Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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ST. PAUL—Rebecca Otto won the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's straw poll for governor in the 8th Congressional District. Three days later, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan announced he would not seek re-election. There could be a thread connecting the two. The 8th is a massive district, stretching from Canada to the northern Twin Cities suburbs, covering northeastern, north central and east central Minnesota.
ST. PAUL — It is dangerous to draw too many conclusions from precinct caucuses, especially from non-binding straw polls conducted there, but one fact stands out from this week's caucus night: Almost three times as many Democrats showed up at the Tuesday, Feb. 6, caucuses than Republicans. That could be a scary fact for the GOP, whose loyalists are known for turning out.
ST. PAUL — Second-time Minnesota governor candidate Jeff Johnson easily won a Tuesday, Feb. 6 straw poll, but could face a bigger obstacle in coming weeks: Tim Pawlenty. With all votes tallied from Republican precinct caucuses throughout Minnesota, Johnson had 45 percent of the vote of nearly 11,000 caucus attendees. Pawlenty, a Republican and former two-term governor, still is deciding if he will run for the office again and plans a meeting with key party members next week.
ST. PAUL—Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty stole the spotlight from Republican candidates in the governor's race Tuesday, Feb. 6, hours before party loyalists gather to pick their favorite candidate in a straw poll. The two-term Republican governor made a surprise announcement Tuesday morning that he will leave the Financial Services Roundtable next month. As leader of the Washington-based group, Pawlenty has been spokesman and lobbyist for financial services companies.
ST. PAUL—U.S. Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota delivered the national Democratic weekly address one day short of a month in office. The senator Gov. Mark Dayton appointed to replace Al Franken in Washington said in the video released Friday, Feb. 2, that she is open to working with Republicans. At the same time, she was critical of them.
ST. PAUL—The governor brought in an Army general to lead the Minnesota information technology department, which is struggling to fix a $93-million computer system for vehicle licenses and titles. Gov. Mark Dayton announced on Wednesday, Jan. 24, that he appointed Johanna Clyborne to lead MIN.IT, the state's information technology department. He said she is taking the job as a civilian.
ST PAUL—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is transparent about how much his Super Bowl ticket cost but not so much about which team may earn his cheers. As he was ending an unrelated news conference Wednesday, Jan. 24, reporters began asking Dayton about the Super Bowl, to be played in Minneapolis Feb. 4. The last question was whether he would cheer for the Philadelphia Eagles or New England Patriots. Dayton hesitated, started to answer the question, stopped, started again and eventually said, "I will be there" and left to the laughter of reporters.
MINNEAPOLIS—The Minnesota Vikings will not play in Super Bowl LII, but team officials say that merely hosting one in their home stadium will result in an off-field victory. "We will see the Vikings brand ... more prevalent than in any other host city," Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said, so Super Bowl television viewers will know that U.S. Bank Stadium is home to the Vikings.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota would seem to have an outsized influence on the next farm bill. Both of the state's senators are on that body's Agriculture Committee and three of the state's eight congressmen are on the House farm panel, including Rep. Collin Peterson, the top-ranking Democrat and former chairman. All Minnesotans on the committees are Democrats, in a Congress controlled by Republicans. However, agriculture policy, including the farm bill, usually is decided on a bipartisan basis.
ST. PAUL—A Minnesota Senate special election in the southeastern Twin Cities carries more importance than usual, with a statewide impact. The race to fill the seat of recently resigned Sen. Dan Schoen, D-St. Paul Park, could help determine who controls the state Senate. Schoen left the Senate after being accused of sexual misconduct as Republicans held a one-vote edge in the 67-member body. If Democrat Karla Bigham wins the seat, her party remains just one vote down. Now enter the latest Minnesota constitutional crisis.