KSTP probably got a little ratings bump last night with a poll showing Michele Bachmann trailing El Tinklenberg 47-44 percent. Margin of sampling error plus or minus 4. MPR’s Tom Scheck says his station will release a 6th District poll today. The lefty website Daily Kos reprints a national Republican “Death List” (PDF) that rates Bachmann’s race a “true toss-up.” (The 3rd District Madia-Paulsen race also earns that classification.) The Republicans pulled their national money out of Bachmann’s district yesterday.
More poll: Minnesota Independent’s Chris Steller looks at the crosstabs and finds Tinklenberg leading among women (53-41) and independents (51-35). Surprisingly in the GOP-heavy district, Bachmann gets only 79 percent of Republicans while Tinklenberg takes 87 percent of Dems. If Bachmann can shore up support in her own party, she wins. But there might be more moderate Repubs in the ‘burbs than urban Dems assume. The Strib’s Pat Doyle notes the NRA-endorsed Bachmann gets just half of gun owners’ votes.
By the way, Tinklenberg hits Bachmann directly on “anti-America” in his second TV ad.
Strib outdoors columnist Dennis Anderson frets that habitat/arts amendment “Vote No” signs might hurt Norm Coleman and Michele Bachmann among hook-and-bullet enthusiasts. The state Republican Party is distributing the “No” signs along with Coleman and Bachmann signs; the two incumbents support the amendment. “Sportsmen who are moderates or independents … might look at those signs and say, incorrectly, ‘If Coleman’s against the amendment, then I’m voting for Franken,'” says ex-legislator Bob Lessard.
Related: WCCO’s Jason DeRusha offers a good explainer on why a habitat amendment might be needed even though the state lottery already funds environmental causes. The lottery’s slice isn’t as big as you think, and Minnesota environmental spending is down.
The Strib’s Kevin Diaz looks at ACORN-related voter-registration probems in Minnesota and finds little fraud. That’s according to Hennepin and Ramsey county registrars. Still, a stunning “third or more of the registration applications they turn over to election officials are rejected for technical reasons, such as incomplete names, addresses and phone numbers.” The officials (all DFLers) say ACORN is the victim of canvasser sloppiness; the group must turn over all cards it receives, yet tries to flag bad ones.
The flip side, I suppose, is Diaz’s interview with Jeff Larson, Norm Coleman’s landlord, Sarah Palin’s clothes financier, and robocall arranger. Larson says he’s merely a conduit for the McCain campaign’s scarifying live-operator calls in Minnesota; on campaign lit, likens himself to a “printer” rather than the author. He “disputes” helping arrange scurrilous South Carolina calls about John McCain’s adopted daughter in 2000, but not much explanation is given. One weakness: the story only quotes Republican fans of this “Clark Kent.”
Related: Finance and Commerce’s Betsy Sundquist offers more on the Larson’s robocalls, including the 2000 operation and this year’s work, here.
WCCO’s Pat Kessler staples Norm Coleman for carting Rudy Giuliani around the state when Giuliani is voicing Minnesota robocalls Coleman has decried. Coleman says Giuliani’s recorded messages, which claim Barack Obama opposes mandatory prison sentences for serious crimes, are “fair game.” Obama’s campaign says he opposes mandatory minimum sentences in favor of judicial discretion. By the way, a new Rasmussen poll puts Obama up by 15 points here, 56-41 percent.
You’d think after Katherine Kersten’s Metro-front rip of Al Franken’s alleged anti-Christian bias, the Strib wouldn’t bury daughter Thomasin Franken’s response at the bottom of the print op-ed page. The younger Franken notes her dad hates Catholics so much he married one. The headline, “Dedicated and focused on his family,” blandly masks the Kersten factor. How ’bout “Katherine Kersten is wrong about my dad.”
By the way, Strib news columnists are now forbidden to get political for the rest of the campaign; see my story here. The ban doesn’t affect editorial-page writers and op-ed columnists.
The Rasmussen poll also puts Franken up 41-37, but the poll-junkie website Fivethirtyeight.com hits on a major fear of Al backers: while their guy leads in the polls, Dean Barkley’s 17-19 per cent support will crater, swelling the number of persuadable voters who could take down a front-runner in the campaign’s final days.
Former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger heartily endorses Coleman’s work on health care reform in a PiPress op-ed. Coleman supports a bipartisan bill that will reduce costs 30 percent, Durenberger claims, and will offer tax credits and malpractice suit limits. The plan “restricts” pre-existing condition exclusions. By the way, Coleman, Al Franken and Dean Barkley debate on KTCA’s “Almanac” tonight at 7. It’s the last televised Senate debate.
Will two-thirds of high schoolers fail to graduate now? The state can use new rigorous graduation tests that two-thirds failed last year, an administrative law judge ruled. The PiPress’ Megan Boldt quotes one schools lobbyist saying, “Almost 70 percent of our students, who might already be accepted to college, who are getting As and Bs … might not get a diploma.” Gov. Pawlenty vetoed a bill allowing students who fail the test to appeal and possibly graduate.
KSTP provides the transcripts of Tom Petters’ desperate-to-flee conversations, which the feds taped. The info’s not new, but the dialogue is suitably interesting. There are a bunch of court docs on the site.
This should be fun: Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak plans to let a police mediation deal with community groups expire, the Strib’s David Chanen reports. The U.S. Justice Department, which instituted the deal, could take over the department, but probably won’t. Forty of 100 action items “have yet to be approved or completed.” Rybak says several changes have been made, but the group is dysfunctional. Community members ask if the fox can monitor the henhouse and want a one-year extension.
MPR’s Sea Stachura says Latino residents of Gaylord, Minn., are complaining to the state about police targeting. The weapon: citations for driving without a valid license. Many of the accused say they have licenses, but from other states. (Little known fact: those are still valid even after you establish residency. You need a birth certificate or passport to get a first license here.) An officer explains he “loves doing traffic” and stops everyone, but Latinos are more likely to lack documentation.
Nort spews: The Wild cough up their first loss 4-3 in overtime as Buffalo scored two late goals to force the matter into extras.