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.
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—Minnesota precinct caucus leaders ran out of ballots as long lines of people waited to get into the political meetings, with drivers in blocks-long traffic jams not even there yet. About 300 showed up at a Willmar site that hosted 75 four years earlier. That was 2016. Don't expect the same turnout at the 2018 caucuses on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Chairman Ken Martin of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party said the caucuses will draw thousands, but short of the record 321,354 that came two years ago.
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—A side effect of any big event like the Super Bowl is sex trafficking. "We know that there's going to be a million-plus people coming into the Twin Cities," Minneapolis Police Sgt. Grant Snyder recently told a Minneapolis City Council committee. "Unfortunately, some of those people, and it has nothing to do with the Super Bowl, are going to engage in the purchase, or attempt to purchase, commercial sex."
ST. PAUL—Gov. Mark Dayton might support borrowing more than $2.3 billion for public works projects this year, his last in elective office. He announced a $1.5 billion proposal Tuesday, Jan. 16, but the governor's office also reports that he feels $858 million in local projects "merit state investments," but he did not include them in his proposal. The public works proposal, known as the bonding bill, is looking to be much like other plans Dayton has released since taking office in 2011: He calls for big bonding bills while Republicans want to shrink them.