There’s nothing unexpected about the fact that Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is making a bid for Tim Pawlenty’s job — he’s been hinting at it, or stating it outright, for a while, and shortly after he was re-elected mayor, he filed to run as governor. But there’s something to be said for making it official, and on Sunday at the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown, that’s just what he did.
“Our goal is nothing short of taking back this state,” he declared, according to the Star Tribune’s Rachel E. Stassen-Berger, and she also reports that the mayor made some “hefty promises.” “Hefty” is an odd word choice, mostly associated with physical brawniness, but perhaps it’s a good one here, as, at times, Rybak did sound like a scrappy bar fighter challenging all comers. Jason Hoppin of the Pioneer Press has him declaring, “I was born in a great state and I’m not going to retire in a mediocre one,” and Stassen-Berger lists some of his promises: “He said he’d bring affordable health care to all, fix the school funding system, create jobs all over the state, and reconnect all Minnesotans, ending partisan and geographic divides.”
Whew! It sounds like a superhuman challenge that Rybak has set out for himself, which may be why, to accompany its reprint of Jessica Mador of Minnesota Public Radio‘s story about Rybak’s announcement, KARE11 selected an image of Rybak in which he seems to be emerging from some sort of green-and-brown banded mist; presumably he has ended geographic divides by erasing space and time. Mador notes that Rybak is “leaning on some of Obama’s organization” in his run, in that he’s making use of many of the same campaigners, such as volunteer organizers that worked for the Obama campaign, although it’s not clear yet whether Obama will be throwing any support behind Rybak.
A Rassmussen Reports poll has Rybak at the top of the Democratic candidates for governor, sharing the top slot with former Sen. Mark Dayton, with each preferred by 30 percent of the respondents. On the Republican side, far and away the favored candidate is former Sen. Norm Coleman, with 50 percent of respondents citing him as their preferred candidate. As City Pages points out, “Their favored candidate has said recently he isn’t running for the job.”
Politics is a fickle world, and the eyes of the world (or at least the various geographical divides of Minnesota) may be upon you on Sunday, only to cast themselves on another politician on Monday, especially when that politician is Sarah Palin. The former vice presidential candidate and current book author hasn’t even arrived at the Mall of America yet, but the media are jingle jangle jingling its spurs like Tex Ritter in anticipation. Tim Nelson of MPR, for instance, has already published a piece on the hundreds of fans who are already lined up to get copies of Palin’s book signed, quoting one burbling fan as saying, “She doesn’t care what party she’s from, she’s for us, she’s for everybody, she doesn’t care.”
Good work, Tim, but this is the sort of thing that Twitter really excels at. According to one tweet, there are about 600 people on hand; according to another, it’s an estimated 2,200. The Star Tribune is trying to encourage people at the events to use a specific hash tag for marking their tweets: #stribpol, but it doesn’t seem to be catching on. This marvelous tweet, for instance, was un-hashtagged: “Late-to-work excuse in advance: I have to drive past MOA where Sarah Palin devotees are lining up to get books signed. I WON’T be stopping.” Nonetheless, the Strib’s hash tag is good for quick glimpses into events, such as the user who is posting photos of the event as she waits in line.
But, barring anything really exciting happening, Palin may already be old news by this afternoon, because today is also the day when Tim Pawlenty’s budget-balancing constitutional amendment gets an airing at the Capitol, as the Associated Press points out. The budget and, in a larger sense, the economy refuse to take a backseat to anybody for very long. For instance, in another AP story, the University of Minnesota’s regents are meeting to discuss the state budget, fearing another drop in state support. The Star Tribune, in the meanwhile, asks what you would do if you ran the state budget, based on a State Fair exhibit in which everyday Minnesotans are given beans, representing dollars, and then are given the chance to allocate them — although, to be accurate, the exhibit probably shouldn’t start out by giving beans to anybody, but instead informing participants that they already owe a lot of beans, this being a deficit and all.
Based on a story by the Star Tribune’s Mary Jane Smetanka, this game of bean allotment is one that cash-strapped city leaders have been playing in earnest, trying to squeeze out extra income with various fees; it sounds a bit like that “Simpsons” episode where a Hollywood film company tries to shoot in Springfield, only to find themselves nickel-and-dimed by newly invented fees for everything they want to do. It sounds a bit like that episode except, you know, in the real world, it’s not very funny.
In similar unfunny news, Jim Spencer of the Star Tribune reports on the swelling ranks of middle-class Minnesotans forced by the recession to go on food stamps. “Before, I thought people on food stamps just didn’t feel like working,” one interview subject says.”Now, it’s exactly the opposite. There are people who want to work. But there are no jobs.”
We could talk about the Vikings’ loss to the Cardinals, but why? There are other sports in the Twin Cities, such as boxing, and Abby Simons turns in a small classic in the art of writing about the sweet science in a report about the bout between longtime friends Joey “Minnesota Ice” Abell and Raphael “The Silencer” Butler, which was reportedly the first Minnesota heavyweight championship bout since 1977. Simons’ tale hinges on an unheard ring from a bell that led to chaos: “Referee Bobby Brunette waved the fighters back together, despite the protests of the screaming crowd and Butler’s trainers, who were pounding the fighter’s chair against the ring in an attempt to get the referee’s attention.” A knockout punch, and great drama, resulted.
But if you must talk about the Vikes, we at the Daily Glean have a suggestion for how to pay for a new stadium: Whenever a Minnesota Viking gets a speeding ticket, apply that to defray the cost of the new building. At the rate they’re going, it should be paid off in no time.