He may not be Amy Klobuchar, but Al Franken’s re-election prospects are starting out strong. At MPR, Catharine Richert notes some sage prognosticating: “Larry Sabato, a political science professor at the University of Virginia, is already dishing out predictions, and so far he thinks DFL Sen. Al Franken will hold on to his seat — unless Republicans put up a strong candidate. Roll Call gives the Minnesota Senate race a similar rating of ‘leans Democrat.’ Here’s what Sabato wrote on his ‘Crystal Ball’ blog:
‘After winning the narrowest of belated victories in 2009, Sen. Al Franken (D) has a decent approval rating in Gopherland, and he enters his first reelection bid as a slight favorite. We suspect he would trounce Rep. Michele Bachmann (R), who barely survived her 2012 reelection bid in Minnesota’s most Republican House district. Another possibility — one-time presidential contender and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) — will not be a candidate, having landed a lucrative job in association-land. The quality of the Republican challenger will determine much here. Minnesota has a reputation for being more Democratic than it actually is.’ ” Let me just offer a few names: Mike Parry. Allen Quist. Tom Hackbarth. Tony Cornish. Mary Franson. Amy Koch. The GOP has a deep bench.
Since when is 78.4 mph a speed record? Mary Divine of the PiPress says: “Setting a world land-speed record for electric motorcycles turned out to be harder than Kevin Clemens thought it would be. Clemens, who lives in Lake Elmo, hit 78.4 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on Aug. 28, but his world record wasn’t official until the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme ratified it at a meeting earlier this month in Valencia, Spain. Clemens got word in the mail on Monday, Nov. 26.”
She will NOT be competition for the mayor himself. Eric Roper of the Strib says: “With R.T. Rybak still mulling whether he’ll seek a fourth term, one council member has thrown her hat in the ring as a possible successor if he chooses to step aside. Betsy Hodges, the council’s budget chair, filed campaign finance paperwork yesterday with Hennepin County announcing her intentions to run for City Hall’s top post in 2013. Hodges says she won’t run, however, if Rybak decides to seek another term.”
Pretty wrenching story from the Strib’s Abby Simons on the long, slow passing of a beating victim: “Norman Burton lay tethered to tubes and ventilators in a St. Paul hospital on the last day of his life when he turned to his wife, his eyes pleading. It’s OK to go, Sherry Burton reassured her husband. Loved ones were waiting for him on the other side, and he would see them soon. He blinked once, his way of saying ‘Yes.’ Then he looked at the ceiling and was gone. Burton, 60, died Nov. 7 from complications of pneumonia. But life as he knew it ended back in 2009 when four gang members beat him so savagely that he spent the last three years of his life in a nursing home, paralyzed and severely brain-damaged in what one judge called a fate possibly worse than death. All four known members of the Asian Crips pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and were sentenced to 14 to 20 years in prison, more than twice what the state recommends. But now that Burton has died, prosecutors must determine whether they can — or will — reopen the cases to charge the men with homicide.”
MPR’s Jessica Mador also has a story that pushes emotional buttons: “[John] Chun’s dream is turning into a nightmare. At 84, he and his wife Helen, who also is from Korea, may lose the home they have owned since the 1970s to foreclosure, even though they have plenty of equity. Like thousands of other homeowners across the county, the Chuns are fighting in the courts to save their home, even as the housing market improves and the number of foreclosures is declining. … With a modification seemingly out of reach, the Chuns hired a realtor to put their house on the market. The property listed for $1.4 million. According to their real estate agent, the couple stood to recoup at least $265,000 in equity if they sold their home. An IndyMac representative again contacted the Chuns with offers of another loan modification and promised their application would be approved on the third try. Hoping to save the house where they had raised their children, the Chuns then took their home off the market to apply for another modification. But while IndyMac processed the Chuns’ application for a loan modification, the company sold their home at a foreclosure auction. The bank then bought the home for just over $685,000.” How many different ways do we need a full-powered consumer protection agency?
They aren’t The Big Enchilada, but they’ll do. The AP says: “The two grand-prize-winning Powerball tickets were sold in Arizona and Missouri, but some tickets sold in Minnesota and Wisconsin qualified as nice consolation prizes. State lottery officials say one ticket sold in Minnesota’s Winona County matched all five numbers but not the Powerball. That ticket is worth $1 million. A $1 million ticket also was sold in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis, Wis.”
What is this all about? Thomas Lee’s Strib story on Target’s unexpectedly weak November sales numbers says: “Target Corp. said Thursday that sales at stores open for at least a year in November fell one percent, a surprisingly weak performance for a retailer that has enjoyed robust sales growth for most of the year. In fact, Target has not recorded a decrease in comparable store sales since March 2011. Overall, the Minneapolis-based company said it generated $6.183 billion in sales for the four weeks ended Nov. 24, a decrease of 0.1 percent from the same period a year ago. So far this year, sales are up 3.8 percent to $55.8 billion with comparable store sales rising 3.2 percent. The numbers suggest consumers withheld their spending until the end of the month to take advantage of Black Friday-related deals.”
The cult cachet thing didn’t last long. Nick Ferraro of the PiPress says: “South Robert Street is no longer the place to get Sonic burgers, tater tots and a cherry limeade or malt. The franchisee of the West St. Paul Sonic has shut down the fast-foot drive-in “due to a variety of reasons,” a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma-based company said in a statement. The Sonic opened in late 2008 at the former TimberLodge Steakhouse site, just south of Wentworth Avenue. The 1,700-square-foot restaurant had 23 drive-in stalls. But evidence of potential trouble surfaced this past spring, when a for-sale sign was posted at the site.”
Checking with Power Line’s deep thinkers, I see John Hinderaker remains anchored in his belief that welfare queens are nearly as big a threat to the country as loose nukes: “Mitt Romney said on a conference call with supporters, among many other things, that Obama bought a lot of votes with “gifts” to various constituencies, an evidently true observation for which he mysteriously was maligned by Bobby Jindal and others. The truth is much worse than Romney suggested or than most people imagine: the middle class is right to feel bitter and betrayed. Those who work for a living have been sold out by federal and state governments that have created a welfare system gone mad. … We are constantly told that it is difficult to find any state or federal spending that can possibly be cut. This suggestion is, I think, ludicrous. Let’s start by cutting welfare, and cutting it deeply. Not only because it is wasteful, but because by devaluing work it threatens to cripple not merely our economy, but our culture.” John, can we begin with cutting — “deeply” — the carried interest deduction welfare subsidy?