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If not Bachmann in the 6th, who would be GOP candidate?

MORNING EDITION ALSO: Cravaack’s town hall meeting; groups lining up for marriage amendment fight; fines for LRT construction firms; Jindal’s fundraising visit; and more.
Read Wed. Afternoon Edition


Will Our Favorite Congresswoman return to her humble 6th District job after seeing, so to speak, the Paris of greater ambitions? MPR’s Tom Scheck writes: “Bachmann has said little about what she’ll do if she does not win the nomination. When she announced her presidential run in June, Bachmann said she was suspending her congressional campaign. That left open the possibility that she could resume it. Bachmann’s campaign spokeswoman did not respond to questions about whether she will run for Congress again. David Fitzsimmons, chairman of the 6th District’s Republican Party, said Bachmann’s run for the White House left some people wondering whether the district will see a race for an open seat. … [Chairman Tony] Sutton said several Republicans in the district could mount a serious campaign. They include former Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer of Delano, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch of Buffalo, Senate President Michelle Fischbach of Paynesville and House Majority Leader Matt Dean of Dellwood.”

Chip Cravaack’s borderline impromptu town meeting (on 24-hour notice) at the Duluth airport lasted precisely one hour. John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune reports: “More than 200 people crammed into a room at Duluth International Airport, with more spilling into the hallway, to hear the freshman congressman talk for about 25 minutes on what he called a growing U.S. budget and debt crisis. The meeting had been called just a day earlier after Cravaack opponents repeatedly chided the Republican from North Branch, Minn., for dodging DFL-dominated Duluth for more Republican friendly areas of the Eighth Congressional District. … The former Navy and Northwest Airlines pilot then fielded questions from about a dozen people for the final 35 minutes of the meeting that ended promptly one hour after it started. Most of the question-and-answer session was polite, but the discourse was occasionally interrupted by shouts from the crowd clearly weighted with Cravaack opponents.”

At Politics in Minnesota, Jake Grovum says: “[A]t least eight separate entities” have registered to funnel money into next year’s gay marriage fight. “Some are small: There’s an outfit called ‘It’s Personal to Me Campaign’ headed by a North Minneapolis-based psychic. Log Cabin Republican members have coalesced around Republicans Against the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. Other groups are veterans of the gay marriage fight, and they promise to be fundraising, spending and campaign juggernauts. The Washington-based Human Rights Campaign has registered its own PAC to oppose the amendment, and the National Organization for Marriage is an early partner in a Minnesota-based coalition working to pass the amendment. Organizations on both sides are building coalitions, rallying supporters and raising money in preparation for the long campaign to come. Minnesotans United for All Families will serve as the main financial and organizational hub for anti-amendment forces. The coalition includes a broad swath of public affairs groups, from the DFL and Independence parties to labor unions and religious groups. OutFront Minnesota, the Human Rights Campaign, Take Action MN and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits have all signed on.” Media owners of every stripe welcome all with open arms.

Nice move. The Justice Department is going to collect $4.6 million in fines from Hiawatha light rail firms who lied about how much work went to disadvantaged businesses. Rupa Chenoy’s MPR story says: “Minnesota Transit Constructors Incorporated has agreed to pay the United States $4.6 million to resolve the allegations. The company is a joint venture made up of Granite Construction, C.S. McCrossan Incorporated, Parsons Transportation Group, and several subcontractors.The Justice Department said the businesses claimed materials and services were provided by disadvantaged companies when in reality they were not. Spokeswoman Jeanne Cooney of the Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office said Minnesota Transit Constructors hired a few disadvantaged businesses as extra participants. ‘Their purpose was just to make it appear that they were truly involved in the project when in reality they weren’t involved,’ she said.”

Vin Weber’s move toward Mitt Romney has D.C. insiders analyzing the peril involved. Says Timothy P. Carney at the Washington Examiner: “What does his alliance with lobbyist Weber tell us? Weber was a six-term GOP congressman, an appropriator and member of leadership. He cashed out in 1993, going to work as a consultant and lobbyist. Today, he is a managing partner at the K Street powerhouse Clark & Weinstock, and regular unpaid adviser to GOP presidential candidates. In 2008, Weber backed Romney. At the beginning of this cycle, he teamed up with his fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty. After Pawlenty dropped out, Weber volunteered for Romney again as a ‘special adviser on policy.’ There’s nothing unusual about active lobbyists serving on campaigns. Even while Barack Obama pretended to run against lobbyists, he kept a handful of advisers from K Street, with clients like AT&T, the American Petroleum Institute, and Freddie Mac. But just because it’s standard Beltway procedure doesn’t mean it’s OK. Can someone being paid to advance AT&T’s or Goldman Sachs’s interests before lawmakers also give reliable counsel to a powerful politician? Liberals worry more than conservatives about this sort of thing.”

Let’s hope he brought some gumbo. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was up here Wednesday … to raise money. Says Bill Barrow of the New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Jindal is traveling to Minneapolis, Minn., today for a campaign fund-raising event, continuing an active schedule that has helped the Republican chief executive haul in almost $14 million for the current election cycle. A written release from Jindal’s office does not disclose who will host the gathering in Minnesota. Jindal will return to Baton Rouge this evening.”

In a Duluth News Tribune commentary, Sen. Tom Bakk says he will not run against Chip Cravaack for Congress: “Republicans fought tooth and nail to protect the richest 2 percent of Minnesotans even as they passed huge property tax hikes on middle-class homeowners and renters. They lined up behind an extreme social agenda that would have stripped workers of their collective-bargaining rights, criminalized stem-cell research and even repealed laws that guarantee fair and equal pay for women. After witnessing the failed leadership of the Republican majorities that resulted in a painful government shutdown and left our state billions of dollars in debt, I am more committed than ever to my work in the Minnesota Senate and continuing to fight for a better future for our state. While I’m grateful for all the kind words of encouragement, the work before us in St. Paul is just too important for me to leave behind.”

The AP reports on a Wisconsin study on the effects of the Affordable Care Act: “Former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration commissioned Massachusetts-based Gorman Actuarial LLC last year to study the reform plan’s effects on Wisconsin markets. The report found mandates that people purchase health insurance coupled with tax credits will help decrease the number of uninsured people in the state from about 520,000 now to about 180,000 by 2016. However, almost 90 percent of individuals without employer-sponsored or public assistance likely will see premium increases. After the tax credits are applied, about 60 percent will see increases.” Is there ever a percentage that sees health premium decreases?

The Grand Forks Herald thinks the lockout of American Crystal Sugar workers could be coming to an end. Reporter Ryan Schuster writes: “A union spokesperson confirmed this afternoon that American Crystal Sugar and representatives for the company’s 1,300 union-represented employees will resume negotiations on a new contract Thursday. Mark Froemke, a representative for the union, said union and company officials will meet with the federal mediator assigned to the case on Thursday. He declined to disclose the location and time of the meeting.”