ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — After months of being taken for granted as a Democratic lock, Minnesota is getting a fresh burst of attention in the presidential race.
Both sides escalated their efforts Friday, issuing an incessant stream of phone calls and leaving glossy reminders of their candidates on doorknobs. And Republican nominee Mitt Romney and Democratic President Barack Obama are sending their top surrogates — Romney running mate Paul Ryan and former President Bill Clinton — to the state Sunday, energizing volunteers who are working long hours to make sure people remember to vote on Election Day.
"This is the No. 1 thing that people can be doing right now to turn out Republican votes," said Kurt Sorensen, manager of the GOP's Burnsville campaign office. "If they're reminded how important their individual vote is, they'll go out and get out to the polls."
The state is seemingly built for Obama.
At 5.8 percent, unemployment is a full two percentage points beneath the national average. His 10-point win in 2008 was the latest in a Democratic winning streak stretching to 1976. The state GOP has been wracked by internal feuding, deep financial problems and the lack of any statewide officeholder.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A major independent group working to elect Republican Mitt Romney is entering Minnesota's TV market just days before Election Day with a $1.4 million ad buy, and former President Bill Clinton will make his second trip to the state in less than a week on Sunday.
Crossroads GPS said Friday it will spend $1.4 million to air an ad statewide about President Barack Obama and the national debt. The group is the nonprofit arm of the American Crossroads super PAC, tied to former President George W. Bush's political adviser Karl Rove.
Minnesota has gotten more attention in the last phase of the presidential race.
Romney running mate Paul Ryan visits Minneapolis Sunday. Clinton is slated to visit St. Cloud.
The state last backed a Republican for president in 1972.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Xcel Energy is asking Minnesota regulators for a 10.7 percent increase in electric rates.
The Minneapolis-based utility says it needs $285 million in extra revenue to pay for investments in nuclear power plants and a stronger grid.
Xcel says the increase for a typical residential customer would be about 12 percent or $9 on a monthly bill. Small businesses would see a 10.6 percent increase, and large businesses would pay 9.5 percent more.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will review the request. The Star Tribune (http://bit.ly/PrZyYmhttp://bit.ly/PrZyYm ) reports Xcel asked for an interim rate increase Jan. 1.
In a statement, Judy Poferl, president and CEO of Xcel's Minnesota region, says the company has been investing more than $1 billion a year to meet customers' expectations for safe, reliable and clean electricity.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is suing a coin dealer for allegedly charging customers for gold and silver coins she failed to deliver.
Swanson filed the lawsuit Friday in Ramsey County against Tiffany Grady of St. Paul, who does business as The Stella Group.
The lawsuit alleges Grady and her business violated state consumer fraud and deceptive trade practices laws.
One allegation is that an 82-year-old woman received an unsolicited call from The Stella Group, which persuaded her to pay $12,000 for 10 coins in May. The woman later was admitted to a nursing home, and the coins were never delivered.
Swanson plans to seek a court order next week to stop Grady from doing business pending trial.