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GOP official runs for chairmanship

ST. PAUL -- Longtime Minnesota Republican Party leader Tony Sutton is running to be party chairman.

The former Hibbing resident, who lives in the Twin Cities, said he is not happy with the party's direction.

"I have been frustrated by the philosophical and ideology drift our party has experienced in recent years," he said in a statement on his campaign Web site. "What was the party of fiscal responsibility doing? Spending money like drunken sailors in Washington. And what about the party of traditional values? We had page-chasing congressmen and a 'wide-stance' senator."

Sutton is a St. Paul native, but lived in northeast Minnesota's Hibbing while he attended high school. It was in that Democratic-leaning area that Sutton became involved in Republican politics, going door to door when Ronald Reagan defeated Minnesota's Walter Mondale for president.

He first rose to GOP leadership jobs in college, and has been the party's executive director two times and now is its secretary-treasurer.

Sutton is chief executive officer of Baja Sol Restaurant Group, a Mexican restaurant chain.

Current chairman Ron Carey has not announced whether he is running for re-election. The State Central Committee will pick the chairman in June.

Dean Barkley needs money

Former Sen. Dean Barkley, who finished a distant third in the 2008 U.S. Senate race, wants donations to pay campaign bills.

"Unfortunately I have to do something that I did everything to avoid," he wrote to supporters. "I need to ask for your help covering some unanticipated costs that the campaign incurred at the end of the race. I know that asking for money to retire debt is that last thing that a candidate wants to do, but I am asking you one last time to make a contribution to help with these costs."

Money coming

Federal funds will give unemployed Minnesotans $25 a week more starting March 15.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced the federal money will be available through year's end.

Out-of-work Minnesotans do not need to take any action to get the money; it will be part of the regular unemployment insurance process.

Decide trial winner

Really into the Senate trial? Now you can do something.

The National Wildlife Federation's Web site ( includes a "seat the senator" game in which Americans can pick the winner between Norm Coleman and Al Franken and the day the election will be decided. And if there is a tie (in the federation's contest, not the Senate race), the winner will be decided based on the question: "What color tie will the new senator be wearing?"

Birthday in trial

Norm Coleman's lead Senate election trial attorney, Joe Friedberg, marked his birthday by wrapping his team's case in the trial.

Friedberg, a legendary Twin Cities criminal defense attorney and Coleman friend, turned 72.

"Just as long as I'm not here on my next birthday," Friedberg said. The trial is in its sixth week.

Bakk comes up

Among voters whose absentee votes were not counted in the U.S. Senate election was Andrea Bakk of Grand Lake Township, daughter-in-law of state Sen. Tom Bakk.

The information arose in the U.S. Senate trial and brought chuckles in the courtroom because her last name is well known in St. Louis County, whose elections officials testified.

The senator is running for governor.

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.