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Vice president plans another Minnesota visit

Keith Ellison speaks Friday, Aug. 13, 2018, at campaign rally at Denfeld High School in Duluth. Ellison is running for Minnesota attorney general. Clint Austin / Forum News Service

ST. PAUL — The White House is leaving no doubt that Minnesota is important in its 2018 political strategy.

The Minnesota Republican Party announced Monday, Aug. 20, that Vice President Mike Pence will be in Bloomington on Aug. 30, with a fundraiser the only thing on his agenda so far. When Pence and President Donald Trump have been here this year, they also have fit in rallies and other events to help GOP candidates.

"Minnesota is a prominent battleground state, with an election year unlike any we have seen since perhaps the late 1970s," state GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said. "We look forward to supporting our current administration and carrying them through to the 2020 election."

While Carnahan and most other Minnesota Republican leaders support Trump, a few have avoided it. Others, like governor candidate Jeff Johnson, say they like Trump's policies but do not always agree with his style.

Pence has been on the road a lot this year, campaigning for Republicans who can back the Trump agenda. He and Trump have visited Duluth to back U.S. House candidate Pete Stauber.

Several U.S. House races and one U.S. Senate contest in the state are expected to be close. Trump fell just short of beating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Minnesota election, which has given Republicans hope to do well in this year's non-presidential election.

DFL endorses Ellison

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison was back to campaigning Monday after receiving the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Central Committee's endorsement for attorney general over the weekend.

A spokesman said Ellison was in small meetings and one-on-one sessions on Monday. He plans to be at the State Fair, which begins Thursday, with an area inside the party booth.

The weekend vote, which gave Ellison support of 82 percent of committee members, was not a given after a former girlfriend accused Ellison of abusing her. Democratic Party leaders say they are investigating allegations that Ellison pulled the woman off his bed. He strongly denies that ever happened while the woman says she will not release video of the incident.

The state party had to consider Ellison's endorsement after he won about half of the vote in a crowded primary election race last week. The candidate June's state DFL convention endorsed, Matt Pelikan, finished fourth after Ellison and other Democrats jumped into the race days after the convention ended.

Republican attorney general candidate Doug Wardlow said Democrats did not do as they preach in endorsing Ellison.

"The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party voted to endorse extremist Keith Ellison despite the recent allegations that Ellison committed domestic abuse," Wardlow said. "Minnesota Democrats have preached that we must believe domestic violence victims. That is, until it is one of their own."

Ellison reacted to the endorsement by playing up his desire to be the "people's lawyer."

"As your Minnesota attorney general, I will fight every day to put Minnesota families ahead of powerful special interests, increase access to affordable health care and level the playing field to make our economy more fair, and expand opportunity for all," Ellison said.

The Central Committee also endorsed U.S.Rep. Tim Walz, who won the Democratic primary for governor.

Independent candidate on air

An independent U.S. Senate candidate who stayed quiet while Democrats and Republicans fought it out leading up to last week's primary election is going on the air.

Jerry Trooien announced Monday that he is buying radio time across Minnesota.

"Politics in Washington is a mess," he says in the commercial. "Party interests are served, but your interests are not."

Trooien is a St. Paul native and a businessman. A two-sport athlete, Trooien received National Football League contracts with the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins in addition to the Chicago Cougars of the World Hockey Association.

Nolan: Shorten campaigns

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, fresh off losing a bid to be Minnesota lieutenant governor, likes the idea of limiting congressional campaigns to 60 days.

He also would prohibit members of Congress and challengers from "from personally asking for money on days when Congress is in session."

In an email to constituents in his northeastern Minnesota district, Nolan said that campaigning for a year "is terribly wrong. The simple fact is that non-stop, 365-day a year congressional campaigns tune out voters, tire out candidates and turn members of Congress into mid-level telemarketers who spend far more time dialing for dollars than governing."

As a lame duck — Nolan already planned to retire even before he joined Swanson's governor ticket — he will have little time to get the provision and other parts of the Restore Democracy Revolution ideas passed. His term ends as 2019 begins.

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.
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