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D.C. Memo: The one with jorts

Mayor Jacob Frey
Mayor Jacob Frey on his jean shorts: “I have a couple of different pairs now, and you roll them at a different level for different occasions.”

The D.C. Memo is a weekly recap of Washington political news, journalism, and opinion, delivered with an eye toward what matters for Minnesota. Sign up to get it in your inbox every Thursday.

Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week in Washington, somehow Congress is in recess again. But there’s still news: Collin Peterson re-released his bill to buck the courts and declassify gray wolves in Minnesota from the Endangered Species Act, presidential candidate Tom Steyer comes out against Line 3 and mining near the BWCA, and potentially big political ad spending in Minnesota’s First District. Let’s get on with this.

Picking a side on Line 3

California billionaire, Need to Impeach founder, and environmentalist Tom Steyer told MinnPost that he opposes Enbridge Line 3 and mining in the Minnesota Boundary Waters. Steyer, who declared a late run for the Democratic nomination, will be on the Presidential debate stage later this month. Here’s what he said in a statement:

Tom believes that it is foolish to spend money to build long-term fossil fuel infrastructure — including Enbridge Line 3 — that will add to our greenhouse gasses, raise our energy costs, and make us less competitive economically…

Tom opposes mining in Minnesota Boundary Waters. He wants to protect our public lands from the corporate greed that has endangered fish and wildlife, local economies, and water supplies; and deprived U.S. taxpayers of fair royalty payments. Tom would direct the Bureau of Land Management to step-up enforcement and reclamation efforts to ensure that corporate polluters — not taxpayers — pay the cleanup costs for abandoned mines and pollution of our waterways.

Other candidates in the race have quickly made Minnesota-specific issues part of their national platform, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren weighing in against Line 3 and the Twin Metals mine in August and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg saying he opposes Twin Metals in September.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar hasn’t taken a clear stance for or against Twin Metals. The same is true for Klobuchar on Line 3.

The comeback of the gray wolf

State control of Minnesota’s gray wolf population has been a goal of Seventh District Rep. Collin Peterson for years. In areas where gray wolf populations have recovered, residents complain of attacks on livestock and pets. Peterson says his neighbor had two cattle and a dog killed prior to 2018.

But his effort has hit a roadblock. Peterson wants to delist gray wolves in the Great Lakes region from the Endangered Species Act, putting management in the hands of the states. But the gray wolf hasn’t fully recovered nationally. Should there be a special exemption to the Endangered Species Act or will that set a bad precedent?

Read more at MinnPost.

Trump in town

President Donald Trump was in Minneapolis this week for a rally at Target Center. So was Vice President Mike Pence. Earlier this week, the Trump campaign threatened to sue the city of Minneapolis after they asked the campaign to pay for $530,000 in security costs for the event up front. Trump’s rallies in Rochester and Duluth cost the cities $93,000 and $69,000 respectively. The Strib reports that neither were reimbursed, and the “conversation” on Twitter between Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and President Trump was anything but Minnesota nice.

Trump: Radical Left Dem Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, is doing everything possible to stifle Free Speech despite a record sell-out crowd at the Target Center. Presidents Clinton and Obama paid almost nothing! The Minneapolis Police have been incredible….

Frey: “Someone tell the President of the United States that he can afford to help pay for the extra time our officers will be putting in while he’s in town.”

Frey has since experienced a weird flurry of national attention. The Daily Beast’s Alaina Demopoulos has the story here:

The Minneapolis mayor has had a strange 48 hours. After Trump attacked him on Twitter, he faced a deluge of anti-Semitic messages. Now he’s a sex symbol.

It’s bizarre,” he told The Daily Beast.

Finally, Alliance for a Better Minnesota has a new poll out on Trump’s approval in Minnesota, conducted by Public Policy Polling. Here are some takeaways:

  • His current approval rating: 51% disapprove, 44% approve.
  • If the election were held today: 42% would vote for Trump. 52% would vote for generic Democratic opponent.


Once again: Minnesota’s First District

End Citizens United, a PAC that aims to get big money out of politics, said it intends to target Rep. Jim Hagedorn in Minnesota’s First District. The group says they have a list of 58,600 members in Minnesota and 4 million members as a whole.

The PAC spent $1.5 million in 2018 to help Third District Rep. Dean Phillips defeat Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen in 2018. It is unclear if they intend to spend as heavily on the First in 2020, as that determination will be made in the future, but they said Hagedorn will be one of the 20 “Big Money 20 targets,” incumbents who take money from special interests like drug companies, oil, and Wall Street. End Citizens United says that so far, Hagedorn has accepted $100,000 in corporate PAC money over the course of his political career.

Hagedorn’s 2018 opponent Dan Feehan, who narrowly lost in 2018 by 1300 votes, is running again for the seat.

“Hagedorn takes $21,000 from Big Oil and in return does little when ethanol refineries, like those in Winnebago, MN, close,” End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller said in a statement. “Minnesotans deserve representation that owes no favors to corporate special interests.”

The president next door

Klobuchar’s third quarter campaign finance report isn’t out yet, but she did release her numbers. Klobuchar said she raised $4.8 million in the third quarter, up from the $3.87 million she raised in the second quarter. That’s lower than many of her rivals for the Democratic nomination:

Sen. Bernie Sanders: $25.3 million

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: $24.6 million

Mayor Pete Buttigieg: $19.1 million

Joe Biden: $15.2 million

Kamala Harris: $11.6 million

Andrew Yang: $10 million

Cory Booker: $6 million

Klobuchar: $4.8 million

Michael Bennet: $2.1 million

Tom Steyer: $2 million

Additionally, Klobuchar issued a press release on her Minnesota-based endorsements. Most prominent DFL politicians are on there. But as Patrick Condon at the Strib points out, there are two notable exceptions: Attorney General Keith Ellison, who’s endorsed Sanders, and his successor in the Fifth District, Rep. Ilhan Omar, who hasn’t endorsed. Omar has only explicitly said that she does not plan to support Joe Biden. “There are few people who fit into the kind of progress that we all want to see in this country,” Omar said last month. “And I would say he is not one of them.”

In other news

Quote of the week

“The infamous jean shorts,” Frey told The Daily Beast about his wardrobe, for an explainer I did not think would ever be needed. “I think they’re probably Levi’s, but I’m not sure. I have a couple of different pairs now, and you roll them at a different level for different occasions.”

What I’m reading

Ayesha Rascoe for NPR: Twitter Analysis Shows How Trump Tweets Differently About Nonwhite Lawmakers

Anecdotally, the president constantly attacks lawmakers of color. Here’s an analysis of how often it actually happens (it’s a lot!).

Ken Doctor for NiemanLab: The Gannett–GateHouse merger is really happening, but expect to see more than 10% of jobs cut off the top

25,000 people at Gannett and GateHouse, the country’s number one and number two newspaper publishers, are expected to lose their jobs in the merger. All of this around the same time Splinter, a national news outlet with a progressive focus, announced it will be closing effective immediately. Not a lot of good days for journalism lately. Just another reminder to subscribe to local outlets around the country, including non-profits like MinnPost.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. Until next week, feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: gschneider@minnpost.com. Follow at @gabemschneider. And don’t forget to become a MinnPost member.

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