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Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe GOP presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann (right), R-Minn, greets supporters during a campaign stop at Pizza Ranch in Sibley, Iowa.
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe GOP presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann (right), R-Minn, greets supporters during a campaign stop at Pizza Ranch in Sibley, Iowa.

Capital Chatter: 'Iowan' Bachmann refocused on Minnesota

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ST. PAUL -- Michele Bachmann spent the summer and fall in Iowa, hoping to gain traction as a presidential candidate.

While in the state to the south, the Iowa native's favorite line seemed to be: "Everything I needed to know in life I learned in Iowa." She told audience after audience, "I'm an Iowan," and usually did not mention Minnesota.

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When she left Iowa at age 12, she did not take the news from her mother well: "She told me that we were going to move to this exotic, faraway place -- I had hardly ever heard of it before -- called Minnesota. That would put fear in the heart of any Iowan."

Such comments have been widely reported back in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, where she is seeking re-election after her presidential bid failed.

In an interview, she indicated that she did not think her Iowa comments would hurt back in Minnesota.

"I have lived here in Minnesota for 44 years..." she said. "Our babies were born here. Our business is here. Our church is here."

Sure, she said, being from a family that had been in Iowa seven generations makes her proud of the Hawkeye State. But she said she also is proud of Minnesota.

Bachmann said that she said she took ideas from her northern Twin Cities district to Congress "but I amplified that voice ... across the country" in the presidential campaign.

Forecasting a forecast

Republican leaders expect good news Wednesday when state economic officials deliver a budget forecast.

"We are looking for very good news," Deputy Senate Majority Leader Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, said.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, threw out numbers like $1 billion for a budget surplus. The current surplus stands at $876 million and Wednesday's forecast will update that number released late last year.

"I think it will be positive," Zellers said.

The budget news will be a tightly guarded secret once the forecast is complete, but the Star Tribune quoted Commissioner Jim Schowalter of Minnesota Management and Budget as saying: "It's going to be zero or a negative number because we have so many debts to repay that it is very, very unlikely that we will have a surplus."

In odd-numbered years, legislators and the governor use the February forecast as they write a two-year budget. In even-numbered years like this, they look at the numbers to see if they need to tweak the budget.

Kline a target?

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann got most of the congressional attention after Minnesota's new political district lines were unveiled Tuesday, but a southern Twin Cities congressman's situation caught The Washington Post's eye.

A Post blog, The Fix, reports that in Minnesota "the biggest change affects Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who has not been a top Democratic target in recent years but may be now; he saw his Republican-leaning 2nd district south of the Twin Cities shift about three points towards Democrats."

Kline's district lost a good Republican county in the southwestern Twin Cities and gained some strong Democratic territory in the St. Paul area.

"Democrats have not recruited a top opponent yet for Kline, who survived pretty easily in 2006 and 2008 despite some lean years for Republicans," The Fix reports.

Kline is Minnesota's top-ranking member of Congress as chairman of the House education and labor committee.

TPaw not running

Apparently people don't believe Tim Pawlenty's frequent statements that he does not want to be vice president: He still is being asked the question.

"The answer is I'm not going to be considering that and I've taken myself off the list," the former Minnesota governor told Fox News.

He has said the same thing since he left the Republican presidential race in August after a poor Iowa straw poll showing, but journalists and others keep talking about it.

If Pawlenty's favorite candidate, Mitt Romney, wins the nomination, "he's going to have a lot of great people to pick from," the Eagan resident said.

Pawlenty was not happy with the situation four years ago when John McCain considered him as a running mate, eventually picking Sarah Palin despite Pawlenty's extensive work for the GOP candidate.

Another stadium

The Vikings stadium debate steals all of the ink and airtime in the Minnesota Capitol, but the colorful St. Paul Saints baseball team also wants to new place to play.

The Saints, known for wild and playful promotions, want $27 million from the state for a new ball field east of downtown St. Paul. It has the "99 percent" support from Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, who leads the committee that recommends public works projects to fund.

The current Saints stadium, in western St. Paul, has hosted baseball tournaments with teams from around the state, and beyond. Saints' supporters like to pitch the new stadium as one that would help the entire state.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.

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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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