Collin C Peterson

Heard on the Hill This Week: Al Franken’s Hotdish and the Tallest Senator in Modern History

This week Roll Call’s Heard on the Hill reporter Alex Gangitano checked out a Minnesota cooking competition hosted by Sen. Al Franken. In addition to sampling some North Star State “hotdishes,” Alex sat down with new Sen. Luther Strange, the tallest senator in modern history.

Al Franken Explains the Minnesota Hotdish During Annual Cook-Off

The Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition was held Wednesday on Capitol Hill and Roll Call was there. Watch for who won (hint: it featured bear meat), who cheated (spoiler alert: someone didn’t just submit a hotdish to the hotdish cook-off) and lots and lots of warm food.

Peterson Exercises Right to Bear Arms to Win Hotdish Competition
Franken hosts the seventh annual Minnesota bake-off

From center left, Sen. Amy Klobucharand Rep. Betty McCollum size up the fare at the seventh annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s that time of the year when Al Franken makes jokes and eats casserole. Or, as the Minnesota senator and his North Star State colleagues call it, hotdish.

Rep. Collin C. Peterson won the seventh annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition with his dish that had bear meat in it.

Word on the Hill: Hotdish Time
West Virginia, baseball and women

Last year's hotdish made by Minnesota Sen. Al Franken was titled "The Most Beautiful Hotdish in the World," in honor of Prince. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Minnesota tradition of eating “hotdish” and listening to Al Franken’s jokes is here again.

Franken is hosting the seventh annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition, and will be joined by Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Reps. Collin C. Peterson, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Tim Walz, Rick Nolan, Erik Paulsen, Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis.

House Democrats Look Beyond DNC Chairman Race
They have no say in the election but hold high hopes for the winner

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison is the only member of Congress running for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congressional Democrats have little sway over who the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee will be. But the eventual winner — to be elected by DNC members this weekend in Atlanta — may play an important role in shaping the direction of a party that desperately needs help articulating its message and organizing ahead of the 2018 midterms.

“Right about now, they do nothing with the Congress. So anything would be an improvement,” Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell, a former DNC member, said of the committee last week, outside the House chamber. 

NRCC Goes After Blue-Collar Districts in 2018
GOP campaign arm releases list of 36 initial targets

Rep. Tim Walz speaks with guests during a campaign event in Duluth for fellow Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan last fall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee’s initial list of offensive targets for 2018 includes 36 Democrat-held districts, many in blue-collar areas of the country.

If Democrats are targeting the well-educated suburbs (see New Jersey’s 11th District, for example), where Donald Trump either barely won or underperformed, Republicans are going after many rural districts where Hillary Clinton underperformed the congressional ticket. 

The Incredible Shrinking Split Tickets
Midterm campaign field starts with just 35 crossover House districts

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller is the only Republican up for re-election in 2018 in a state not carried by Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For the latest evidence of the nation’s polarized politics, the granular returns from November offer these slivers of bright purple insight:

Voters in just 35 congressional districts, or 8 percent of the total, elected a House member from one party while preferring the presidential candidate of the other party — the second election in a row where the share of ticket-splitting seats was in the single digits. Before that, 1920 was the last time the number of such crossover districts fell below one out of every nine.

Word on the Hill: Gotcha — Or Not
New caucus launches

Arizona Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva didn’t get got. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Gotcha — wait, maybe not.

A tipster contacted HOH to allege hypocrisy on the part of Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., for flying first class on his way back to D.C. this week when a bill he sponsored prevented such a thing.

Newest Blue Dog Sides with GOP on Repeal of Midnight Rules
Democrat Josh Gottheimer campaigned as a fiscal conservative

New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer was one of only four Democrats to vote for legislation allowing for the repeal of recent regulations finalized by the Obama administration. (Courtesy Josh Gottheimer Facebook page)

The three Blue Dog Democrats who voted for the Republican-backed Midnight Rules Relief Act last November had some new company Wednesday night, when the House again passed California Rep. Darrell Issa’s reintroduced legislation.

The House voted 238-184 to allow Congress to repeal en bloc multiple regulations approved in the last 60 legislative days of President Barack Obama’s administration. 

Did Down-Ballot Democrats Rely Too Heavily on Trump?
Party only cut historic House deficit by 6 seats

Democrats were unsuccessful in their attempts to tie Minnesota Rep. Erik Paulsen to Donald Trump. The congressman ended up coasting to re-election by 14 points. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats never thought they were in for a great night on Tuesday, but their scant gains are inspiring new questions about how the party wins congressional elections after several cycles of disappointment.

Front and center, of course, is Donald Trump. How they missed the signs of Trump’s surprise victory will be a bigger question for the entire Democratic Party (and Republicans and the media alike) for months to come.