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D.C. Memo: Strong dark horse

Minnesota’s mayors say they need federal money soon; Sen. Amy Klobuchar endorses a few candidates and Rep. Ilhan Omar has a new book.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar
REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl
Vanity Fair called Sen. Amy Klobuchar a "strong dark horse" candidate for Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick.
Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week from Washington, Minnesota’s mayors say they need federal money soon; Sen. Amy Klobuchar endorses a few candidates and Rep. Ilhan Omar has a new book.  Let’s get on with this.

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Where’s the money?

Minnesota’s cities, which never received any federal COVID-19 funding, are predicting disaster. And while Democrats have put forward their version of a plan to provide relief, Republicans in Congress have not come to the table. Read more at MinnPost.

I talked to the mayors of Minnesota’s four biggest cities this week for the story, so here’s a short version of how bad it’s looking:

  • “We are being financially decimated,” said Emily Larson, the Mayor of Duluth.
  • “We’re applying for everything we can, but when the money is coming directly to your state, we need to be able to get our hands on it,” said Rochester Mayor Kim Norton.
  • “The projections of revenue shortfalls have increasingly gone up. Right now we’re looking at $165 million in revenue shortfalls,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. “And I would not be surprised if that figure went up to $200 million in coming months.”
  • “From our police departments, our fire departments, our ambulance services … Our ability to do all of those basic things, let alone provide a 21st century  first-class library and parks system,” said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “Our ability to do those just basic things are all in jeopardy right now.”

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This Is What America Looks Like

Rep. Ilhan Omar has a new book coming out next week: “This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman.” Pat Condon at the Strib has a preview:

Given the progressive convictions that Omar frequently describes in her book, toward the end she reveals a surprising political inspiration. She describes Margaret Thatcher, the former Conservative Party prime minister of the United Kingdom, as “my greatest hero.”

Despite vast political differences, Omar writes that she loves Thatcher’s “Iron Lady” style, revealing that her father once gave her the same nickname: “Without any kind of special invitation or connections, time and time again she showed up in rooms filled with men and didn’t have to do much to lead them to decide that she should be in charge.”


Sen. Klobuchar is officially being vetted to be Joe Biden’s running mate, reports CBS News. 

Meanwhile, Vanity Fair declares Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a “strong dark horse” candidate for Vice President. One source in their story declares “she would help him in the Midwest and in swing states.”

There’s a bit to unpack on both of those claims. At least two people already have:

On the first claim: “How can one be a strong dark horse?,” the New York Times’ Astead Wesley tweeted. “If you’re that strong you’re not dark and if you’re that dark you’re not strong.”

On the second claim: “Wait I thought Democrats nominated Biden because he can win these voters,” Intercept Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim tweeted.

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Win big

In related news, Klobuchar’s passed along a second round of endorsements today as a part of Win Big, her slate of competitive election candidates, for both competitive Senate and House races. Klobuchar is endorsing:

  • Senate 
    • Sen. Gary Peters, Michigan
    • Gov. Steve Bullock, Montana
    • Theresa Greenfield, Iowa
    • Gov. John Hickenlooper, Colorado
  • House
    • Rep. Joe Cunningham, SC-1
    • Rep. Abigail Spanberger, VA-7
    • Rep. Susan Wild, PA-7
    • Michelle De La Isla, KS-2
    • Rita Hart, IA-2
    • Sri Preston Kulkarni, TX-22

In her first list of endorsements, Klobuchar endorsed Dan Feehan in Minnesota’s First District and Sen. Tina Smith, in addition to several other candidates around the country.

By the numbers

  • 500: The number of people invited to taxpayer funded dinners hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. An NBC investigation gives the context: “State Department officials involved in the dinners said they had raised concerns internally that the events were essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor and supporter base for Pompeo’s political ambitions.”
  • $1,000,000: Georgia Sen. Kelly Loefler’s husband sent a $1 million dollar check to the leading Trump Super PAC, the largest single Super PAC contribution to date.
  • 38,600,000+: The number of unemployment applications filed nationally since the COVID-related shutdowns. In Minnesota, the April unemployment rate is 8.1 percent.

Minnesota’s senators say domestic violence survivors’ addresses shouldn’t be exposed

Smith and Klobuchar are asking the federal government to use some government funding to protect survivors of stalking, domestic violence, and trafficking. Current federal guidance does not permit money allocated for election assistance, including nearly $400 million allocated in the CARES Act, to be used to create address confidentiality programs for voters (also referred to as Safe at Home programs). The two senators want that changed.

AJ Vicens, from Mother Jones, has more here:

While nearly 40 states offer some type of privacy for the physical address of vulnerable registered voters, standards and implementation “vary widely,” according to a letter written by Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith and sent to the Election Assistance Commission on Monday.

“Many states include the physical address of registered voters in publicly available records,” the senators wrote, noting that victims of domestic violence and stalking have an obvious need to keep their addresses private. “Given that reported instances of domestic violence have risen sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that survivors of domestic violence be able to shield their physical address from any voter registration forms and public databases.”

In other news

Quote of the week

“I tested very positively in another sense. I tested positively toward negative. I tested perfectly this morning, meaning I tested negative,” President Donald Trump said this morning at a press briefing, before departing for Michigan.  

What I’m reading

Sara Harrison for the Markup: How Accurate Is Your Commercial Fitness Tracker?

A detailed story on how fitness trackers are essentially built for a very specific age (20s to 30s) and a very specific skin tone (light). The Markup has been putting out some great stories since its inception not that long ago. Nonprofit journalism? Exploration of how companies are failing us? What’s not to love?

Gregg Aamot for MinnPost: Authentic coverage: Nine months in, Sahan Journal reports with nuance on Minnesota’s immigrants and refugees

What has Sahan Journal, the new outlet dedicated to covering Minnesota’s immigrant and refugee community, been up to? If you’re not already reading their work, this Gregg Aamot piece gives you a few more reasons to.

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