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September 26, 2022
Happy Rosh Hashanah to Those Celebrating

In recent weeks, individual campaigns, political parties, news organizations, and a variety of outside groups have all conducted extensive polling in an attempt to assess the political landscape and adjust their strategy accordingly. Each polling entity uses a different methodology and will naturally have varying outcomes. However, political parties can use this information as a fundraising tool, to demonstrate the urgency of a race, or even as proof that their campaign message is working. Pollsters won’t just ask likely voters which candidates they favor, but they’ll also inquire as to which issues are most important to them.  This year those discussions appear to be centering on public safety, economic security, and reproductive rights. Knowing the key issues of an election cycle can provide valuable insight into what voter preferences will look like in November. Recent elections have become increasingly unpredictable, and it can be difficult for candidates and political insiders alike to gauge the pulse of an election.    

What the Polls Say:

In a poll conducted by APM Research Lab, and released by the Star Tribune, Kare 11, and MPR, some 800 registered voters were surveyed between September 12th-14th.  The results showed Gov. Walz leading Republican Scott Jensen 48% to 41%, with 10% of voters still undecided. That same poll showed Secretary of State Steve Simon leading Republican challenger Kim Crockett 48% to 40%, with 12% of voters still undecided. The race featuring the tightest margins where Democrats lead Republicans is the Minnesota Attorney General’s race, with Attorney General Keith Ellison leading his Republican opponent Jim Schultz by only 1 point, 46.4% to 44.9%, with 9% of voters still undecided.  

However, in a poll done by KSTP/Survey USA, which surveyed 775 Minnesotans between August 30th and September 4th, results seemed to show an even more desirable political landscape for Democrats. Gov. Walz led Jensen by a wider margin, 51% to 33%, with 12% of voters still undecided. Attorney General Keith Ellison saw a more comfortable lead as he led his challenger Jim Schultz 46% to 40%, with 14% of voters still undecided. Secretary of State Steve Simon leads Republican Kim Crockett 42% to 38%, with 20% of voters still undecided. Though typically the lowest profile race of the four constitutional offices, the State Auditor’s race has become increasingly contentious in recent weeks. This was reflected in the KSTP/Survey USA poll, which showed current State Auditor Julie Blaha leading her Republican challenger by only 1 point, 38% to 37% with 23% of voters still undecided.

Finally, an organization called Trafalgar group, an opinion polling and survey group founded in Atlanta, Georgia, showed the most favorable polling numbers for Republicans at this stage in the election. Gov. Walz led Jensen by less than 3 percentage points, 47.7% to 45%, with 4.9% of voters still undecided.  This is, by far, the closest Jensen has come to Gov. Walz in any poll. For the first time, Attorney General Keith Ellison trailed his Republican challenger Jim Schultz by nearly 4 percentage points, Schultz 49.3% to Ellison 45.7%, with 4.9% of voters still undecided. Secretary of State Steve Simon led Crockett by 1 point with 46.2% to her 45.2%, and 8.5% of voters still undecided. The most contentious of all state-wide races saw incumbent Julie Blaha trailing behind her Republican challenger Ryan Wilson by a slim margin, Wilson 42.3% to Blaha 41.2%, with 10.8% of voters still undecided. 

Key 2022 Election Dates

  • Sept. 23 - Early Voting Begins for the General Election
  • Nov. 7 - Last Day for In-person Early Voting
  • Nov. 8 - General Election 

Federal Update

Due to the holiday, the House is out of session on Monday and Tuesday. The Senate is out today but has a high-profile vote Tuesday on the legislative vehicle for a short-term government-funding bill. Federal agencies run out of funding on Friday, so this vote will be the key to what unfolds throughout the rest of the week. Lawmakers are anxious to get back home to campaign and they want to wrap up legislative business as soon as possible.

The Continuing Resolution (CR) – which still hasn’t been formally unveiled – will include more than $12 billion in military and economic aid for Ukraine, a top priority for the White House and congressional leaders in both parties. The package calls for reauthorizing FDA user fees. There’s also money for resettling Afghan refugees, boosting low-income winter heating assistance and providing disaster relief in Jackson, Mississippi.

The CR will keep federal agencies open through mid-December. Appropriators hope to have an omnibus spending package for the remainder of FY 2023 finished by then.

But first, the Senate has to formally begin debating the CR. The big hang-up there is Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) permitting reform proposal. Known officially as the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has pledged to attach the Manchin proposal to the CR.

Schumer teed up a legislative vehicle to swap in the contents of a stopgap bill that's still being worked on, filing cloture on a motion to proceed to unrelated House-passed legislation to cap monthly insulin copays. Pelosi told reporters the current plan is for the Senate to vote on cloture Tuesday night "after sundown," given the Rosh Hashana holiday. 

Congressional leaders and appropriators spent the weekend haggling over the last details of the text Schumer is aiming to unveil Tuesday, which he would offer as a substitute amendment. But the measure still faces an uphill climb to 60 votes, other Republicans said, with little additional support on their side and the Democratic caucus also facing divisions on the matter. Schumer could change his vote to "no" on cloture, giving him the opportunity to bring a different version up quickly, without the permitting language.

Alternatively, the House could just generate a fresh CR and send that to the Senate, also presumably without the permitting measure. Pelosi suggested that was an option if the Senate can't cross the 60-vote cloture threshold on Tuesday. Pelosi also suggested more tweaks could be made before the stopgap bill passes the Senate. If there are delays reaching agreement on the underlying text, the Senate process bogs down, or both, one option may be a very short-term stopgap measure. Senate Appropriations ranking member Richard C. Shelby (R-AL) suggested it was possible lawmakers could need a two- or three-day CR, though other lawmakers and aides downplayed that prospect.

Longstanding guidance from the White House budget office stipulates that if passage of stopgap legislation isn't in doubt but simply has additional procedural hoops to jump through, federal agencies get a one-day grace period before needing to wind down operations. Realistically, a shutdown beginning Sunday would not cause major impacts, though that could change if employees are instructed not to report to work on Monday, October 3. 

The Larkin Hoffman Government Relations Team
    Margaret Vesel

Matthew Bergeron

Peter Coyle
Bill Griffith
  Grady Harn  Megan Knight
Peder Larson

  Robert Long
Gerald Seck 
Brandan Strickland

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This newsletter is provided as a service to our clients and firm associates. While the information provided in this newsletter is believed to be accurate, it is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice.