What’s the upshot of having a bicameral Legislature that is now dominated by conservatives? Well, at least one issue that’s been pushed to the back burner may reach the front burner, if Hart Van Denberg of City Pages has it right. According to Van Denberg, “[T]he Minnesota Family Council says it’s going to push for a 2012 statewide referendum seeking a constitutional ban on gay marriage.” They’ve tried before, and failed, thanks to liberal control of the House and Senate. This is the sort of thing that would be put to a statewide vote, which is a funny place to put a question of human rights. Would it work? Hard to say. Marriage is already unavailable for members of the LGBT community in this state, but recent polls find a majority of Minnesotans actually would agree to extending those rights to gays and lesbians. Ultimately, this is all headed toward the Supreme Court, which is likely to find a ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional, but it’s not like we have issues like economy to worry about. MinnPost’s Eric Black also looks at the subject.
Otherwise — well, lots of little news from the transition, and from the stalled gubernatorial transition. The GOP Senate caucus has chosen its majority leader in the person of Amy Koch, the first woman to fill that role, as MinnPost’s Joe Kimball reports. FOX9 reports that Kurt Zellers has been tagged as the next speaker of the House, making him the first Zellers to do so. Jason Hoppin of the Pioneer Press gives us the DFL minority leaders: “Tom Bakk of Cook will head the Senate caucus, while Paul Thissen of Minneapolis will head the House caucus.” Hoppin points out that Bakk opposed DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton’s “tax the rich” approach to the looming budget crisis, and so this may signal that, if Dayton is certified as the winner of the election, the Democrats may not throw their full support behind him. Which is OK. After all, what’s a little more gridlock?
After all, if the Democrats aren’t going to throw their support behind their governor, who will they support? The Republicans? Well, yes, sort of, according to the Associated Press. At least, the AP quotes Bakk and Thissen as saying they want to cooperate with the Republican majority. So hooray for bipartisanship, especially when it only comes from one side. That being said, they did promise to be tough bargainers, according to Joe Kimball. “The new minority will be vocal in pointing out the consequences of their actions,” Kimball says, which is nice. We at the Glean know a bar the new minority can meet at, where there are already a bunch of guys who also enjoy discussing politics and pointing out the consequences of Republican actions. Or, if they’re not drinkers, there are a few web forums we can point out.
And then, of course, there is still a recount on — several, in fact — but the gubernatorial election dominates the headlines. Mark Dayton, who may or may not have won the gubernatorial election, told Minnesota Public Radio’s “Midday” program that the new governor should be seated by Jan. 3. GOP candidate Tom Emmer, who may or may not have lost the election, hasn’t commented. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has set a timeline for the recount, delineated by Jason Hoppin of the PiPress: The recount process will begin the day after Thanksgiving and continue until Dec. 14.
Conservatives relentless cried foul over the Franken/Coleman recount, despite there never being any evidence of misbehavior on Ritchie’s part, and it looks like they may be ready to start that process up again. In this instance, as reported by the AP, the MN-GOP is complaining about Mark Ritchie retweeting comments about the recount from his personal Twitter feed, some of which cast doubt on Emmer’s ability to win the election. An example: “9,000 votes is a mighty steep hill to climb and the Emmer folks know it.” The GOP is calling this a partisan statement that is inappropriate, but 9,000 votes is undeniably a steep hill, so apparently the truth is now partisan. The GOP has long painted Ritchie as a liberal activist, as you may remember. If there is a chance you may lose an election, it is useful to case doubt on the integrity of the election officials, although it’s not especially respectful of the democratic process. There’s even a fake Twitter account called ACORN4Ricthie (“Voter Fraud, Mortgage Fraud, and More! WE BUY VOTES”), because in politics, ad hominem attacks aren’t the last refuge of the scoundrel, but the first resource. Well, politics and the Internet alike.
We’re going to take some additional space for sports today, as this weekend was opening weekend for deer hunting season, and it was an especially chaotic one. Firstly, in the sort of scene that typically opens “Law & Order,” hunters in Stevens County found human remains, according to the Star Tribune. WCCO also reports that there were two car crashes involving deer this weekend — no relation to hunting season, as far as we can tell, but worth noting, especially as the combined crashes involved at least 13 people and took one life.
There were actual hunting mishaps as well: According to the AP, there were two incidents in Otter Tail County, including a teen who shot himself in the foot and a 24-year-old who fell through the floor of her deer stand. Another AP story informs us that a 52-year-old man shot himself in the wrist in Barnesville. And in yet another AP story, we discover that a 16-year-old in Big Stone County was accidentally shot by his father.
Outgoing (eventually) Gov. Tim Pawlenty also went hunting this weekend. Last year was something of a debacle for him, as he shot a deer, tracked it for a while, and then had to leave it to attend to business (leaving behind his hunting partners to finish the task). This was criticized as poor sportsmanship, and perhaps the gods of hunting had it out for Pawlenty: As related by the AP, who seem to have a yen for hunting stories, Pawlenty failed to bag a deer this year. Just like last year, come to think of it, as he never actually got around to bagging the deer he killed.
In arts: The Chanhassen Dinner Theater performed a mass wedding, which is usually the sort of thing associated with religious cults. But, then, it’s a sort of a stunt to promote their revival of the play “I Do, I Do,” which had its own sort of cult in Minnesota, running for 22-1/2 years, which is 22-1/2 years longer than Britney Spears marriage to Jason Alexander lasted (minus 55 hours), about a decade longer than either of New Gingrich’s first two marriages lasted, and 221/2 years longer than gays and lesbians are allowed to be married.