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GOP governor candidates hold their own

Political Notebook

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota governor's race looks to be close, with a new poll giving Republicans reason to smile.

The poll shows that Republican state Reps. Marty Seifert of Marshall and Tom Emmer of Delano hold their own against better-known Democrats, a sign of what some are saying will be a good GOP election year.

For Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidates, the Rasmussen poll seems to indicate that three would play strong against Seifert and Emmer: former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

Rasmussen reports that Emmer and Seifert match-ups with any of the top three Democrats are virtual ties, with something close to 20 percent of voters not sure who they would pick.

Republicans put on an even better showing when pitted against other Democrats, state Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook, state Rep. Tom Rukavina of Virginia and former state Rep. Matt Entenza of St. Paul.

One point in the poll sure to bolster Republican attitudes is that it appears fewer know Emmer and Seifert than know Dayton, Kelliher and Rybak, but the GOP candidates still do better.

The state conventions are little more than a month away. GOP delegates say they will abide by their convention's decision, but Dayton and Entenza likely will challenge the convention-endorsed candidate in an Aug. 10 primary.

Pawlenty ready

Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he is ready to deal with an adverse court decision about his power to unilaterally cut the budget.

The state Supreme Court hears arguments this morning in a case challenging Pawlenty's summer decision to eliminate a meal program for the needy. While the case technically is only about the $5 million program, a district court ruling against Pawlenty puts his entire $2.7 billion budget-cutting action into question.

When reporters asked him if he was ready for a high court ruling that goes against him, Pawlenty replied: "We have those plans in place. ... We have gone through 10 different scenarios."

A loss would "put Minnesota in a very difficult spot," he said, adding that it "would force us to cut spending even more."

More Cuba sales?

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, both Minnesota Democrats, want more food and other exports to Cuba.

Existing law restricts sales to the communist island country.

"American farmers can greatly benefit from access to new markets in Cuba at a time when our economy needs it most," Klobuchar said. "This bill will create jobs by promoting U.S. agriculture exports. In addition, Cubans and Americans will be able to engage in open communication, an important step towards improving relations between our two nations."

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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.