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Political Notebook: Campaign refund program is back

After a two-year hiatus, a favorite fundraising tool of Minnesota political parties is back.

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After a two-year hiatus, a favorite fundraising tool of Minnesota political parties is back.

The state's Political Contribution Refund Program returned on July 1. Under the program, individuals can donate up to $50 per year to a state candidate or political party and get that money refunded to them. The parties aren't wasting anytime getting the word out.

The Republican Party of Minnesota's website blasts the news with the words "Donate today" at the top of the page. Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said the GOP is doing what it can to alert donors. That includes sending out a direct mailer, an email and promoting it on social media.

"There's a lot of energy and excitement about the return of it because the potential for donations is much greater than perhaps it had been in the past," Carnahan said.

Historically, Republican groups have far outpaced their DFL counterparts when it comes to use of the PCR program. In 2014, Republican groups racked up $1.1 million in donations. DFL groups had less than $672,000.


Some Republican lawmakers oppose the program, saying it amounts to welfare for politicians. Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, is sponsoring a bill to scrap the program.

Carnahan said she understands conservatives' concerns with the program. But since it is in law, she said the party is doing its best to take advantage of it ahead of the 2018 election.

Democrats are also busy promoting the program's return. Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said the party has sent out emails and text messages about the rebate. The party is also investing in online advertising and calling supporters. He said the program encourages average citizens to give — something that is important in today's political climate where big donors are flooding the system with cash.

"Being able to raise (money) from a lot more small donors and average people certainly fits within our values as DFLers," he said.

Martin is also aware that Republicans have had more success with the program in the past adding, "We're hoping to change that."

Study: Link between military sacrifice, support for Trump

A new study has found a link between a community's rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump.

Researchers with the University of Minnesota and Boston University analyzed 2016 presidential election returns. They found "a significant and meaningful relationship" between a community's level of wartime sacrifice and its support for Trump.


"With so much post-election analysis, it is surprising that no one has pointed to the possibility that inequalities in wartime sacrifice might have tipped the election. Put simply: perhaps the small slice of America that is fighting and dying for the nation's security is tired of its political leaders ignoring this disproportionate burden," the authors wrote.

The report was authored by University of Minnesota law professor Francis Shen and Boston University political scientist Douglas Kriner.

The authors conclude that if Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — three states critical to Trump's win — had suffered a moderately lower casualty rate, they could have flipped to supporting Clinton.

"Trump's electoral fate in 2020 may well rest on the administration's approach to the human costs of war," Shen said. "Politicians from both parties would do well to more directly recognize and address the needs of those communities whose young women and men are making the ultimate sacrifice for the country."

Walz skeptical of Putin

During a meeting in Germany with Trump last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that his country interfered in last November's presidential election. That prompted gubernatorial candidate and 1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz to tweet this: "Former KGB agent & authoritarian says he didn't attack our election? Yeah..... I think I'll trust our US Intel. Community & European allies."

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