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 -- Aug. 10's Democratic-Farmer-Laborite governor primary election is tough to handicap. Polls ranking the three major DFL candidates often have put Mark Dayton ahead, but there are so many unknowns this year. Candidates Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Matt Entenza and Dayton each say they are targeting likely voters; the problem is knowing who is likely to vote. Most political observers say the only sure thing is that senior citizens will dominate the election. They always are most likely to vote, but this year it could be even more so.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Improving education demands more money, Minnesota's top three Democratic governor candidates say, a tough challenge when the next state budget could face a $6 billion deficit. The three promote different ideas about school funding: l Mark Dayton promises to tax the rich, providing enough money to pump more into education every year he is governor. l Matt Entenza said that while education is his top priority, significant new money must wait until the state budget and economy improve, although policies may be changed in the meantime. l Margaret Anderson Kelliher falls between
ST. PAUL -- Conditions in Iraq are improving, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Wednesday during an unannounced visit. "There is a hopeful sense here, a more stable sense here than some of my recent previous trips," the governor said. Military leaders invited Pawlenty, in Iraq for the fifth time, and four other governors to visit Iraq. Their trip is to continue, but Pawlenty said he was not allowed to reveal future stops. South Dakota Gov.
Farming future leaves much to the imagination RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- Agriculture of the future will be "Star Trek" meets "Green Acres." Experts predict that within 25 years little robots will roam fields zapping weeds, testing soil and turning plant genes on and off to fit the conditions, a bit like mechanical helpers on the starship Enterprise. At the same time, some Americans will continue to feel a need to work the land, and smell the soil, while bouncing up and down on a tractor seat, as Oliver Wendell Douglas did on the farm comedy.
ST. PAUL -- Politics may make strange bedfellows, but it also makes strange stage fellows. When Minnesota's chief justice and a new Supreme Court justice were sworn in a few days ago, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and a judge he has frequently, publically and strongly criticized sat near each other. Ramsey County District Judge Kathleen Gearin hosted the event, which was near her courthouse in downtown St. Paul.
ST. PAUL -- Republicans most fear Mark Dayton in the governor's race. Dayton brings the best name recognition of any candidate of any party, thanks in a good share to his family's department store roots. He has been running for more than a year and he has put in years in highly visible U.S. Senate and state offices. Worst of all, from the Republican view, is Dayton has money, and plenty of it (although Dayton says he is spending down his department store fortune and sold some paintings to help his finances). For years, the department store that bore his family name was a Minnesota staple.
ST. PAUL -- If they are Democrats, they must be talking about jobs. Creating jobs traditionally is a key Democratic-Farmer-Laborite campaign issue, and the 2010 governors' primary race is no exception.
ROSEVILLE - Ol' Mexico Restaurante and Cantina likely never has been as rowdy as Wednesday when governor candidate Tom Emmer met with food and beverage servers upset with him. Emmer supporters and detractors exchanged jeers and cheers for an hour, before an opponent to Arizona's new immigration law slid in behind Emmer and dumped a bag of pennies on the Republican state representative and a public address system failure ended the meeting prematurely. The Republican-endorsed candidate admitted the penny protester surprised him -- "I almost jumped out of my shoes" -- but promised he would walk
ST. PAUL -- Tom Emmer's assertion that restaurant servers may make $100,000 a year provided politicians, commentators and political reporters plenty to chew on in recent days. His comment came as he called for a law change to lower the minimum wage for workers who receive tips. The tip issue regularly surfaces at the Legislature, but the $100,000 salary claim is new, and especially newsworthy coming from Minnesota's chief Republican governor candidate. Most other governor candidates immediately criticized Emmer, easily the most conservative major candidate in the field.