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Reactions to Pawlenty’s presidential bid roll in

MORNING EDITION ALSO: Racino jobs questions; a stadium to be proud of; maybe a mega-Menards; raiding an Iron Range fund; and more.
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Most of the coverage of Tim Pawlenty’s “entrance” into the 2012 presidential race is pretty boilerplate. Patrick O’Connor of The Wall Street Journal adds a bit, writing: “Mr. Pawlenty’s announcement came as little surprise, as he has made frequent visits to the early primary states and has been a regular speaker at Republican forums featuring potential presidential candidates. ‘He’s sort of the tortoise in the race,’ said Doug Gross, Mr. Romney’s state chairman in Iowa in 2008, who isn’t affiliated with any of the campaigns. ‘Instead of trying to ride the wave of Fox News and be famous and pop in and out of the state, he’s on the ground doing all the hard work necessary to do well in the caucus.’ “

On The New York Times’ “Caucus” blog, Michael D. Shears lays out the five biggest challenges Pawlenty faces. Among them: “3. Message. In the weeks since he left the governorship, Mr. Pawlenty has been road-testing a more conservative message that he hopes will appeal to Tea Party conservatives and establishment party officials alike. But as my colleague Jeff Zeleny pointed out earlier this month, Mr. Pawlenty runs the risk of trying to be all things to all people — and failing on all scores.
More than most of his potential rivals, Mr. Pawlenty has been aggressive in seizing on the issues of the day, whether that’s the union battles in Wisconsin or the budget fight in Washington. The sharp edge to his commentary has helped to swing attention his way but makes shaping a consistent message for the long term a bit more difficult.

John Hinderaker, at the Power Line blog, says: “As regular readers know, I am a fan of Governor Pawlenty. He did a tremendous job as Governor of Minnesota. Imagine Chris Christie for eight years instead of one, fighting against bitterly hostile Democratic majorities in the legislature — not just fighting, but winning — and you have Tim Pawlenty. Some question whether he can excite the Republican base. I think he can, actually, but beyond that, anyone who isn’t excited about getting rid of the Obama administration by 2012 was never part of the base to begin with.” And T-Paw is positioning himself as Uber BaseMan if anyone is.

As the day rolled on Monday, the “job creation” aspects of the so-called “racino bill” took front stage. By last night, Tim Pugmire of MPR was saying: “Like earlier proposals, the bill would authorize the Minnesota State Lottery to operate slot machines at two existing horse tracks, Canterbury Park in Shakopee and Running Aces Harness Park in Anoka County. But [GOP Sen. Dave] Senjem said the big difference this time is where the state’s share of the revenue goes. ‘The money is not going to the general fund to grow more government or anything like that,’ Senjem said. ‘It’s going to go to a special revenue fund that is specifically dedicated to job creation and growth in Minnesota.’ Senjem estimates that up to [4,000] video slot machines would bring in about $125 million a year to the state. The resulting Minnesota Future Fund would help new and existing business expand and create jobs. A new Vikings stadium is not part of the plan. The biggest beneficiary of racino gambling would be the struggling horse racing industry. Senjem said he doesn’t see anything wrong with a big state subsidy. ‘They’re going to have to hire security staff, hospitality staff, housekeeping staff,’ he said. ‘They’re going to have some fairly strong obligations as well, and frankly they’re going to want to be competitive.’ ” So … chambermaids and rent-a-cops are the kinds of jobs we’d be creating?

Speaking of the Vikings, Kevin Seifert of  ESPN files a blog post saying: “I’m still having trouble understanding how the Minnesota Vikings will win approval for a new stadium with the NFL and its players at odds over the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Among other hurdles, the Vikings wouldn’t have access to a $150 million NFL loan that would be crucial to any financing package. But in speaking to a small group of reporters Monday, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said he doesn’t believe that a new CBA is necessary for a stadium bill to pass. (Recently, Vikings officials have suggested the plan could be approved now and activated when the CBA is passed.) Wilf said, ‘I’m optimistic’ that a stadium deal is on the horizon and added: ‘[M]ost important is we don’t want [the labor tension] to detract us from getting our home and making sure that the stadium issue gets resolved, so that the future games for the Minnesota Vikings can be in a stadium that [we] can be very proud of for both our team and our community.’ ” And really, how do you put a price on community pride?    

Menards’ growth plans include $5 million worth of land next to its existing store adjacent to I-494 in Richfield. Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib writes: “The owners of the land, Yik and Yau Lo of Woodbury, sold the 2.2-acre spot to Eau Claire, Wis.-based Menard Inc. last Thursday, according to documents filed Monday in the Hennepin County assessor’s office. The Los paid $2.13 million for the site in 2002, property records show. The spot is home to Jun Bo, a banquet-hall-sized Chinese restaurant that opened in 2006 in the former Chi-Chi’s spot at 7717 Nicollet Av. S. The restaurant is next to the existing Menards store along Interstate 494.” Hmmm … nearly 150 percent after nine years? Not bad.

Rising waters have taken out Shepard/Warner Road in St. Paul. The PiPress story says: “Shepard/Warner roads along the Mississippi River in St. Paul have been closed in advance of flood preparations. The route closed after the Monday morning rush hour between Eagle Street and U.S. 61. A temporary levee will be constructed between Sibley and Jackson streets in Lowertown. The closure will remain in effect until the river’s floodwaters crest and recede. The Mississippi in St. Paul is expected to reach flood stage on Thursday. Forecasters say record-breaking flooding is possible during the spring melt.”

Aaron Brown, on his “Minnesota Brown” blog, which focuses on Iron Range issues, reminds readers of the [heavily DFL] Range’s financing assistance via the Johnson Trust Fund, targeted for raiding under one current GOP budget bill. He says: “It’s very easy to look at this trust fund and think of it as an extravagance that other regions don’t have, one that should be gobbled up. But for anyone not familiar with the Iron Range mining tax structure, mines don’t pay property tax — haven’t in more than half a century. They instead pay production tax which is administered by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) in lieu of local property taxes. The IRRRB is a state agency, but performs local tasks with local tax revenue. Some time back this trust fund was created to generate an annual pool of funding for economic development projects on the Range. Now, you can criticize the agency’s decisions or those of its governing board (I often do), but this isn’t an outrageous use of the money considering the lack of consistency in mining tax revenue. A one-time raid will be a drop in the bucket for the state, but would be a once-in-a-lifetime robbery for the people of the Iron Range.”

Sally Jo Sorensen, on her Bluestem Prairie blog relishes digging at GOP state Sen. Julie Rosen … of Fairmont. (Rosen is currently best known for shepherding Vikings stadium legislation.) It seems Ms. Rosen is building a very nice, large house just a bit out of her southern Minnesota district … as in Mendota … far out. “This item from Politics in Minnesota is a bit old, but State Senator Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), has a new home in Mendota: Sen. Julie Rosen is building a new home in Mendota, just a few minutes from the Capitol. Does this mean the third-term Republican senator from Fairmont is planning a move to the city, and therefore out of her seat in the Legislature? No way, says Rosen: ‘This is a second home’, she told PIM yesterday. ‘My residency is in Fairmont.’ Her new place is likely to be the envy of greater Minnesota colleagues who put up at Kellogg Square or the Kelly Inn when the Legislature is in session; the $300,000 parcel sits on a hillside on Sibley Memorial Highway overlooking the river. The home next door is valued at a little over $1 million. Rosen and her ex-husband, Rosen Diversified/American Food Group mogul Tom Rosen, divorced last year. Word is that Rosen moved into the home in Mendota this weekend. Questions of perception aside, there’s a good reason to have a little place in the Cities if you’re a state senator from Greater Minnesota. It’s a long drive to Fairmont, which is 150 [miles] southwest of St. Paul, and while the upscale price tag is unusual, the need for outstate legislators to live in the Cities during the session — and duties during the off-session months — poses vexing questions for them.” She goes on from there to suggest the GOP add a 150-mile salient into their redistricting of her home district.