More data from the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal polling show President Obama with a 19 percent lead over Tim Pawlenty in a match-up, and large leads against every other GOP challenger. For Pawlenty, the worst of the poll may be that 61 percent of those surveyed did not recognize his name.
Now THIS will be a circus. Tom Beaumont of the Des Moines Register says Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum have “signaled interest” in a 20-city Iowa Tea Party bus tour this June: “However, Rhodes said, no possible candidates had confirmed their participation. Participating candidates and the names of groups helping sponsor the event will be announced in the coming weeks, he said. The plans are part of an effort by Iowa tea party activists to have an impact on the state’s leadoff Republican presidential nominating caucuses. Rhodes said the event would be a series of stops that would allow tea party activists to talk to candidates about their positions on key issues to conservative voters.” So if McCain’s was the “Straight Talk Express,” what would you call this one?
Minnesota regulators have finally checked off on the sale of Qwest to CenturyLink. Steve Alexander of the Strib reports: “Approval for the takeover of Denver-based Qwest, Minnesota’s largest telephone company, had been expected, but had been delayed a month to resolve remaining competitive issues. The vote by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission was one of the final hurdles that the two companies faced as they approached a planned closing in April. Regulators in several other states where Qwest provides phone service also must approve the deal.”
With a major decision about Local Government Aid in the air, the League of Minnesota Cities has released a report laying out how grim the budget cutting has already been. Bob von Sternberg of the Striub writes: “For more than two years, the League of Minnesota Cities has been tracking cities’ budget-cutting actions, compiling a list of more than 4,500 of them. ‘So much work is being delayed or pushed out that the cost of doing the work has become much greater, so the strategy of delay only works for so long,’ said Lena Gould, policy analyst for the league. The report also found that as federal and state aid shrank during the decade, property taxes have filled in the gap. In 2009, property taxes provided 37 percent of cities’ revenue, up from 23 percent in 2000.”
Despite a surplus of teachers, the bill facilitating a new route to a teaching license is on its way to Gov. Dayton’s desk. Matthew Stolle of the Post-Bulletin in Rochester says: “The so-called alternative licensure legislation has the backing of local chambers of commerce, including the Rochester area chamber, who say the proposal will offer a more effective way for people with valuable career experiences and knowledge to get into the classroom. Education Minnesota, the state’s teachers union, opposes the legislation because its effect, they say, will be to lower the bar for people entering the teaching profession.”
Scott Gillespie, the Strib’s editorial page editor, pens a commentary on the difference between Minnesota and Wisconsin. For the most part, he reiterates the known, playing on the always safe call for a “moderate” middle ground between two “extremes”: “The gubernatorial battle cries in these two neighboring Midwestern states could hardly be more different. And yet, in another sense, they’re similar. Both leaders are steadfastly appeasing one end of the political spectrum while infuriating the other. … Yes, Dayton proposed a predictable tax-the-rich budget, and you can expect the GOP’s upcoming budget proposal to look much like a Tim Pawlenty production. But those Minnesotans who expect their elected officials to find common ground for common good have reason to hope that balanced government will lead to a balanced budget — and one that will position Minnesota for a better economic future while Wisconsin remains a political circus and an economic also-ran.”
With GOP chair Tony Sutton causing waves with that letter he sent out to fellow Republicans, reminding them of how they are supposed to vote and such, House Speaker Kurt Zellers tells MPR’s Tom Scheck: “ ‘Chairman Sutton can send us all kinds of letters recommending all kinds of great things. We’re happy to hear them. … That doesn’t mean that I give him money and it doesn’t mean that I have to do exactly what Chairman Sutton says. I got a pretty big independent streak in my German heritage.’ “
Scheck also reports that Ms. Bachmann will be a guest on “Meet the Press” this Sunday. Says the NBC release: “Also Sunday: A Republican response from the head of the Tea Party caucus in the House, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). She’s traveled the country speaking to the Tea Party faithful, what does she expect now from her fellow Republicans and Speaker Boehner in the budget battle? Plus, we’ll get her take on the beginning stages of the 2012 field. How does she think the campaign against President Obama’s re-election should be framed?” Hmmm.
The Vikings have parted ways with T-Jack. Scott Schroeder of SBNation Minnesota says: “The Minnesota Vikings and former coach Brad Childress seemed to believe Tarvaris Jackson would eventually wind up being the team’s quarterback of the future, but after not being extended a restricted free agent tender, Jackson will be playing outside of the Twin Cities next year for the first time since the Vikings drafted him in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft.” Dang, and just when The Purple were so close to the Super Bowl.