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Norm Coleman joins Romney camp

MORNING EDITION ALSO: Trade trip short on businesses; downtown luxury apartments planned; Duluth headshop raided; Vikes follow L.A. stadium moves; and more.
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Mitt Romney has appeal in Minnesota. Kevin Diaz files a report with the Strib saying: “The Minnesota GOP’s gravitational pull toward Romney comes at a difficult time for Rep. Michele Bachmann, who despite a strong start in Iowa has seen her presidential star dim amid staff upheaval and fading poll numbers. While frontrunners Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have been trumpeting VIP endorsements in recent weeks, Bachmann has done little if any of that. Some Minnesota GOP operatives say that while she has some strong conservative support in the Minnesota Legislature, her backers appear to be staying on the sidelines.”

Norm Coleman’s hook-up with Romney is the latest. At The Weekly Standard, Michael Warren says: “Coleman, a former member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that he will be advising Romney in particular on Middle East and Latin America policy. The ongoing debate in the U.N. about the recognition of a Palestinian state, Coleman says, shows a ‘clear contrast’ between the Obama administration’s policy toward Israel and Romney’s positions. ‘The failures [of the Obama administration] along the way … have brought us to a point where Israel’s position has been undermined,’ he says. ‘[Obama’s] statement about going back to the pre-’67 borders, his statements focused on settlement issues that the problem is coming from Israel. Obama’s approval ratings in Israel are in the single digit level for good reason, and by his acts, by his words, he has undermined a confidence that Israel has in the support of what should be its strongest ally.’ “

Tom Scheck at MPR writes about Gov. Mark Dayton’s first overseas trade trip: “The governor is scheduled to speak in Japan this weekend. On Sunday, a delegation of business leaders, trade groups and academics will join Dayton for his trade mission to South Korea. But the absence of big names in Minnesota business is notable. The large companies that are not traveling with the governor to South Korea include Polaris, Delta Airlines, Hormel, Best Buy and Cargill. Each participated in at least one of former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s trade missions. The South Korea trade mission includes 24 people, a much smaller group than trade missions launched by Pawlenty. Although 3M is not sending a representative, it is a sponsor of the South Korea trip. The state’s two largest business groups, The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Business Partnership, also aren’t traveling to South Korea. The political arms of those groups worked to defeat Dayton in the race for governor.” Pro-business is a sometimes thing apparently.

A 33-story luxury apartment building may become a reality on the Nicollet Mall. David Phelps and Dan Browning of the Strib are saying: “If approved, the Opus tower will rise from what is now a surface parking lot on the old Powers department store site at the corner of the Nicollet Mall and S. 5th Street. Opus has owned the land for more than 25 years. Construction would start next spring, and the first tenants could begin moving into the building in 2013. … Some developers remain skeptical about the demand for upscale rental housing. ‘Generally, the people who make money on high-rise apartment buildings are the second and third ones who own it,’ said Steve Minn, a principal at Lupe Development Partners. ‘I respect those guys [at Opus], but I just think the high-end luxury market has its limit. Right now, it’s more of a bubble than a trend.’ “

The cops raided Duluth’s landmark headshop. John Lundy of the Duluth News Tribune reports: “Duluth police raided Last Place on Earth in eastern downtown Duluth early Wednesday afternoon, shutting down the business for five hours and removing two van loads of boxes and 31 guns. In a statement, Duluth police said they had executed a search warrant as part of an investigation of the sale of illegal synthetic marijuana, and that no arrests had been made. Jim Carlson, who owns the head shop at 120 E. Superior St., reopened the store just before 6 p.m. but with what he estimated to be $50,000 worth of incense seized off store shelves. Carlson said the warrant apparently allowed police to seize all his cash, jewelry, video cameras and 31 guns, most of which he said were hunting guns he kept in the store’s safe.” They didn’t take the Creedence 8-tracks, did they?

GOP Rep. Pat Garofalo turns up in the Strib, defending his zealous attention to school district finances: “Both Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican Legislature made education funding and reform a priority. In a balanced budget editorial earlier this year, the Star Tribune recommended a $350 million cut in education funding. Republicans ignored that recommendation and put students first. Yet the same Star Tribune that called for education spending reductions now says that ‘the state should step up to reduce the need for voters to fund basics.’ There is no consistency between the two editorials, with one notable exception: Both criticized Republicans.” … Who are so regularly misunderstood.

Wisconsin’s largest public unions will not seek recertification. Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journak-Sentinel says: “Top leaders for those unions say they won’t seek to meet the high hurdle for keeping that current status as laid out in Gov. Scott Walker’s union bargaining law. With a deadline set for the close of business Thursday, so far only four smaller state unions have said they are seeking to keep their status by winning a difficult recertification vote. Marty Beil, executive director of the 23,000-member Wisconsin State Employees Union representing largely blue-collar workers, said none of the units in his group will seek recertification…. In March, Walker signed legislation ending all union bargaining for public employees except for limited negotiations over wages. Union employees can’t bargain for raises larger than the rate of inflation unless approved by voters in a referendum. The legislation also requires that unions go through yearly recertification votes to keep their official status rather than retain that status indefinitely after an initial vote creating the union, as had been done in the past. Unions can still exist without that official status, but government employers, such as schools and the state, don’t have to recognize them or bargain with them over anything.

At ESPN LA, Arash Markazi has an interesting post up about Angelenos watching the Vikings stadium slog … very closely: “The Minnesota Vikings don’t need to be told how far along Los Angeles is in building a new football stadium. Their ownership group receives personal updates from AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke whenever there is something new to report, which has been more often than not in recent weeks. Last week Leiweke … informed them the California Senate passed a bill to expedite legal challenges against Farmers Field, AEG’s proposed $1.2 billion downtown football stadium. The ruling could help the project begin construction as early as June 1. ‘We’ve followed the situation in Los Angeles through the NFL and we know Tim Leiweke, who is a former sports executive in Minneapolis,’ said Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public affairs and stadium development. ‘We’ve been in contact with Tim and he provides us with updates but our focus is on getting a new stadium in Minnesota. That’s our plan A and we don’t have a plan B.’ The Vikings have also been contacted by Ed Roski’s Majestic Reality Co. which has permits in place to begin construction on a football stadium on a 600-acre lot in the City of Industry.”

“Spot” at The Cucking Stool blog marvels at Our Favorite Congresswoman’s answer to a kid’s question about taxes: “Bachmann responded to a question from a student (‘Out of every dollar that I earn, how much do you think that I deserve to keep?’) by saying, ‘I think he deserves to keep every part of the dollar that he earns.’ … Here’s an illuminating comment made after Bachmann’s answer to the question:

“It’s his labor and too many people think that government owns that money when Tyler is the one that earned it,” Bachmann said. “The equation is all wrong. Now government says hey we want to spend this money, you better go out and earn it so that we can spend it. Government just assumes that all of our money belongs to them. That’s what’s wrong with government today,” she continued.

“Michele, Michele, Michele. You know that the Republican Party doesn’t mind taxing labor! It’s capital that Republicans don’t want to tax! You’ve said yourself that poor people should pay some income taxes.”