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Prettner Solon wants ethanol answers

ST. PAUL -- The latest two major lieutenant governor candidates know E85, but one wants to know more about the topic.

Yvonne Prettner Solon understands about E85, a stumbling block for some other lieutenant governor candidates, but when she was introduced as Mark Dayton's running mate she stopped short of giving the plant-based ethanol fuel her full support.

The DFL state senator said questions remain about things such as how much water is needed to produce ethanol.

"We need to clarify that," the Democratic candidate said.

Some environmentalists say the fuel, now mostly made from corn, loses its environmental advantage because so much water is needed to produce corn and ethanol. Prettner Solon wrote several environmental bills during her time in the state Senate.

Even with the questions, the Duluth state senator said, ethanol is important to the state: "We need to continue down this path."

The Capitol press corps asks most lieutenant governor candidates about E85 after DFL candidate Judi Dutcher flubbed an answer to the question in 2006, which indirectly may have led to the loss she and Mike Hatch suffered to Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau.

E85, for the record, is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Minnesota leads the country in its use and state laws encourage ethanol production.

That is just how DFL candidate Matt Entenza's running mate defined E85. However, Robyne Robinson deflected further questions on the subject "to another day."

Robinson has been a reporter 20 years at the Twin Cities Fox television station, where the secret about her running was kept until the announcement was made. However, before Entenza picked her, she already had planned to leave the station last Wednesday night.

Emmer plans meetings

Republican governor candidate Tom Emmer announced his campaign will hold a series of "freedom and prosperity project" meetings around the state, an effort to get public input before he announces specific plans for what he would do if elected.

Emmer promised to "listen, then listen again and only then to talk." His campaign manager, fellow state Rep. Mark Buesgens, and his running mate, Annette Meeks, head the project. Emmer said he will attend some of the meetings.

Meeks said 10 to 20 of the "listening sessions" are planned each week this summer and fall.

While Emmer said his campaign will listen to anyone at the meetings, business and community leaders will be specifically invited. He gave no indication that he would stray from his smaller government and low taxes theme, regardless of what those at the meetings say.

"Leadership is leading people to where they need to be," Emmer said.

A specific meeting list has not been released, but the campaign promises to make the list public once it is ready. Meeks said the meetings are in the Twin Cities area this week, but will reach to the rest of the state beginning next week.

Meetings will be of two types, Meeks said: about specific topics and town hall-style "free-for-all" meetings.

"This is the centerpiece of the Emmer campaign for governor," Meeks said.

Bachmannsees merger

One of the new conservative movement's stars says that people who have not been involved in politics are becoming activists.

These are people "who just want to live their lives," U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said this morning just after filing paperwork to run for a third term.

Bachmann said the disenchanted people come from many political persuasions. Many are part of the conservative-libertarian Tea Party movement.

Tea Party followers look like they are merging with the Republican Party, she added, becoming the pulse of the GOP.

Bachmann said she has heard discontent with government across Minnesota, and elsewhere. But before her party can take over the U.S. House, she said, "Republicans will have to give a positive solution."

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.