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May 31, 2006
And they're off

By the time you read this Gov. Tim Pawlenty has probably already announced he's running for re-election. No big surprise. Everybody knew he was running, but it still marks the real beginning of the campaign season. And it's just in time, given that the GOP state convention starts tomorrow.

In the Pioneer Press Bill Salisbury has a piece suggesting Pawlenty may be the most polarizing governor in the country. It also features the governor admitting he made some mistakes in the last four years:

He said he alienated some groups with his tough budget decisions, and he angered DFLers with his "center-right" philosophy that's a threat to the "old Mondale-Humphrey-McCarthy-Wellstone view of the world that is deeply imbedded in the political psyche here."

But his biggest mistake, he said, was rolling over the Senate DFL majority during the 2003 legislative session, when with the help of the Republican-controlled House, he got almost everything he wanted and gave the senators nearly nothing in return.

For the next two years, he said, DFL senators were so angry that they blocked him from getting most of the things he wanted, even when that meant not getting anything done at all.

And the governor repeats that he will not sign any more pledges like the "no new taxes" one he agreed to the first time around. DFLers contend he broke the pledge, and they say lots of people's taxes and fees went up over the past four years.

All this should make for a very interesting campaign, and maybe for a very dull GOP state convention. But I'll have more on that tomorrow.

On the DFL side Sen. Becky Lourey will announce her running mate. Unconfirmed reports say it's Tim Baylor, a real estate developer who used to play for the Vikings.

In other news attorney Greg Wersal has escalated his anger about a judicial retreat into a formal complaint. MPR's Tom Scheck had that:

Wersal says the Minnesota Judicial Council, and Supreme Court justices Russell Anderson and G. Barry Anderson attended a retreat in February that provided advice on how to win elections. Wersal says he's concerned that they used taxpayer money to discuss how to run a campaign, something other political candidates have to do with their own money.

"This is all about helping the incumbents win elections," he said. "That's what this is about."

Judges in Minnesota are appointed but have to run for re-election. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled recently that judges in Minnesota can seek party endorsement, raise money and speak at partisan events.

An official with the Minnesota Supreme Court says the retreat did not focus on how judges can keep their jobs but on maintaining a fair and impartial judiciary in light of the recent ruling.

The state campain finance and public disclosure board got the complaint.

And it looks like Minneapolis residents may get a chance to bring instant-runoff voting to the mill city. The Star Tribune explains just how simple it is:

With instant-runoff voting there would be no primaries, which traditionally have low voter turnout. Instead, there would be one election day and one ballot. Voters would rank three candidates in order of preference.

If no candidate receives a majority, the candidate with the least number of first-place votes is eliminated. But those ballots are then counted for their second choices, which are added to the vote totals. A candidate wins when he or she receives at least 50 percent of the vote.

Got it?

Posted by Mike Mulcahy at 6:56 AM