Jim Ragsdale, a veteran Pioneer Press state Capitol reporter who most recently worked on the paper’s editorial page, will return to the beat with the Star Tribune.
Ragsdale, 61, replaces Eric Roper, who is moving to the Strib’s Minneapolis bureau. The Strib clearly had someone like “Rags” in mind when they advertised for the position in mid-July: the ad specified at least 10 years reporting experience, an unusually high amount.
DFL eyebrows may rise because Ragsdale leaves an editorial page that, in the run-up to this summer’s state shutdown, loudly supported Republican positions. However, he is just one member of the four-person board that includes publisher Guy Gilmore, editor Mike Burbach and spokeswoman Pat Effenberger.
Ragsdale, who wrote the Friday Opinuendo round-up columns, wields a clever pen; as a PiPress reporter, he managed to get under then-Gov. Jesse Ventura’s thin skin more adroitly than many scribes. As this 2002 City Pages “Best Reporter” citation noted:
For all its resources and institutional ambitions, the Star Tribune has been strangely lackluster in chronicling the Ventura administration — as if its “team leaders” confuse fairness and deference. …
Along with providing a revealing glimpse into Ventura’s past, a good number of amusing anecdotes, and a cogent analysis of his term as governor, [Ragsdale’s] “A.K.A. Jesse Ventura” pinned the Body down on the elusive question of his military service. (Did our SEAL-cap-wearing, tough-talking governor ever actually hunt man, as he once famously suggested? The short answer: no).
Given his deep knowledge of Minnesota politics, Strib readers should hope Ragsdale similarly uncovers facts and spares no quarter about what they really mean.
Ragsdale joins a veteran staff that includes Rachel Stassen-Berger (who was swiped from the PiPress in 2009), Mike Kaszuba and Baird Helgeson. In a sense, his arrival represents a return; he worked for the Minneapolis Tribune in the early ’80s, but was laid off in the merger with the Star.