Weber, two others. Special counsel Robert Mueller has referred a collection of cases to New York federal prosecutors concerning whether several high-profile American lobbyists and operatives failed to register their work as foreign agents, according to people familiar with the matter. The transfer of the inquiries marks an escalation of Mueller's referrals to the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York in the period since he turned over a case involving President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Since the spring, Mueller has referred matters to SDNY involving longtime Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and his work for his former firm, the Podesta Group, and former Minnesota Republican Rep. Vin Weber and his work for Mercury Public Affairs, the sources said. One source said that former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig, a former partner at law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, is also part of the inquiry. (CNN)

4. A former DFL staffer says his complaints about sexual harassment went nowhere. Twenty-six-year-old Christopher Horoshak, of Cotton, worked for the DFL as a canvasser beginning in the late summer of 2016. He was based in the Mountain Iron field office and spent most of his time working at the direction of the Nolan re-election effort. As an articulate young man, with an outgoing and empathetic personality, Horoshak was a good fit for political outreach, and he said he got excellent feedback for his efforts. Even so, he said his experience working in the DFL office was a difficult one. Horoshak is gay, and he said the harassment by two members of the DFL campaign team in Mt. Iron began even before he had completed filling out his employee paperwork on his first day on the job. Horoshak says he complained to superiors and even face-to-face to U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan but felt his complaints were ignored.  “I’m not out to hurt the DFL,” Horoshak  said. “I want to make it better.”(The Timberjay)

5. New DWI law takes effect. A change in Minnesota law will ban people who have a DWI from taking to the state's trails and waterways on boats, snowmobiles and ATVs while their driving privileges are suspended. That hasn't been the case, as authorities found earlier this year. Alan Geisenkoetter, an 8-year-old Wyoming, Minn., boy was killed when a snowmobile driven by 45-year-old Eric Coleman hit Geisenkoetter and his family's ice fishing shelter in January. Coleman had two previous DWI convictions and was facing another charge. But state law didn't prevent him from driving motorized recreational vehicles like snowmobiles, ATVs and boats. Authorities say Coleman had twice the legal blood alcohol limit when he hit Geisenkoetter on Chisago Lake after dark. He's facing vehicular manslaughter charges for the boy's death. (MPR News)

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