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Capitol Chatter: Walz running mate a White Earth member

Minnesota state Rep. Peggy Flanagan, front and center, on May 24, 2017, joined protest of Republican-written budget legislation. On Oct. 5, 2017, she was named running mate for Democratic governor candidate Tim Walz. Don Davis / Forum News Service1 / 3
Peggy Flanagan of St. Louis Park is the running mate of U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who is running for Minnesota governor. Minnesota House Democrats photo2 / 3
Don Davis of Forum News Service3 / 3

ST. PAUL — U.S. Rep. Tim Walz became the first Minnesota governor candidate to pick a running mate, and if elected lieutenant governor she would become the highest ranking female American Indian office holder in any state.

State Rep. Peggy Flanagan of St. Louis Park joined the ticket of the Democratic governor hopeful.

After a Thursday night, Oct. 5, emailed news release about the decision, the pair set off on a tour of Minneapolis, Rochester, Mankato, Duluth, Hibbing, Bemidji, Moorhead and St. Cloud.

Flanagan, 38, is in her second Minnesota House term. She is a member of western Minnesota's White Earth Band, although she was raised in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. She is a longtime political activist. Last year, she became the first female American Indian to address a national party convention.

Walz is from Mankato, and adding Flanagan adds a Twin Cities politician to balance the ticket.

"Whether it's the students in his classroom, the players on his team or the soldiers that he served with, I think that Tim really sees the full humanity in the folks around him," Flanagan said.

Walz and Flanagan met in 2005, when he attended a Camp Wellstone training session in which Flanagan was an instructor about how to knock on doors in his first congressional campaign. Camp Wellstone is a candidate training program established on campaign philosophies of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone.

Conservatives immediately attacked the Walz pick.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for life, for instance, picked on her abortion stance.

"Rep. Flanagan's voting record has proven her to be an advocate of unlimited abortion," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "On the issue of abortion, her record aligns perfectly with Rep. Walz. They both put the abortion industry's extreme agenda of abortion on demand ahead of protection for innocent unborn babies."

Amazon attracts gimmicks

Minnesota does not appear ready to send Amazon a cactus. Or erect giant Amazon delivery boxes around the Twin Cities. Or establish Amazon, Minn.

Others are using whatever gimmicks they can to lure what would be a lucrative addition.

But Minnesota's attempt to lure the giant online company's second headquarters and 50,000 jobs that would come with it is quiet.

It may be appropriate because Minnesota already is home to a couple of Amazon's major competitors, Target and Best Buy, and government officials do not want to offend them.

Gov. Mark Dayton promised a "restrained" effort to attract Amazon. That is not how things are going elsewhere, CNN reports.

For instance, Tucson, Arizona, sent a 21-foot Saguaro cactus to Amazon, although instead of accepting it Amazon donated it because it has a rule of not accepting gifts.

Then there is Birmingham, Alabama, which has put three giant Amazon "deliver boxes" around the city, with more on the way. In Stonecrest, Georgia, city officials promise to turn 345 acres into Amazon, Georgia, if the headquarters moves there.

Canadian communities are preparing bids to Amazon that emphasize their country's stable immigration policy that could help the massive business find employees.

Few details have emerged about specifics for Minnesota's bid. However, it will be for the Twin Cities because (sorry, greater Minnesota), because Amazon requires a community of at least a million people.

Pawlenty: Still retired

Noise has increased among Minnesota Republicans about former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a one-time presidential candidate, getting into the state's 2018 governor race.

The two-term governor appears to be trying to tamp down that speculation.

On Twitter, he said: "Appreciate encouragement from friends, but I am politically retired. No change in status."

However, political observers have noted that while he says he is retired now, his status still could change.

I'm running, goodbye

Minnesota state Sen. Carla Nelson's U.S. House campaign got off to a rather rough start.

She scheduled her announcement for Monday, Oct. 2, but when she took to the stage she said little and took no reporter questions, saying the morning after the Las Vegas shootings were not the time for politics.

A couple of days later her campaign sent a link to a video with her announcement, but at first the link went to a dead web page.

Nelson, a Republican, wants to replace U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat running for the governor's office. He had his own rough spot.

The Walz campaign sent out a news release announcing his running mate, a release that did not hit inboxes until after 8 p.m. Thursday. That made it too late to be printed in many Friday newspapers.

Don Davis
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.