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March 2009


Pawlenty Faces 4th Largest Democratic-Dominated Legislature Among GOP Governors Nationwide

With the release of the DFL's budget earlier this month, the war of words (and policies) in the budget battle between the DFL leadership and Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty has seemingly intensified. During her media availability last Friday, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher described her recent meeting with the...

December 2013? July 2016? Estimating When Unemployment Will Return to Pre-Recession Levels in Minnesota

Governor Tim Pawlenty and State Economist Tom Stinson have frequently declared that Minnesota is in its worst recession since World War II. If that is the case, how long will it take to return to the halcyon days of a thriving Minnesota economy, with unemployment returning to its pre-recession levels...

Erik Paulsen's (Semi) Close Shave Could Get Closer in 2010

Congressional Quarterly recently identified Congressional districts that split their ticket in the 2008 U.S. House and presidential contests. Almost one-fifth of the current Republicans in Congress were elected without the help of John McCain. In total, 34 of the 178 GOPers elected in 2008 (19.1 percent) carried districts that McCain...

Obama Sustains Early Support in Minnesota; Falters in Wisconsin and Iowa

SurveyUSA’s latest round of approval ratings for President Barack Obama have been released for a dozen states across the country, in polling conducted March 20-22 of 600 adults in each state. Although the President has had a consistently higher job performance rating during the first three months of his tenure...

Practicing What He Preaches: Obama's (Safe) Post-Partisan NCAA Picks

President Barack Obama has been bluntly criticized by some pundits and politicians for taking time out of his White House schedule to fill out his NCAA Men's Basketball tournament picks on ESPN last week. While some Americans enjoyed Obama's 'man-of-the-people' demonstration, others, such as Republican Senators Lamar Alexander and Jon...

79 Days: Minnesota Sets State Record for Longest Period With Only One U.S. Senator

At 12:00 am Monday morning, the State of Minnesota set a new record for operating at half-strength in Capitol Hill's upper chamber. At 79 days and counting, Minnesota's current stint with only one U.S. Senator has now eclipsed the previous mark set in the summer of 1923, when it...

Michele Bachmann on D.C.: "I'm a Foreign Correspondent On Enemy Lines"

During a Saturday afternoon interview on WWTC 1280 AM with The Northern Alliance's John Hinderaker and Brian Ward, Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann discussed her staunch opposition to several Democratic-led efforts on Capitol Hill this session - such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the recently passed HR 1586...

Beyond the War of Words At the Capitol: What's Next?

During the House DFL leadership's press conference last Thursday in which they unveiled the broad strokes of their balanced budget plan, Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Majority Leader Tony Sertich used biting language to characterize the budget plan of their political opponent, Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty. In defending their own...

Upper Midwest House Members Vote 18-5 in Favor of TARP Bailout Bonus Tax

On Thursday, Upper Midwestern U.S. House Democrats unanimously supported a bill that would impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) recipients. The measured passed 328 to 93 in the lower chamber. The bill (HR 1586) taxes at 90 percent bonuses given to employees...

Jobless Claims Rate of Increase Slowed Across Upper Midwest in February

Preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment data for the month of February 2009 was released on Wednesday and Thursday for three Upper Midwestern states, with each showing a reduction in the rate of growth of jobless claims. While unemployment rates continued to rise in all three states since January, each state was...

Beneath the Budget Battle, Redistricting Efforts Bubble Up

A Who's Who of Minnesota politics from across the political spectrum continue to speak as one voice in an effort to bring change to the process by which the State draws its congressional and legislative districts. Back in January 2008, former Vice President and DFL Senator Walter Mondale, former Republican...

Why MinnPost's Plea for Forgiveness of Minnesota's Famous Fugitive Is Unfounded

In his recent column, “What happened to the concept of forgiveness in the Sara Jane Olson case?,” MinnPosts’ Doug Grow, in just a shade over 1,000 words, not only advocates for the return of convicted felon Sara Jane Olson (née Kathleen Soliah) back to Minnesota to serve out her parole,...

Live Blog: Security and Immigration in a Post 9/11 United States

12:05 p.m. Edward Alden, Senior Fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations, is delivering a talk today at the Humphrey Institute entitled, "Security and Immigration in a post-9/11 United States. Alden is the author of the recent book, The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration and Security Since 9/11....

Heading (North) West, Young Man? Not So Fast, Minnesota

What with Minnesota's unemployment rate and per capita 2010 budget deficit the largest in the entire Upper Midwestern region, one wonders if Gopher State residents will soon look to the purportedly thriving Dakotas to find economic shelter during these trying times. North Dakota's booming oil business received a lot of...

U.S. Military Fatalities in Afghanistan on Record Pace in 2009

Although Barack Obama only devoted 2 of the 280 sentences in his late February Address before a Joint Session of Congress on the War in Afghanistan, the U.S. attempt to bring greater stability to a historically unstable region of the world is starting to once again take center stage in...

On Why Analyzing the Leaked Coleman Data Is Ethical: A Reply to My Critics

Ethical questions have been raised in recent days surrounding the reporting by news organizations and bloggers on the leaked Norm Coleman U.S. Senate campaign pledges and contributions. Smart Politics has also received its fair share of both criticism and praise for its analysis of the compromised data, perhaps, one might...

An Occupational Profile of Norm Coleman's Campaign Donor List

The many bits of information made available from the leak of the Norm Coleman U.S. Senate campaign donor database, posted at Wikileaks on Wednesday, gives the public a glimpse into what type of people supported the Republican incumbent's candidacy. On Thursday, Smart Politics broke down the donor data by state;...

Coleman's Compromised Donors: Where They Came From

The news for Norm Coleman just keeps getting worse. Fresh off his recent attempt to sell to the public (and the three-judge panel hearing his recount challenge) that the State of Minnesota should hold a new election, the private information of nearly 5,000 donors to his political campaign was...

Minnesota Legislature Ranks Near Bottom in Proportional Representation of African-Americans

Although Minnesota has the 4th highest percentage of women serving in state legislatures nationwide, the Gopher State only ranks 40th in the country in terms of proportional representation of African-Americans in St. Paul. Out of the 201 legislators in the State House and Senate, only 2 members are black -...

Radio Host Mike Gallagher Blames Failure to Sell His House on Obama and Congressional Democrats

Nationally syndicated conservative radio talk show host Mike Gallagher lamented this morning that his failure to sell his own house, that he recently placed on the market, was due to the psychological effects burdening the wealthy resulting from the class warfare propagated by President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats. Gallagher...

What Euphemism For 'Tax Increase' Do You Prefer?

"The word-mincing going on around here gets creative." That was what Republican House Minority Leader Marty Seifert said at a media availability session last Friday in reference to 'Democratic-speak' and how he believes the DFL will seek to raise taxes, without saying they are about to raise taxes. Seifert...

Obama's New Stem Cell Policy Likely to Have Strong Support in Minnesota

President Barack Obama's decision on Monday to permit federal funds for a greater spectrum of embryonic stem cell research is likely to be met with overwhelming support in the Gopher State, as well as the Upper Midwest generally. Obama's directive overturns his predecessor's policy that limited the use of federal...

South Dakota Suffers Record Unemployment Jump in January

Although South Dakota has not yet been hit by the scale of job losses experienced across the nation or the Upper Midwest, the new January numbers released on Friday by the state’s Department of Labor indicate South Dakota, like its neighbor to the east, is experiencing its worst unemployment trend...

Smart Politics Now on Twitter

A quick blog update: as of today you can now also follow Smart Politics on Twitter....

Minnesota Ranks 4th in the Nation in Electing Women to State Legislatures

Unlike its Upper Midwestern neighbors, Minnesota continues to be among the nation's leading states in electing women to state legislative office, according an analysis by Smart Politics of data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. For the second straight election cycle, 34.8 percent of Representatives and Senators in...

Pawlenty Approval Rating Sinks to Lowest Level Since October 2006

Perhaps it is due to the Governor presiding over record spikes in unemployment statewide. Perhaps it is the Governor's stated opposition to the federal stimulus legislation that landed Minnesota billions of dollars. Or perhaps the Governor is losing his public relations battle with the DFL leadership in St. Paul over...

Why (the DFL Thinks) Pawlenty Does Not Want A Structurally Balanced Budget

One of the frequent refrains heard throughout the DFL leadership this session has been a criticism of Governor Tim Pawlenty's budget as failing to be structurally balanced beyond the 2010-2011 fiscal years, and a disapproval of the Governor's use of one-term solutions, such as tobacco bonds, to facilitate the State's...

Minnesotans' Approval of Obama Holds Steady As Support Wanes Nationwide

Barack Obama began the first week of his presidency with nearly 70 percent of the American public approving of his early job performance. One month later, while Obama’s approval rating has dipped by double-digit margins in many states, Minnesotans are sticking behind the man they elected president on November 4th....

Democratic-Controlled Legislatures Overseeing 17 of the 20 Highest State Budget Deficits Nationwide

How are states going to balance the budget deficits that are mounting across the nation? For that answer, you'll have to ask the Democrats - as they control both the Senate and House in 17 of the top 20 states with the largest FY 2010 per capita deficits. The National...

Live Blog: House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher

8:05 a.m. Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher is giving a talk at the Humphrey Institute this morning entitled, "Leading for Minnesota's Future." 8:08 a.m. Speaker Kelliher compares the time of her childhood in the 1970s and early 1980s to the current budget and financial crisis today. Her family had...

Will the DFL Get a Second Chance at a Veto-Proof Majority in 2010?

The DFL's failure to secure a veto-proof majority in the State House in the 2008 elections means, among other things, that they are required to take more heed of Governor Tim Pawlenty's proposals in this session's battle over how to balance the budget (and how structurally balanced it should be...

House Speaker Warns New Budget Forecast Will Make Minnesotans' Stomach Sick

Although the new budget forecast for the state of Minnesota will not be released until Tuesday, state lawmakers are already confirming the doom and gloom that many Gopher State residents fear they will soon be facing. At the end of January, during the unveiling of his budget proposal, Governor Tim...