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—Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty stole the spotlight from Republican candidates in the governor's race Tuesday, Feb. 6, hours before party loyalists gather to pick their favorite candidate in a straw poll. The two-term Republican governor made a surprise announcement Tuesday morning that he will leave the Financial Services Roundtable next month. As leader of the Washington-based group, Pawlenty has been spokesman and lobbyist for financial services companies.
ST. PAUL — Former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann said she does not feel God has called her to run for U.S. Senate, so is staying out of the race. Bachmann told a Minnesota radio host during the weekend that she asked God for guidance. "I just took it to the Lord in a very quiet way." But, she said, God did not tell her to run.
ST. PAUL—U.S. Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota delivered the national Democratic weekly address one day short of a month in office. The senator Gov. Mark Dayton appointed to replace Al Franken in Washington said in the video released Friday, Feb. 2, that she is open to working with Republicans. At the same time, she was critical of them.
ST. PAUL — A high school junior leads an effort to prevent sex trafficking around Minnesota. Jessica Melnik of Hopkins High School founded Girls United Minnesota after she and friends saw one of their classmates being trafficked. Now, she is pushing state legislation to modify current sexual abuse prevention law to include sexual exploitation prevention education in schools. "This is a small, but we think common sense step," state Sen. Paul Anderson, R-Plymouth, said of the bill he will offer.
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.
BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—There was no confusing Minnesota Republican governor candidates for Democrats in a forum at the Minnesota Newspaper Association convention on Friday, Jan. 26. GOP candidates at the forum, also sponsored by the Center for Rural Policy and Development,, generally stayed close to Republican lower-tax and lower-spending concepts.
BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—Minnesota's Democratic governor candidates generally agree on policies affecting greater Minnesota, ranging from spending more money for affordable housing to making it more enticing for young people to obtain two-year degrees. On many issues, they differ only to a matter of degree. Differences and similarities became clear Friday, Jan. 26, as members of the Minnesota Newspaper Association listened to a governors' candidate forum. Questions came from reporters and the Center for Rural Policy and Development.
ST. PAUL — The 2018 election remains more than nine months away, but a Feb. 6 event likely will give birth to some political campaign favorites. That will be caucus night, when Democrats and Republicans gather across Minnesota conduct party business. They will elect local party leaders, pick delegates for future conventions and pick their favorite candidates in straw polls. The delegates and straw polls, in particular, are key to the governor's race.
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.