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—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—A Minnesota woman is back for her second stint as state health commissioner with instructions to fix the state's failed nursing home abuse investigation process. Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday, Jan. 30, appointed Jan Malcolm to lead the Health Department as it struggles to get through a backlog of complaints about mistreatment of Minnesota elderly in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
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.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota would seem to have an outsized influence on the next farm bill. Both of the state's senators are on that body's Agriculture Committee and three of the state's eight congressmen are on the House farm panel, including Rep. Collin Peterson, the top-ranking Democrat and former chairman. All Minnesotans on the committees are Democrats, in a Congress controlled by Republicans. However, agriculture policy, including the farm bill, usually is decided on a bipartisan basis.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota state Senate President Michelle Fischbach calls herself "acting lieutenant governor," but has not talked publicly about the job she just inherited. The Republican senator issued a statement Wednesday, Jan. 3, giving no indication that she plans to be an active No. 2 to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
WASHINGTON — Tina Smith raised her right hand and swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, replacing Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken after a series of allegations that he engaged in sexual misconduct. She took her oath at 11:04 a.m. Central time Wednesday, Jan. 3, becoming the 22nd female senator. That is a record number of women serving at the same time in the 100-member body. Smith was sworn in along with Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat elected in a special election last month.