It's been 15 years since an American president was elected with more than 50 percent of the popular vote. Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, and an ensemble cast of lesser-known candidates have managed to deny majorities to both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Minnesota has provided arguably the most fertile ground for third-party candidates in recent years. Jesse Ventura of the Independence Party held the governor's office for four years, and the Green Party has won some local races in that state. But despite that slim fingerhold, third-party and independent candidates struggle for their infrequent victories.
Sen. Paul Wellstone's supporters, admirers, and those who came to rely on his voice in the Senate say they're still grappling with the loss, and fighting to advance his agenda. But Wellstone was also a polarizing figure during his political career. He never won election to the Senate with more than 50-percent of the vote. And many of his critics said he was better at giving speeches than at passing bills.
State workers are expressing a mixture of relief and regret at a tentative two-year contract offer reached over the weekend. The agreement averts a strike, which seems welcomed by all sides. And although state officials say the deal provides fair and balanced compensation, state workers say they would like to have seen more.
State workers will have an opportunity this week to examine details of tentative two-year contract offers hammered out over the weekend between union officials and state negotiators. Union officials say they'll recommend that their members accept the offers, despite concerns that the proposals will increase the out-of-pocket health care costs of employees. Pawlenty administration officials, however, say the plans are fair and balanced -- and they say the agreements avoid the possibility of a state workers strike.
More than two dozen religious organizations have asked a Ramsey County judge to overturn the state's new handgun-permitting law. The law requires local law enforcement officials to grant permits to carry weapons in public to anyone who meets certain qualifying criteria. The religious groups argue the law is unconstitutional and was passed by the Legislature inappropriately. Supporters of the new permitting process say the legal challenge is without merit.
State Republican officials have acknowledged that party chair Ron Eibensteiner has been indicted on charges he violated campaign finance rules. The Mower County attorney has been investigating campaign donations made by a Florida-based insurance company during last year's gubernatorial contest. Eibensteiner has denied any wrongdoing.
Minnesota state government may soon join a growing line of seniors and others crossing into Canada for cheaper prescription drugs. Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he'll examine ways to reduce state health care expenses by taking advantage lower-priced medications available in other countries. The move puts him at odds with the Bush administration, which has steadfastly oppposed the importation of drugs, arguing it could expose consumer to unsafe products.
The debate over state employee wages and benefits has moved from the bargaining table to the airwaves. State workers are in the midst of voting on contract offers tendered by Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration. Union leaders have urged members to reject the offers, arguing that they shift too many health care costs onto employees. A union-sponsored radio ad has been drawing the public's attention to the dispute. And now, a new spot has hit the air; this one questioning the patriotism of state workers.
A potential multimillion-dollar pledge from a South Dakota banker has energized University of Minnesota boosters eager to bring Big Ten football back to campus. The contribution from T. Denny Sanford, 67,
would be the largest single gift in the university's 152-year
history. The news has revived talk of a Gophers-only stadium after a plan to build a joint facility for the university and the Minnesota Vikings unravelled last year.
The two largest state employees unions are recommending that their members reject a new contract proposal that state officials say is their best offer. Talks broke off early Thursday morning when the state and union negotiators failed to find agreement on how to structure health benefits. Union leaders say the plan will drive up out-of-pocket health care expenses. State officials say the increases will be modest given rising costs and the state's budget pinch.
A behind-the-scenes feud between Gov. Tim Pawlenty and DFL Attorney General Mike Hatch spilled into the open on Wednesday when House Republicans called for an investigation of Hatch. In response Hatch released letters detailing sharp disagreements between his office and the Pawlenty administration over how to appoint an independent counsel to investigate possible campaign finance abuses. The spat is the latest round in an ongoing series of recriminations between DFL and GOP officials at the state Capitol.
Two of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's most important assets are his winning smile and his easy disposition. Even his biggest critics say it's hard not to like him. But political opponents are quick to charge that behind the friendly demeanor lurks a radical agenda that is steering Minnesota off course. Pawlenty and his allies, however, point to crushing victories at the ballot box last year as evidence that their roadmap is exactly what Minnesotans want.
There is change afoot in Minnesota. Long considered a safe state for Democrats, the state seemed to embrace a new politics last November when Republicans swept all but one of the statewide races, picked up a seat in Congress, and padded their majority in the state House. Just one legislative session later, the new GOP ascendancy is beginning to bear fruit.
The election of November 2002 turned the bulk of government over to the Republican Party in Minnesota. Although most of the campaign focused on economic issues, GOP legislators were able to successfully pass a conservative social agenda, confident that their plans were consistent with what the state's voters were demanding. What is the impact of a liberal state becoming a conservative stronghold?
Three of President George Bush's top economic advisors stopped in Minnesota Wednesday to promote the president's economic recovery package. They made appearances in Rochester, St. Paul, and Richfield. The trio highlighted tax cuts signed into law earlier this year -- and said the cuts will jumpstart a sluggish economy. But DFLers say after two and a half years with Bush in the White House, the country continues to lose jobs.