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June 2009


Norm Coleman Ends 2008 Election Legal Fight

Speaking outside his house in St. Paul on Tuesday afternoon, former Republican Senator Norm Coleman congratulated DFLer Al Franken as the new Senator from the Gopher State. Earlier this afternoon the Minnesota Supreme Court decided Franken was "entitled" to a certificate as the winner of the November election. Coleman also...

Who Defected on the US House Climate Change Legislation?

The U.S. House of Representative's 219-212 vote last week in favor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (HR 2454) passed in part due to the defection of a handful of Republicans, while more than half of the Blue Dog Democratic coalition voted in opposition to the bill. Eight...

Wisconsin Overtakes Minnesota as #1 State in Health Care Quality Rankings

The newly released 2008 state rankings by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) finds the State of Wisconsin has passed Minnesota for overall health care quality in the United States. Minnesota, ranked #2 in 2008, was the top state in...

Why Doesn't Amy Klobuchar Run for Governor?

Despite overwhelming success in federal and state elections during the past few decades, the DFL may have missed its best chances (in 1998, 2006) to win a gubernatorial election in the Gopher State. Excluding gubernatorial contests, the DFL has won 72 percent of statewide elections (21 of 29) since the...

Is New GOP House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers Politically Vulnerable?

The Minnesota House Republican's selection of Kurt Zellers (32B-Maple Grove) as their new Minority Leader may not be unusual in terms of the 4-term legislator's political ideology (conservative) or policy positions (pro tax cuts and fiscal responsibility), but it is unusual within the context of his electoral track record and...

Iowa Endures Largest Monthly Increase in Unemployment in Quarter Century

The new numbers released late last week by Iowa Workforce Development continue to highlight the worst employment trend the Hawkeye State has faced in more than three decades. Iowa's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 5.1 in April to 5.8 percent in May - the biggest net and percentage increase...

Minnesota U.S. Senate Race Still Fodder for Late-Night Comedians

Now seven and a half months out from Election Day, the U.S. Senate contest between DFLer Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman is still providing a few yucks on late-night television. In recent weeks, Bill Maher has been a virtual Norm Coleman joke factory on his Real Time with Bill...

Is the Minnesota US House Delegation Voting More Conservatively?

With the DFL winning a string of 9 consecutive presidential elections, 4 out of 5 U.S. Senate contests (counting Al Franken), and netting 35 state House and 11 state Senate seats since 2002, Minnesota has been frequently characterized as an increasingly "Democratic-leaning" state. The outputs of the DFL's electoral success...

Pawlenty Unallotment Strategy, Decision Not to Run in 2010 Have Little Impact on Approval Ratings

Just as Tim Pawlenty's announcement that he would use an unallotment strategy to resolve the state's budget crisis had little impact on his approval ratings in late May, his decision to not seek a third term as Minnesota's Governor also seems to have had little impact on his approval ratings...

Minnesota, Wisconsin Lead Nation in Largest Proportion of House Committee Leadership Posts

U.S. Representative John Kline's (MN-02) election this week as the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and Labor further established the Gopher State's House delegation as one of the most powerful in the nation. Minnesota now has 3 of its 8 U.S. Representatives holding chairmanships or the...

Obama Approval Rating Dips Below 60 Percent in Minnesota

It took nearly half a year, but President Barack Obama's approval rating finally fell below the 60 percent mark in the Gopher State, according to the latest round of monthly polls conducted by SurveyUSA. Obama had previously notched an approval rating between 61 and 64 percent during the first...

South Dakota Unemployment Rate Reaches 5 Percent for First Time Since 1985

New unemployment numbers released by the South Dakota Department of Labor quickly doused the short-lived optimism about the economic situation in the Upper Midwest, which had seen historic increases in the jobless rates across the Upper Midwest halt and slightly reverse course in April in four states - South Dakota,...

How Will Pawlenty's Unallotment Impact State's Higher Ed Ranking?

When Governor Tim Pawlenty proposed a collective unallotment of $100 million to the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU) system on Tuesday, higher education officials breathed a short sigh of relief. After the end of session a month ago, Pawlenty speculated an additional $190 million...

Why Michele Bachmann's Political Ideology Is the Boldest Among U.S. House Republicans

Continuing to serve as a lightning rod for the political left in the Gopher State, the month of June has seen Representative Michele Bachmann maintain her remarkably high profile among not only the Minnesota Congressional delegation, but also nationally among her GOP colleagues throughout the U.S. House. Earlier this...

U.S. Military Fatalities Continue at Record High Pace in Afghanistan, Record Low Pace in Iraq

As President Barack Obama approaches the 5-month mark of his administration, his political supporters, especially those on the liberal end of the ideological spectrum, are faced with reconciling the President's campaign promises on the military, national security, and the country's conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the policies he has...

Minneapolis Index Crime Rate Falls 18 Percent from April 2008

The Minneapolis Police Department's official Uniform Crime Report data for April 2009 finds crime in Minnesota's largest city down 18 percent from one year ago. The 18 percent 12-month drop is the largest in the city dating back more than two years to February 2007, when crime was down 23.9...

Minnesota, Western States Lead Nation in Male Population; Vote for GOP Governors

In one of the quirkier statistical findings reported by this blog, a new Smart Politics analysis of Census Bureau data finds that all twelve states in the country in which the male population is equal to or greater than that of the female population are located west of the Mississippi...

Fact Check: Is Stephanie Herseth Sandlin a "Radical Liberal?"

Last Thursday the South Dakota Republican Party launched a new website called "Stop Stephanie," designed to attack 4-term At-large Democrat U.S. Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. Herseth Sandlin - a virtual lock for a 5th term should she decide to run again in 2010 - is also a rumored candidate...

How Do We Judge Governor Pawlenty's Political Legacy?

As Tim Pawlenty completes the remaining 18+ months of his second term, before venturing into (politically or financially) greener pastures, he has vowed to "Continue to spend every day doing what's right for them. Minnesota will get my very best until I'm done. There is much important and difficult work...

How High Does the U.S. Rank in World Muslim Population?

During the past week, President Barack Obama has made a determined effort to emphasize both the importance of Islam to American culture and history, as well as suggesting Muslims comprise a substantial percentage of the U.S. population. Obama first got into factually murky waters on Monday when, during an interview...

Does Marty Seifert Represent a 'Swing District?'

GOPer Marty Seifert (21A-Marshall) announced yesterday that he would be stepping down as Minority Leader of the House of Representatives on June 24th, explaining he did not think it was appropriate to represent his caucus while contemplating a new position - that of governor of the Gopher State. While stating...

From T-Paw to J-Ram: Is Jim Ramstad the GOP's Answer in 2010?

Tim Pawlenty's decision Tuesday not to seek an unprecedented third 4-year term as Governor of the Gopher State not only emboldened the candidacies of the long list of DFLers already on the campaign trail, but also raised the issue as to what type of candidate the Republican Party should run...

Are Supreme Court Justices Living Longer?

Yesterday Smart Politics challenged the popular notion that Presidents have been eying younger Supreme Court nominees in recent years, presumably to deepen their impact and legacy on the Supreme Court as the judicial branch has become seen as more partisan. But an analysis of U.S. Senate confirmation data found the...

Are Supreme Court Nominees Getting Younger?

Many commentators and political analysts have speculated that Barack Obama's nomination of U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court was based not only on his agreement with her judicial philosophy, but also her gender, ethnicity (Hispanic), and youth (54 years old). In fact, political observers have...