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GOP candidates' remarks spur minimum wage debate

Put this one on the list of proposals from conservative candidates that make Democratic operatives smile: In the past week, two Republican Senate candidates have suggested they have concerns about the federal minimum wage.

Alaska Republican Joe Miller, in an interview with ABC News and Politico, said that minimum wage rates should be left up the states. “There should not be” a federal rule regulating low pay, he said. “That is not within the scope of the powers that are given to the federal government.”

And last week, Connecticut GOPer Linda McMahon confessed to being unsure what the minimum wage rate is – after saying that she thinks that it should be reviewed and possibly lowered.

Democrats leapt on both stories, painting the Republicans (particularly the affluent McMahon, who has vowed to spend $50 million of her own money on her race) as out of touch with the plight of the American worker.

Neither Miller’s nor McMahon’s home state has a high population of workers receiving minimum wage.

About one percent of Alaska workers 16 and over receive hourly rates at or below the federal minimum wage, per 2008 numbers from the Bureau of Labor statistics. That's the second-lowest proportion in the country after Oregon.

In Connecticut, it’s 1.8 percent -- also well below the national average of three percent of workers who make at or below minimum wage.