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Minnesota House Gas Tax Increase In Step With Statewide Majority View

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In the seven weeks since its initial House approval in late March, the DFL found 7 more votes in a bill passage earlier this week that would raise the state's gas tax by a nickel per gallon to a potential (though unlikely) veto-proof majority.

In March, there were 4 DFL defectors in opposition to the bill, and 5 GOP defectors in support of it. On Monday, there were just 2 DFL defectors voting against and 7 GOP defectors voting in favor of the legislation. The net result is a 90-43 majority on a bill destined to be vetoed by Governor Tim Pawlenty.

A recent poll sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio found a bare majority of Gopher State residents (51 percent) supported the 5-cent per gallon increase to pay for improvements to roads and bridges. Forty-five percent of Minnesotans opposed the increase.

Despite Pawlenty's veto of the legislation on Tuesday, the MPR poll does not suggest there is overwhelming opposition to the increase, even among his Republican base. Just 50 percent of Republicans polled opposed the nickel per gallon increase (with 43 percent in favor of it). This is a rather striking finding in the MPR poll, conducted May 7-9, considering the recent nationwide increase in gasoline prices during the past month.

Pawlenty, however, remains undaunted by the 90 votes stitched together by the DFL majority to gain the bill's passage. And rightfully so. The Governor only needs 1 of the 7 GOP-ers who voted for the legislation to switch his vote to sustain his veto - provided the DFL does not pick up any more support from its caucus along the way.

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Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


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