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Capitol Chatter: Bachmann says she will be active

Michele Bachmann delivers an hour-long speech to about 140 Republicans in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Aug. 1, 2011, smoothly going from one federal government issue to another, but always returning to the budget. (Forum News Service file photo by Don Davis)

ST. PAUL -- Michele Bachmann promises to remain involved in government policy, but that promise has been heard from others who soon faded from the scene.

Will the conservative Minnesota congresswoman be different?

First, it should be noted that despite news stories that refer to Bachmann in the past tense, she has a year and a half left in her U.S. House term.

“Feel confident, over the next 18 months, I will continue to work 100-hour weeks, and I will continue to do everything that I can to advance our conservative constitutional principles that have served the bedrock for who we are as a nation,” Bachmann said in a video announcing her decision not to run again. “And I will continue to work vehemently and robustly to fight back against what most in the other party want to do, to transform our country into becoming, which would be a nation that our founders would hardly even recognize today.”

Bachmann spent much of the video talking about herself.

“I've called out the Muslim jihad terrorists for who they are, and for the evil that they perpetrate upon our people,” she said, not sounding at all like she will return to Stillwater and be quiet. “And I've demanded that this administration never, under any circumstances, subordinate our national security for the administration's weak version of political correctness.”

About her future, she added: “I want you to be assured that there is no future option or opportunity, be it directly in the political arena or otherwise, that I won't be giving serious consideration if it can help save and protect our great nation for future generations.”

Of course, other political conservatives have pledged continued activism, including Sarah Palin and Herman Cain.

If Bachmann falls silent, it will leave a hole in news stories as political reporters seek out quotes.

As Politico reported: “She was a bomb thrower, a master performer, a flashy politician with an appetite for combat and perhaps the strongest TV presence of any Republican in Washington.”

A quiet start

Mike McFadden’s announcement that he is running against U.S. Sen. Al Franken was unusual.

In an announcement that rivaled the beginning of Mark Dayton’s 2000 Senate race, McFadden quietly revealed his intentions Wednesday -- quiet because his campaign gave reporters less than an hour’s notice, allowing just one of four Twin Cities commercial television stations time to get a camera to the Capitol pressroom.

So McFadden made his announcement to a sparse crowd of reporters, already busy covering U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s announcement that she is not running again and filing stories about a lawsuit against the state.

The event was in stark contrast to most senatorial announcements, which are filled with lots of pomp and ceremony in front of crowds of supporters.

McFadden said he had planned for days to make his announcement Wednesday, but could not explain why there was such short notice.

McFadden took most of his announcement discussing the need to improve education, a topic more often brought up by state candidates than federal ones. But he had no specific suggestions about what Congress should do on the subject.

“I look forward to giving you specifics,” he told reporters, but added that he needs to investigate first.

The only other Senate announcement so quiet came from Dayton, who already was well-known in 2000. Dayton went into one of the Capitol’s pressrooms during a busy day at the state Legislature and told whoever happened to be there that he would run for Senate.

Looking into drugs

State Rep. Erik Simonson will lead a special committee to investigate drugs.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, made the announcement, saying the committee “will examine the misuse of illegal drugs, prescription drugs and synthetic drugs. In the coming months, this committee will work on this issue and come back next session with recommendations to curb drug abuse and sale across the state."

Democrat Simonson said his community of Duluth is “at the center of the debate around the sale and use of synthetic drugs. ... Synthetic drug abuse and the misuse of controlled substances are very real threats to public safety and the public's health.”

Canada aid OK’d

Minnesota and Canada have agreed to a compact allowing the state and adjoining provinces to help each other in emergencies.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed the document that would make outside assistance easier to obtain.

Examples of what the governments can provide for each other include personnel, equipment, supplies, fire services, emergency medical, search and rescue and mass health care.

“Few, if any, individual communities have all the resources needed in a major disaster,” said Kris Eide, director of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “This compact provides Minnesota an additional ability to quickly deliver and receive resources where needed.”

Other states and provinces in the compact are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Sunday sales an issue

Sen. Roger Reinert continues to dream of the day he can legally buy alcohol on Sundays.

Now, the Duluth Democrat points to a recent survey by Public Policy Polling that shows 60 percent of Minnesotans want the same thing.

“Since I came to the Legislature, I’ve been pushing Minnesota to change our outdated laws and jump into the 21st century,” Reinert said.

Reinert wrote a bill this year to allow Sunday sales. It did not make it through its committee, but remains alive for next legislative session.

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.