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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WILLMAR, Minn.—Some would like to think that the road to control of the Minnesota Legislature goes through Willmar. Maybe so, maybe not. But a state House race there, expected to be very close, is a good example of where that control may be decided in rural districts around the state.
ST. PAUL—Voters will face more than two choices for president on Nov. 8, even though just two are well funded enough to have a chance. Minnesota voters see candidates from the Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Constitution, Independence, Legal Marijuana Now, the Socialist Workers and the American Delta parties. Other than Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the candidates lack enough money to make much of an impression.
ST. PAUL—Look at history and it would appear Democrats will control the Minnesota Legislature next year. After all, Democrats have won control of the Senate in every presidential election year since 1992. And House Democrats came out on top in four of the six most recent presidential years. Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party voters have a tradition of turning out in greater numbers when the presidential race is on the ballot than in other years. When they show up to vote for their presidential candidate, they usually vote for other Democrats on down the ballot.
GRAND RAPIDS, Minn.—Rep. Tom Anzelc sat in a coffee shop talking about his re-election campaign when a woman interrupted to say how good a job the Democrat has done for his northern Minnesota House district over the years. An hour later, first-time candidate Republican Sandy Layman was sitting in another Grand Rapids coffee shop when a woman came up: "Are you Sandy Layman? We are voting for you. You do a good job."
ST. PAUL—The two major presidential candidates appear to agree on something. Hillary Clinton: "America's rural communities lie at the heart of what makes this country great." Donald Trump: "Growing our farm sector and supporting our nation's farmers are absolutely critical steps to making America great again." The two short quotes from Democrat Clinton and Republican Trump are more than most Americans hear about rural issues in the campaign, so the two apparently agree that rural issues are not critical enough to their chances on Nov. 8 to talk about them much.
ST. PAUL—"The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people." Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton had not even finished the sentence when political reporters knew they had a story. After all, Dayton has been a strong proponent of the federal health care law, better known as Obamacare, and pushed to establish a state online health insurance sales portal. That MNsure operation is Minnesotans' connection to Obamacare.
ST. PAUL—Workers have replaced nearly 6,000 deteriorated marble pieces on the Minnesota Capitol building's outside walls as part of a comprehensive $310 million inside and outside renovation project. They also made about 20,000 other repairs to the exterior. The marble work wrapped up in the past week when the final new marble piece was placed in an arch above the building's main entrance. The replacement was a milestone as work begins to wrap up in anticipation of the Capitol's Jan. 3 reopening.
ST. PAUL—Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton do not talk much about rural issues on the campaign trail, but there is plenty of evidence showing they differ greatly on the subject. Trump generally buys into traditional Republican ideas and Clinton embraces Democratic principles. And perhaps nothing illustrates the contrast better than how they stand on federal government regulations, an issue common among farmers and miners, energy workers and homeowners. Both sides say they will work with those who affected by regulations, but that is about where the agreement ends.
Grand Rapids Police Chief Scott Johnson, co-chairman of the council, said there is no one-size-fits-all solution. "I believe that all policing is done at the neighborhood level," Johnson said. "What works in one neighborhood may not work in another neighborhood. Having said that, I don't think this stuff is all that complicated."
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's governor says a President Barack Obama inspired health-care law needs work. "The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people," Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday, Oct. 12, while encouraging state and federal lawmakers to make changes. Soaring health insurance costs are a "very serious problem," Dayton told reporters seeking reaction to his administration's recent announcement that individual health insurance policies' premiums will jump 50 percent to 67 percent next year.