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 -- Western Minnesota's 2010 congressional race is under way, even without candidates. The state Republican Party launches a radio advertising campaign against Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson today, saying the 10-term congressman is out of touch with his district. With Republicans assuming he will run again, it is the first volley of a campaign in which Republicans promise to unseat Peterson, who has faced only a couple of close races since he first was elected. A Peterson comment claiming a quarter of his constituents link Sept.
ST. PAUL -- U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann appears to have appeal well outside her district. While her aides deny she is interested in running for governor, an analysis by the University of Minnesota's Smart Politics blog shows her financial reach extends outside of her 6th Congressional District, which stretches from St. Cloud through northern Twin Cities suburbs into the eastern Twin Cities area. Eric Ostermeier reports that the colorful and quotable Republican raised more individual contributions in the St. Paul-area district served by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum than did McCollum.
ST. PAUL - When the new flu began to spread, many people were concerned about catching it from hogs because it was called swine flu. Now some are concerned that swine may get sick from flu-infected people, especially at local and state fairs. Minnesota Health Department's Buddy Ferguson said: "Don't bring your swine to the fair if they are sick, and don't go to the fair if you are sick." A letter state health and Board of Animal Health officials sent to fair managers and veterinarians states any hog that appears to have flulike symptoms must immediately be sent home.
ST. PAUL -- If Iran was behind the deaths of three Minnesota National Guard soldiers, already rocky relations with the United States could become worse, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Sunday from the Middle East. An Iraqi police official said his department arrested a man with Iranian connections in the attack that killed Spec. Daniel P. Drevnick, 22, of Woodbury, Spc. James Wertish, 20, of Olivia and Spec. Carlos E. Wilcox IV, 27, of Cottage Grove Thursday at their Basra, Iraq, base. A fourth soldier, whom the military has not identified, was hurt.
ST. PAUL -- Health officials are preparing for a pandemic flu that kills many Minnesotans. Or a flu almost no one notices. Or something in between. "Anything could happen," said John Stine, assistant Minnesota Health Department commissioner. "There is no way of giving you a forecast." The current pandemic flu strain has sickened millions, killing 94,000 worldwide and 34,000 in the United States. But Stine and other Minnesota health leaders fear it could get far worse if the current flu virus mutates as has happened in the past. "It's now everywhere," Stine said.
ST. PAUL -- The future of Minnesota's largest-ever industrial development is in the hands of three state Appeals Court judges. Environmental groups want the judges to order state Department of Natural Resources officials to take a closer look at how Essar Steel Minnesota's planned $1.65 billion taconite mine and steel plant would affect global warming. The project near Nashwauk, on northeast Minnesota's Iron Range, is due to begin producing steel slabs by 2014. It will employ 500 people and state officials have compared its economic impact to Bloomington's Mall of America.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota election experts say the state's election law is among the best in the country, but the protracted U.S. Senate race proves it can be improved. The state needs to instill more confidence and stability into the absentee ballot process, Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, told a University of Minnesota forum Friday. "It is highly irregular and inappropriate" to allow candidates' campaigns to reject specific absentee ballots, as current state law allows, Rest said.
ST. PAUL - A new study shows what rural Minnesotans already knew: Gasoline takes a bigger bite out of their budgets than their city cousins. Research by the Center for Rural Policy and Development shows that if gasoline costs $3 a gallon, 7 percent of an average rural resident's income would go for gasoline. At the same price, 3.9 percent of an urbanite's pay would go to fuel. The biggest reason for the difference is in their income. The average rural resident earns $3,700 a month, compared to the urban salary of $5,557.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Senate's top Democrat wants a chance to respond to what Gov. Tim Pawlenty says on his weekly radio show.
WASHINGTON -- Al Franken became Minnesota's second U.S. senator today, his hand holding the Bible that Paul Wellstone used when he was twice sworn into the Senate. Vice President Joe Biden swore in Franken 246 days after the Nov. 4 election and 183 days since the 2009 Senate convened. The scene was the front of the U.S. Senate chamber. Accompanied by Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former senator and vice president Walter Mondale, Franken looked up at Biden and with the words "yes, I do" accepted the oath and became senator. He had nothing else to say.