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Capitol Chatter: Johnson looks to buck history in governor race

Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner and Detroit Lakes native, is running for Minnesota governor is 2018. Submitted photo

ST. PAUL — This is not good news for Jeff Johnson, or anyone else who has lost a governor's race and wants a second chance.

"Only a handful of the more than five-dozen losing candidates for the office since statehood have been victorious on a subsequent attempt," politics trivia expert Eric Ostermeier of the University of Minnesota reported.

His review of campaign history comes after Hennepin County Commissioner Johnson announced he will try a second time for the governor's office. He lost to Mark Dayton in 2014.

Ostermeier, author of the Smart Politics blog, said that he found just five candidates that lost Minnesota gubernatorial races won a later race, and only two since 1932. Rudy Perpich won in 1982 after a 1978 general election loss to Al Quie and Dayton took the win in 2010 following a fourth place showing in the 1998 Democratic primary.

The most recent candidate who who could not rebound was former Attorney General Mike Hatch, who ran and lost n 1990, 1994 and 2006.

Johnson finished 5.6 points behind Dayton last time around. In an interview, he said he will conduct his 2018 campaign differently.

Mutilation bill stalls

Sen. Karin Housley wants more answers before taking up her female genital mutilation bill.

The measure easily passed the House with a bill sponsored by Rep. Mary Franson. However, some questions arose about how doctors and prosecutors felt about the issue. And some people in societies where the procedure is common say penalties of up to 20 years in prison for allowing it done to young girls may be too high.

Housley said she would prefer to wait until the 2018 legislative session so there was time for more investigation.

The procedure, also known as female circumcision, is conducted in several societies, especially in northern Africa and the Middle East.

'Profoundly disturbed' with Trump

Sen. Al Franken did not mince words after President Donald Trump was accused of disclosing classified information to Russian diplomats.

"I'm profoundly disturbed by the reports that President Trump shared highly classified information with Russian officials in the Oval Office a day after he fired FBI Director James Comey, the man in charge of investigating the president's ties to Russia," Franken said, echoing words of many others in Washington. "Let me be clear: President Trump is endangering our national security. By revealing highly classified material to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador about the fight against ISIS, he is eroding the intelligence-gathering and -sharing relationship between the U.S. and our allies, who may now be far more hesitant to share that intelligence with us in the future."

Official warns of fraud

Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman warns about a scam in which Minnesotans are contacted about unclaimed property.

He said that scammers may call, email or send letters, often asking for payments and personal information, saying the person then can get their property or money.

"These communications may look or sound official, so it's important to be vigilant," Rothman said. "It's natural for people to be excited if someone offers money that supposedly belongs to them."

Rothman said people never should pay in advance or provide personal information when they are contacted.

Unclaimed property includes forgotten bank accounts, stocks and bonds, insurance benefits, safe deposit box contents, utility or rent deposits and uncashed paychecks.

Such items are turned over to the state if the owner cannot be found.

Dayton humor

Dayton may not be a stand-up comic, but he and his staff sometimes come up with good ones.

The other day he informed reporters asking about his relationship with Republican legislative leaders: "Politics is a playground where you don't get to pick your playmates. You just deal with whoever shows up."

Then there was his daily schedule, which his office send every day, always indicating whether the press can cover an event. "From 9:30am - 10:00am on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, Governor Mark Dayton will attend a dentist appointment. This meeting is closed to the press."

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.