5 things you should know in Minnesota politics this week

Keith Ellison on the campaign trail in August.
Keith Ellison on the campaign trail in August. The latest polling finds him trailing Republican Doug Wardlow in the Minnesota attorney general race.
Tim Pugmire | MPR News file

With fewer than two weeks before the midterm election, it's a busy time in politics.

Don't have the time to keep up with it all? Here's some of the biggest stories to know about in Minnesota from this past week.

1. Poll week: Ellison now trails Wardlow in attorney general race

We got the latest MPR News/Star Tribune Minnesota Poll this week. Among the biggest takeaways, Democrat Keith Ellison is now trailing Republican Doug Wardlow in the attorney general race by 7 points. A month ago, Ellison was ahead by 5 points.

There were also some interesting numbers on the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh: 41 percent of those polled said they are more likely to vote for Democrats this fall because of his confirmation while 39 percent said they were more like to vote for Republicans. There's a pretty stark divide in the state, but not so much among women: 47 percent of women polled said it makes them more likely to vote for Democrats while only 33 percent of women said the same about Republicans. (Read more on the Kavanaugh polling.)

2. There's a lot of fake information this campaign, and you can learn how to spot it

A meme popped up recently showing Keith Ellison campaigning at the Minneapolis homeless encampment with U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith. The problem — it's not real. The meme was created by a group called Right Now MN, a right-wing political action committee. It's an example of misinformation spreading on social media this cycle, much like it did in 2016. We debunked the meme this week and gave readers tips on how to spot fake news.

3. Trump endorses Paulsen, and DFLers are happy

In one of the most competitive races in the state and nation, President Donald Trump unexpectedly endorsed Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen in the 3rd Congressional District this week. It was a surprise even to Paulsen, who has been distancing himself from the president throughout the race. It also delighted his opponent, Democrat Dean Phillips, who has criticized Paulsen for voting with Trump 98 percent of the time.

4. Walz backs off on $15 minimum wage stance

At a press conference this week, DFL gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz did not commit to supporting a $15 minimum wage statewide, as it states on his campaign website. It's a big issue among progressive groups, and some cities have proposed adopting their own $15 minimum wage. Walz does support cities setting their own wage, while his opponent, Jeff Johnson wants to block cities from doing so.

5. 8th District debate coming up Friday

Friday on MPR News, political editor Mike Mulcahy will host a debate between candidates in the 8th Congressional District, Democrat Joe Radinovich and Pete Stauber. The northeastern Minnesota district is seen as the one of the best opportunities in the nation for Republicans to pick up a seat in Congress, but Democrats aren't giving up their longtime stronghold without a fight. Tune in at 11 a.m. Friday. We'll stream it live on the radio and on the MPR News Facebook page.

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