MPR’s Gary Eichten moderated the final U.S. Senate debate last night and brought up DonorGate right away, getting a hurried “No” from Norm Coleman on whether his family accepted any unreported gifts. The PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger calls the proceedings “raucous,” as Coleman characterized the controversy as “attacking my wife.” Al Franken responded that Coleman is “looking you in the eye and lying” by saying the Democrat had anything to do with it. Dean Barkley played above-the-fray.
If you missed the fireworks, the invaluable Uptake has a video breakdown of each U.S. Senate debate question/answer. For example, you can check and see if my “hurried” evaluation rings true here:
If you want a text replay of the debate blow-by-blow, MPR’s Bob Collins has one here, Minnesota Democrats Exposed’s is here and The Uptake’s is here. As for TV, KSTP’s report is here, KARE’s is here, WCCO’s is here and Fox9’s is here.
The PiPress’ Dave Orrick notes a major Coleman course correction: “He no longer said Franken was behind the suit; [Coleman] accused Franken of ‘crossing a line’ by not condemning a different ad attacking Coleman over the suit.” Will Coleman condemn his own Saturday ad accusing Franken of the “11th-hour attack?” The Democratic ad was by the party’s independent Senatorial Campaign Committee; Coleman has repeatedly invoked his indepedence from similar Republican ads.
Substance beyond the debate’s controversy? MPR’s Mark Zdechlik highlights top priorities: Barkley would close the deficit; Franken would revive the economy; Coleman would get past partisan fighting. Stassen-Berger notes Franken all-but-established a pro-choice litmus judicial litmus test; Coleman, unlike his foes, wants to preserve tax cuts for the wealthy. Franken touted a lifetime ban on politicians lobbying, which Coleman opposes, the Strib’s Patricia Lopez writes. Maybe that was Al’s tactic to peel off Barkley supporters.
The PiPress’ Stassen-Berger previews a two-minute Norm ad that will run tonight here. It airs on the major TV stations at 6:58 p.m. and doesn’t mention DonorGate. Franken responds to Coleman’s Sunday DonorGate attack here.
The state GOP says the Strib is contradicting itself on DonorGate involvement, using MinnPost and Minnesota Independent reports. I disagree here, and Minnesota Independent’s Steve Perry’s trenchant DonorGate analysis is here and here. Strib editor Nancy Barnes again denies involvement in the DSCC attack ad at the end of this story.
KSTP-sponsored Survey USA polls give state Republicans plenty to applaud: McCain down only 3 in Minnesota (Obama is up 49-46 percent); Norm Coleman up 5 (44-39 over Franken, with Barkley getting 16); Michele Bachmann up 1 (46-45 over El Tinklenberg) and Erik Paulsen up 5 (46-41 over Ashwin Madia, with David Dillon getting 10). The balmy GOP results provoke DFL skepticism, especially because of the skinny presidential number.
A Strib poll sounds a warning bell for the habitat/arts constitutional amendment. Only 53 percent support it, down from 59 percent a month ago. Generally speaking, experts say an amendment needs 57 percent support because non-votes are counted as no votes. Overall, 41 percent now oppose the measure; 5 percent are unsure. The Survey USA poll shows 29 percent favor, 32 percent oppose and a staggering 40 percent uncertain. That’s really bad news for supporters.
Yesterday’s controversy: Fox9’s Trish Van Pilsum scores a big “get” — a sit-down with disgraced MnDOT emergency coordinator Sonia Pitt. Pitt was AWOL during the 35W bridge collapse. Pitt says she wasn’t responsible for people dying by being out of town. She said her supervisors signed off (however, an arbitrator upheld the firing). Pitt says MnDOT “sold me out,” she’s been “demonized,” has no prospects and has told her family where she “wants to be buried.”
This would get more attention after Election Day, but the Strib’s James Walsh offers an interesting piece on illegal immigrants who keep coming back to Minnesota to commit serious crimes. There have been 33 such cases this year, involving cocaine, rape, drug possession and drive-by shootings. The feds are responding with longer prison terms — say, 20 years — and note those who return are likelier to commit crimes than the never-deported.
The Strib’s Chen May Yee has a good piece on local hospitals trying to reduce ballooning charity-care bills by funding preventive clinics. Maybe that’s something our entire health-care system should be doing?
Man-bites-dog: So many people want to be election judges that local officials created waiting lists, the PiPress’ Richard Chin reports. Usually, finding judges is a toughie. Final confirmation of just how exciting this election has been.
The Strib’s editorial page comes out for expanded early voting. It’s especially timely given apprehension over long lines tomorrow. The editorial notes 31 of 50 states make it easier to vote before Election Day than Minnesota does.
The PiPress’ Bob Shaw has a fun piece on “subprime candidates” who can’t answer questions, have personal axes to grind, and issue nothing but bromides. Writes Shaw, “The Pioneer Press will have interviewed more than 100 candidates. … many seem to have filed for office because there wasn’t anything good on television that day.” Unfortunately, the conventions of daily newspapering mean Shaw can’t name names, which is a damn shame.
MPR’s Laura Yuen recaps voter-registration controversies involving ACORN as well as a group that formerly employed deposed Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer — which is going after current Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.
Nort spews: The Vikes knocked out Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, and Adrian Peterson put up good numbers in a 28-21 season-even-up win; Sore Losers here and here. A dumb 88-85 road loss to Oklahoma City keeps the Wolves in the league’s lower echelon; Britt Robson breaks down the biting reality here.