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 — Once upon a time, Republican candidates would not speak ill of another candidate in the party. These days, forget that. Take the Tim Pawlenty-Jeff Johnson race for the GOP nomination for Minnesota governor. Here are two politicians who have been considered nice guys. But a month before the Aug. 14 primary election, they are treating each other like Republicans might treat Democrats. Or vice versa.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota is a battlefield in a war pitting the United States against trading partners. President Donald Trump on Friday, July 6, tacked 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of goods China sells in the United States. Trump says the tariffs eventually may cover up to $550 billion worth of Chinese products. China responded by slapping its own tariffs on American goods to be sold in China. "It is certainly much more threatening situation than I have seen in my lifetime," professor Robert Kudrle of the University of Minnesota said.
ST. PAUL—U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar left no doubt about what she thought of the federal Environmental Protection Agency administrator's resignation: "Finally." That was the Democrat's prompt Thursday, July 5, reaction on Twitter to President Donald Trump's tweet that he had accepted Scott Pruitt's resignation. U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., was almost as succinct: "Good riddance."
ST. PAUL — Minnesota is suing the maker of the best-known opioid painkiller, OxyCotin, claiming it mislead health care professionals and patients alike. "Prescription painkillers can be helpful in relieving pain when properly used and prescribed, but this company misrepresented and minimized the addictive nature of its drugs in order to sell more of them," Attorney General Lori Swanson said about Purdue Pharma on Monday, July 2.
WASHINGTON—Farmers usually worry about the weather and how much they will be paid for crops and livestock, but this summer many have a bigger worry: What federal officials will do for—or to—them. Farm-state lawmakers who deal with federal agriculture policy every day can do nothing to relieve farmer concerns. "No one has any answers and no one knows what is going on because things change every day," said U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, who serves western Minnesota and is the top House agriculture Democrat. "Every single aspect of agriculture is up in the air."
WASHINGTON—Federal farm-state lawmakers say they are happy that final negotiations can begin on a farm bill that funds agriculture programs and food stamps. Senators passed their $428 billion farm bill 86-11 Thursday, June 28. The bipartisan vote contrasts with the House vote that narrowly passed last week with no Democratic support. U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., had said that the only good thing about the House bill's passage was that it paved the way for negotiations once the Senate passed its bill. He is the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee.
ST. PAUL—Many Minnesota businesses could benefit and taxpayers could see a $150 million windfall after a U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring most websites to collect sales taxes from online shoppers. "It is about main street fairness," Minnesota House Tax Chairman Greg Davids, R-Preston, said after the high court released its ruling Thursday, June 21. What puzzled Davids was why the high court voted 5-4 instead of 9-0. "It should be such an easy thing."
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon may have said it best: "What a day to be in the democracy business." Simon, whose office runs state elections, was in the center of Minnesota's political world Tuesday, June 5, as the first Muslim in Congress decided to run for attorney general in what turned into a crowded Democratic primary election contest. Six Democrats are running in the Aug. 14 primary election. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minneapolis attracted nationwide attention with his decision.
ROCHESTER, Minn.—Democratic governor candidate Erin Murphy picked as her running mate a first-term state legislator who gained wide attention for a 24-hour sit-in protest about gun violence. Erin Maye Quade will be the lieutenant governor candidate, Murphy announced to the Democratic state convention Sunday, June 3. The convention endorsed Maye Quade, finalizing the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party ballot for the Aug. 14 primary election.
ROCHESTER, Minn.—Erin Murphy left the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party convention its endorsed candidate, only to face a familiar opponent in the Aug. 14 primary election. Delegates gave her unanimous support, but only after U.S. Rep. Tim Walz withdrew from the endorsement. He plans to challenge her in the primary election. Murphy, a St. Paul state representative, made no mention of Walz when she spoke to delegates after she won the endorsement. "Together, we are unstoppable," Murphy said.