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Santorum’s night in Minnesota?

ALSO: Edina students “greet” Gingrich; the Twins to auction “Kardashian baseball”; a dolphin dies at the zoo; Anoka-Hennepin blasts Rolling Stone story; and more.

FoxNews is reporting a 33 percent to 24 percent edge for Rick Santorum over Mitt Romney prior to tonight’s Minnesota caucuses: “[P]predictions are mounting that Rick Santorum will have a good night after pulling ahead in Midwestern polling. But Mitt Romney still has the line on Colorado, which like Minnesota, is holding caucuses on Tuesday night that won’t commit delegates but should provide some insight into the trajectory of the candidates. Missouri is holding a non-binding primary that sets up the standings for the delegate-awarding caucuses in a month from now. According to Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, Santorum is leading in Minnesota, 33 percent to 24 percent for Romney. Newt Gingrich is at 22 percent and Ron Paul is at 20 percent. … the Land of 10,000 Lakes could be where Santorum can really stake his claim since a first-place showing in Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucuses. In the Public Policy Polling survey, Santorum’s personal popularity is credited for his resurgence, with higher than 70 percent favorability in all three states. That’s compared to Romney and Gingrich who fall in the 40s after a contentious fight in recents weeks. The poll also shows Santorum winning in all three of these states among Tea Partiers, evangelicals and those who describe themselves as ‘very conservative.’ ” I’m not sure. Is Rasmussen always identified as “a Republican firm”?

At Bloomberg, Lisa Lerer and Jennifer Oldham write: “Amid signs that Santorum could make a strong showing in tonight’s Minnesota caucuses, Romney’s campaign turned its attention from Newt Gingrich, long seen as its toughest rival, and set its sights on the former Pennsylvania senator who won Iowa’s party caucuses. In an interview on a local Minnesota radio station, Romney accused Santorum of increasing government spending by allocating federal funds for local projects known as earmarks. ‘His approach was not effective,’ Romney told WCCO radio … ‘If we’re going to change Washington, we can’t just keep on sending the same people there in different chairs.’ ”

Sasha Aslainian’s story at MPR says: “Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich greeted an audience of several hundred in a Bloomington hotel ballroom Tuesday evening with a promise to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform legislation, and a full-frontal attack on GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, the former Massachussetts governor. … Gene Parks and his family came from Rosemount to hear the candidate. As they left, Parks, his wife and sons picked up Gingrich lawn signs, and Parks said they’re impressed. ‘We are conservative. We don’t make any qualms about being conservative in this liberal state of Minnesota. And we’ve been watching the candidates and seeing how the media — and actually, even the Republican party themselves — have sort of been picking on Newt and that tells us right there that something good must be going on with him as a candidate,’ Parks said. ‘This sort of reinforces tonight what we’ve been feeling all along.’ “

Meanwhile, some anarchist Edina kids got in Newt’s grill last night. Curtis Gilbert of MPR reports: “A colleague of mine noted with interest that the hecklers who interrupted GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich last night were high school students from Edina. ‘Why do you support discrimination against gays and lesbians all the time?’ shouted Gabe Aderhold at Gingrich’s Bloomington event. … Aderhold and his accomplice Isaac Rothberg, both 17, live in Edina. At first glance, the tony suburb seems an unlikely hotbed of liberal activism — but upon closer examination, it’s not as unlikely as it looks. Edina’s politics are changing. Wth a median household income of $79,535 (well above the statewide average of $57,243,) Edina used to be a GOP stronghold. Republicans have represented the city in the state Senate since party designation was re-instituted at the Legislature in the mid-’70s. … It can partly be attributed to the ample coattails of President Barack Obama. He won the city handily — 55 percent to 43 percent — against Republican John McCain. That improved on the showing of the Democratic Party’s 2004 nominee. John Kerry also carried the city, but by less than 3 percentage points.” Edina … a cauldron of anti-establishment fervor.

At The Huffington Post, Ron Dicker suggests GOP candidates might do better with the base at caucuses if they vowed “no new taxes” for a Vikings stadium: “Here’s one way a Republican presidential candidate might gain more votes in Tuesday’s Minnesota caucuses: Promise citizens they won’t have to pay for the Minnesota Vikings’ new football stadium. … Despite state budget cuts in the stagnant U.S. economy, the push for new sports venues continues. Many will be built by digging into the wallets of taxpayers. The San Francisco 49ers are forging ahead with their own billion-dollar field of dreams in Santa Clara to replace Candlestick Park. They recently received a $200 million loan from the NFL to add to $850 million in loans from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and others. … In Florida last month, Michael Bennett, a Republican state senator, became so disgusted with his state’s already-built publicly funded stadiums that he tried to get authorities to enforce a 1988 law ordering the stadiums’ teams to house the homeless on off nights. … From 2000 to 2008, taxpayers contributed $5 billion of the $9 billion used to build 28 major league stadiums, according to a 2008 University of Utah study. That includes the $720 million Super Bowl site, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, a losing proposition for taxpayers.” But how do you put a dollar value on that proud feeling you get when you see your town from the Goodyear blimp?

This will be right up there with my Fred Merkle rookie card. The AP reports: “The Minnesota Twins are cutting ties with the Kardashians, too. Well, sort of. The team announced Tuesday it will auction off a baseball autographed by reality starlet Kim Kardashian and her ex-husband Kris Humphries. They signed the ball before a Twins game last July, when the Minnesota native and NBA player Humphries threw out the ceremonial first pitch.”

Taijah the dolphin has died at the Minnesota Zoo. Says Paul Walsh of the Strib: “Taijah, born in July 2010, died Monday night at the zoo in Apple Valley after bleeding was found in her intestinal tract, said Kevin Willis, the zoo’s director of biological programs. The remaining Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at the zoo are Taijah’s parents, 46-year-old Semo and 24-year-old Allie. An autopsy, known in the animal world as a necropsy, will be performed Tuesday at the University of Minnesota to determine the cause of death. Results were expected later in the day. … Willis said that Semo and Allie are aware that Taijah is no longer with them but might not have comprehended that their calf has died. ‘When we removed the body from the pool, the mother came over and was popping up and looking at her calf,’ he said. ‘Both of the animals are a bit agitated today.’ “

Walsh colleague Dan Browning, the Strib’s scams-and-fraud guy, writes today: “Given the choice between a nearly certain prison sentence and seeing their 24-year-old son charged in a mortgage fraud scheme, Jim and Teresa Hoffman chose prison Friday, admitting that they duped mortgage lenders out of more than $5 million. In exchange for their guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed not to charge their son Benjamin with any crimes arising from a federal investigation into a wide-ranging mortgage fraud and equity-skimming scheme.”

Accustomed to “balanced” coverage from local media, the Anoka-Hennepin school district is not pleased with the, shall we say, more aggressive tack Rolling Stone magazine took in its story, “One Town’s War on Gay Teens.” Sarah Horner at the PiPress reports on the blowback: “The day after a story about the district’s handling of anti-gay student bullying appeared Friday, Superintendent Dennis Carlson denounced it as a ‘brutal and distorted attack.’ ‘This is a vicious insult to all of you who have worked so hard to make this district and this community a better place,’ the head of Minnesota’s largest school district said in a voicemail fired off to his staff. … Written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely … [the story] chronicles the development of the district’s controversial sexual orientation curriculum policy while weaving in personal stories of students who say they were bullied over their real or perceived sexual orientation. And it highlights the rash of student suicides that occurred in the district and the possible links some had to anti-gay bullying. The district comes off in the piece as being unresponsive. At one point, Erdely writes that it is, in a sense, ‘in step’ with the Parents Action League, a conservative parent group focused on fighting the ‘homosexual agenda.’ The article zeroes in on the group, describing it as small but influential. … Laurie Thompson, president of the Parents Action League, said Erdely offered no proof that evangelicals or the district’s policy had anything to do with the student suicides or bullying. Thompson said Erdely ‘repeated and amplified the most biased and unverifiable rumors regarding bullying’ to reflect ‘another agenda altogether — attacking evangelical Christians and portraying them as unreasonable bigots.’ ” Well, at least we know who the real victims are.