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 -- If Iran was behind the deaths of three Minnesota National Guard soldiers, already rocky relations with the United States could become worse, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Sunday from the Middle East. An Iraqi police official says his department arrested a man with Iranian connections in the Thursday attack that killed Spc. Daniel P. Drevnick, 22, of Woodbury, Spc. James Wertish, 20, of Olivia and Spc. Carlos E. Wilcox IV, 27, of Cottage Grove.
STILLWATER, Minn. - News reports from Iraq detail an arrest in a Thursday attack that killed three Minnesota National Guard soldiers and injured another. The Associated Press reported that the Basra police chief said a man confessed early Saturday to the attack that killed Spc. Daniel P. Drevnick, 22, of Woodbury, Spc. James Wertish, 20, of Olivia and Spc. Carlos E. Wilcox IV, 27, of Cottage Grove. The attack appeared to be from a missile or mortar shell. American military spokesmen would not confirm the arrest and offered few details of the attack.
ST PAUL -- Health officials are preparing for a pandemic flu that kills many Minnesotans. Or a flu almost no one notices. Or something in between. "Anything could happen," said John Stine, assistant Minnesota Health Department commissioner. "There is no way of giving you a forecast." The current pandemic flu strain has sickened millions, killing 94,000 worldwide and 34,000 in the United States. But Stine and other Minnesota health leaders fear it could get far worse if the current flu virus mutates as has happened in the past. "It's now everywhere," Stine said.
ST. PAUL -- When the new flu began to spread, since it was called swine flu, many people were concerned about catching it from hogs. Now, however, some are concerned that swine may get sick from flu-infected people, especially at local and state fairs. The Minnesota Health Department's Buddy Ferguson said: "Don't bring your swine to the fair if they are sick and don't go to the fair if you are sick." A letter state health and Board of Animal Health officials sent to fair managers and veterinarians said any hog that appears to have flu-like symptoms must immediately be sent home.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota election experts say the state's election law is among the best in the country, but the protracted U.S. Senate race proves it can be improved. The state needs to instill more confidence and stability into the absentee ballot process, Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, told a University of Minnesota forum. "It is highly irregular and inappropriate" to allow candidates' campaigns to reject specific absentee ballots, as current state law allows, Rest said during her address Friday.
FRIDLEY -- Marty Seifert may have held the first, but many other Republican governor rallies will follow between now and election day on Nov. 2, 2010. The Marshall state representative opened his official campaign for governor Tuesday, hosting about 100 supporters in a northern Twin Cities suburban factory, then leaving in a motorhome to visit 13 other cities in four days.
ST. PAUL - In politics, it is all about winning. Take, for instance, Al Franken's razor-thin victory over Norm Coleman in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race. The day after the state Supreme Court ruled in Franken's favor, making him Minnesota's newest senator, Brian Melendez, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party chairman proclaimed: "Our election system in Minnesota works." His comments, delivered to a Franken rally, brought loud and long cheers.
ST. PAUL -- "Live, from Washington, it's Sen. Al Franken!" That may not be Minnesota senator-elect's line, but on Wednesday hundreds of supporters got a glimpse of a looser Al Franken than has surfaced in quite some time. He thanked Minnesotans for putting him in the U.S. Senate, promising, "I'm not going to waste that chance." The party on the state Capitol's front lawn came 23 hours after the Minnesota Supreme Court released a ruling declaring Democrat Franken beat Republican Norm Coleman by 312 votes in Nov. 4's U.S. Senate election.
ST. PAUL -- Nearly 3 million Minnesotans voted for a U.S. Senate candidate eight months ago, but in the end only five votes counted, those state Supreme Court justices who Tuesday decided Al Franken will be the state's second U.S. senator. The high court's unanimous decision gave Franken a 312-vote victory and convinced Norm Coleman to end his re-election battle, sending Franken to Washington and giving Democrats 60 Senate votes, the most dominate voting bloc in 30 years.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty's decision to make unilateral budget cuts could cost up to 4,700 jobs across Minnesota, the state economist on Tuesday told legislative leaders. In a confrontational meeting, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, disputed some of those numbers. She told State Economist Tom Stinson that he undershot the number of jobs that school districts will be forced to cut, perhaps by several hundred. Stinson said up to 600 of the 4,700 job loses would come from schools.