A new way to make news: Don’t run for governor

It isn’t every day that news types spend a lot of ink on somebody deciding not to do something, but St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has decided not to run for governor, and the sheer novelty of a politician reining in their political ambitions is unusual enough to deserve ink. Coleman explains himself in a story by Dave Orrick of the Pioneer Press: “As I explored a potential candidacy, I returned to two questions over and over: Is my work in St. Paul finished? And can I honestly ask the voters of St. Paul to re-elect me to another term, when the demands of running for (higher) office would keep me from fulfilling the duties of mayor? The answer to both those questions is no.” (His announcement can be heard on MPR here.)

What duties? Minnesota Public Radio’s Madeleine Baran and Tim Pugmire explain that the Central Corridor light rail line is high on the list and is not yet fully funded, according to Coleman.

The GOP response was swift and sharp, quoted by Jason Hoppin on the Pioneer Press City Hall Scoop blog: “Coleman’s failed leadership and record of endless tax increases deserves a full airing before voters go to the polls in November.” Michael Brodkorb, deputy chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota, speculated on a more quotidian reason for Coleman’s announcement, quoted by the Pioneer Press’s Dave Orrick: “Any decisions he made are borne out of problems with campaign financing.” Brodkorb doesn’t seem to have offered any evidence of his assertion, which Coleman denied. But we have no reason to doubt Brobkorb; after all, its not like he spent years as a blogger relentlessly attacking Minnesota Democrats.

Oh well; it’s not as though Minnesota is gong to lack Democratic candidates for governor — if R.T. Rybak runs, and it looks likely he will, there will be about 11 Dems with hats tossed in the ring; many of them will be debating in Duluth today, according to the Associated Press. Matt Entenza should be among them, and has apparently been making some noise about just how deep his pockets are: MPR’s Tom Scheck quotes other DFL candidates as saying that Entenza, whose wife is very wealthy indeed, is willing to spend whatever it takes in this election. The story quotes Rybak’s response: “He came early. He told me he was running. Sometimes that’s a courtesy, sometimes that’s trying to keep people from running. Both of which are perfectly legitimate things, but the amount of money people have isn’t going to turn me away.” For his part, Entenza says he was just speculating on a hypothesis, to quote the chief of police in “Miller’s Crossing”; Entenza was guesstimating how much it might cost to beat Pawlenty, if he were to run. Otherwise, “We don’t have any budget on the campaign.”

KARE11’s Kara Hult offers up what seems like a fairly typical tale of racial insensitivity: Every so often, white high school and college students get it into their little heads that it might be hilarious to dress up as black people, and the attendant stereotyping ends up offending people. In this instance, the school was Red Wing High School, and about 70 students decided to dress in “hip-hop attire.” Hult mentions that this “prank” also had a racially insensitive name, and quotes several students who were made unhappy by the prank, as well as school officials, who waffle on whatever action they plan to take, except that, if students do it again, they’ll be suspended.

So far, so typical. But, man, Hult didn’t tell the half of it, and you have to look to a story by the Republican Eagle’s Mike Longaecker to know this. For one thing, Hult demurs in giving the name of the prank, which was “Wigger Day” or “Wangster Day.” The article semi-helpfully translates these phrases: Winger Nigger Day and Winger Gangster Day; Wingers, are, of course, people from Red Wing. It should be pointed out that Wigger is a phrase used far and wide to describe the phenomenon of white fans of hip-hop; it should also be noted that the racial epithet is always embedded in the name.

But perhaps the word Wigger might be used accidentally by students who aren’t worldly or nuanced. It’s unlikely, however, that these students were oblivious to the pain that this “prank” might cause. Why? Well, the other detail that Hult seems to have left out of her story is that this has happened before. According to Longaecker, this collective minstel act has been going on for at least a couple of years and has gotten the same response each time. Longaecker quotes the school’s principal, who said that “Students taking part in the act last week knew it was inappropriate” and that “many students had changes of clothes in their vehicles and lockers” in order to get around the school’s dress code.

Matt McKinney of the Star Tribune is the bearer of bad news from the Minnesota dairy industry: This has been a terrible year. Specifically, about 200 dairy farms have closed in the past year, thanks to a crash in milk prices. “It’s kind of hard to just turn the cows off,” says a representative from the Minnesota Milk Producers Association.

It’s also a bad time for Upper Midwest farmers who grow red spring wheat, according to Blake Nicholson of the Associated Press. While they actually had their biggest harvest on record, the cool weather has reduced the amount of protein in the crop, forcing farmers to sell at a lower price, and also making it hard to sell the wheat to overseas markets.

Keith Olbermann’s well-honed scorn was directed at Michele Bachmann again, for whom he seems to have what the bloggers at Jezebel call a “hate crush“; this time he is incensed by her claims that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi would respond to Blue Dog democrats with physical violence (the video can be watched on MinnPost here). “Don’t let that out-to-lunch look behind the eyes fool you,” Olbermann says. “There is some sort of slasher movie obsession going on inside that congresswoman.”

In sports, well, according to Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune, the Yankees “are threatening to trample the Twins.” And we can probably be glad that the Green Bay Packers game is history because one of their fans got a little stabby Monday.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Kassie Church on 10/09/2009 - 10:49 am.

    I think the word “Wigger” is quite a bit more loaded than “a phrase used far and wide to describe the phenomenon of white fans of hip-hop.” In my experience it used much more negatively to descripe a white person who “acts black” or more specifically, acts like a n-word. As you pointed out, it has the racial epithet in it which means that a) the person using the word is racist and b) they have the same racist feeling toward the white person who they see as a race traitor.

    Now I probably am getting way too deep into this, but think this word, in some ways, is worse than the N-word because it implies that black people are the N-word and lumps even more people into that category. I won’t say it is actually worse because of the history behind the N-word, but it is pretty disguesting and those kids should be suspended, if not expelled. I’d suggest that using the word and acting as they did is threatening.

  2. Submitted by George Hayduke on 10/09/2009 - 12:37 pm.

    Speaking of campaign violations, Mr. Brodkorb:



  3. Submitted by George Hayduke on 10/09/2009 - 12:47 pm.

    Michael Brodkorb’s rap sheet at the Campaign Finance Board is even longer:


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