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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Another wave of Minnesota National Guard soldiers will return home this week after an extended deployment in Iraq. More than 700 Minnesota National Guard Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division -- the "Red Bulls" -- will return to 10 armories around the state. That includes eight Northland members of the unit who will return to the Duluth National Guard Armory on Airpark Boulevard sometime after 1 p.m.
Freshman U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat serving southern Minnesota, says there is no way he will challenge U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman next year. "No means no," he said, reacting to repeated rumors that he will enter the race against Democrats Al Franken, Mike Ciresi and others. But, Walz said, he understands why people ask him: "There is somewhat of a concern right now that none of our candidates have won a federal race." "The frustration with Sen. Coleman is almost so thick you can almost cut it with a knife," he added.
Minnesota will receive $500,000 to improve math and science education. Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced the grant from the National Governors' Association, which he leads for the next year. "This grant helps us continue our work to ensure that even more students understand the role math and science can play in their future success," Pawlenty said.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota's Democratic activists are taking sides in the Al Franken-Mike Ciresi Democratic race for U.S. Senate 16 months before the election. Both candidates, the two leading Democrats for the post, are touting endorsements they are receiving from legislators and others. Franken plays up his Teamsters endorsement, adding it to an earlier United Steelworkers announcement of support. The comedian and radio talk show host also produced names of legislators in his corner, including Rep. Tom Anzelc of Balsam Township, the first Iron Range legislator to endorse Franken.
There was a lot of discussion in some quarters last week about the possibility Minnesota will lose a congressional seat after the 2010 census. That was not news to people who follow national politics because mostly rural states have lost congressional seats to the rapidly growing urban states for decades. If the federal census were taken now, Minnesota State Demographer Tom Gillaspy says the state would lose one of its eight U.S. House members.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's premier rural economic development program has come under fire on two more fronts. A new left-leaning think tank called the Job Opportunity Building Zones program "ineffectual." And southern Minnesota firms took JOBZ to court, saying it gave their competitors advantages by offering big tax breaks. The program already has survived one court challenge. The new think tank, called Minnesota 2020, issued a report claming the state spends too much time luring big manufacturing plants to rural Minnesota and offering tax breaks under JOBZ. A long-time St.
ST. PAUL - Judges could be for sale to campaign contributors if Minnesota follows other states and judicial campaigns begin soliciting big donors, the state chief justice told fellow lawyers Friday. "Minnesotans do not want judges to be beholden to special interest groups," Russell Anderson said during his annual State of the Judiciary speech to the Minnesota State Bar Association. "Minnesota has a lot to lose. Let it not be said it was lost on our watch." Anderson has talked about the issue of money in judicial campaigns for the year and a half he has been Minnesota's top judge.
Laws and constitutions vary from state to state, former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer recently pointed out while interviewing Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty on a radio talk show. They were discussing some of Pawlenty's vetoes, which came after he told lawmakers in writing he would reject the bills. Schafer sounded a bit envious when he told Pawlenty that in North Dakota, it is illegal to threaten a veto.
Democratic challengers for Minnesota's U.S. Senate seat may be getting most of the political attention these days, but the incumbent is trying to be visible, too. Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, recently launched a new Web site -- www.ColemanforSenate.com . In a letter to supporters, Coleman introduced the Web site and asked for donations.
ST. PAUL - Most people agree U.S. Sen.