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Minnesota: Ex-GOP Target Walz Has Big Leads in Poll

Freshman Rep. Tim Walz (D) is on track to defeat either of his Republican rivals by large margins this fall, according to a poll commissioned by his campaign.

The survey shows Walz defeating state Sen. Dick Day (R) 57 percent to 22 percent and Mayo Clinic physician Brian Davis 60 percent to 20 percent.

The Benenson Strategy Group, which conducted the poll on Walz’s behalf, queried 502 likely general election voters May 17-19. The poll had a margin of error of 4.3 points.

Walz is targeted by Gopher State Republicans, though so far he has not proven to be vulnerable. He defeated then-Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R) by 6 points in 2006.

Davis has the endorsement of the Minnesota Republican Party; however, Day is challenging him in the Sept. 9 GOP primary.

Playboy Writings May Be Trouble for Franken

With less than a week to go before the Democratic-Farmer-Labor endorsement convention, comedian Al Franken is reportedly getting some heat from Congressional Democrats about one of his past writings in Playboy magazine.

Franken has a challenge from anti-war activist Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer for his party’s nomination at the statewide DFL convention this weekend, but his real competition could come further down the road. There’s rumbling among Democrats that given the recent controversy over some of his writings from eight years ago, Franken could receive the endorsement next weekend but still get a primary challenge on Sept. 9.

The controversy stems from a 2000 Playboy article that Franken penned for the “Porn-O-Rama” issue. In the article, which was intended to be humorous, Franken describes several sex acts, a trip to a fake research center — the Minnesota Institute of Titology — and refers to his son downloading information about bestiality from the Internet.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D), who endorsed Franken’s former primary opponent, attorney Mike Ciresi (D), told the Associated Press last week that she found the material “unacceptable” and worried about its impact on his race with Sen. Norm Coleman (R).

“I can tell you it’s not playing comfortably in St. Paul, and I can’t imagine this politically radioactive material is doing very well in suburban and rural districts,” McCollum said.

The campaign manager for Iraq War veteran Ashwin Madia (D), who is running in the most competitive House race in the state this year, said the Franken matter does not affect the 3rd district race because his candidate can do well in the district on his own.

“Congresswoman McCollum is not wrong,” said Madia’s manager, Jonathan Murray. “But I think this race, Ashwin has this profile, that will be able to separate him from these types of issues.”

— Shira Toeplitz

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