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First Franken foe fits familiar GOP pattern

Gas stations hit by high prices, too; Ventura won’t drop lawsuit; “safe rooms” in the works; BCA needs help with ID of remains; Duluth a focal point of synthetic-drug issue; and more.

MPR’s Tim Pugmire has a piece on the businessman willing to take on Al Franken: “Mike McFadden, a business executive from Sunfish Lake, announced Wednesday that he filed the paperwork to form a campaign committee. He also outlined a campaign message that will focus on education, jobs and reducing the national debt. … Education will be a key issue of his campaign, McFadden said. He repeatedly highlighted his experience on the board of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis. But it’s his business background in mergers and acquisitions that critics are highlighting. Ken Martin, state chair of the Minnesota DFL Party, said he believes McFadden’s firm essentially helps its clients to downsize and cut jobs.” And … we’re off …

In The Washington Post, Aaron Blake writes: “[McFadden] is believed to have the funds to partially self-fund his campaign. That should be helpful in a race that looks uphill for the Republican Party. Generally, national parties seek out wealthy candidates to fund their campaigns in second-tier races. It’s not clear at this point whether McFadden will self-fund and to what extent. … While self-funding is helpful, a business record can be tough to run on — specifically when it involves job losses and mergers, as McFadden’s does. Democrats signaled quickly that they will make an issue of McFadden’s business record.”

At Politics in Minnesota, Briana Bierschbach and Charley Shaw write: “McFadden is part of a developing trend in the 2014 field of statewide office seekers who are wealthy Republicans from the suburbs that are newcomers to politics. Businessman Scott Honour is running for governor as a first-time candidate. McFadden said candidates who have business experience but haven’t held previous elected office should have a place in the race. ‘Do we want a class of professional politicians? Or do we want people that have had success in their different professions that then decide to spend time and serve their country? I’ve always believed in a concept of learn, earn and then serve,’ McFadden said. As political role models, McFadden listed GOP Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.” Hey, he could have said, “Ted Cruz.”

Colin Smith of WCCO-TV has a different angle on high gas prices: “[S]ervice station owners want you to know something: They’re hurting, too. The biggest pinch comes from credit and debit card fees, charges which rise in lockstep with soaring pump prices. ‘Even when gas prices are low it costs several hundred dollars a day,’ said Rick Bohnen, who owns two service stations on Penn Avenue in Bloomington. ‘It’s not uncommon to pay $200,000 per year just in credit card fees.’ Although the formula varies from card to card, the standard charge is $.10 per swipe, plus two percent of the total sale. Last year, swipe fees exceeded payroll as Bohnen’s biggest expense. ‘Whenever gas prices spike, so does the piece of my profit that goes to Visa and MasterCard.’ Bohnen said.” But … I thought only Big Gummint crippled small businesses?

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Talk about a dog with a bone … Jean Hopfensperger of the Strib reports: “The legal fight between former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and another former Navy Seal goes on even though the defendant has died. Lawyers for Ventura have asked a federal court to continue his defamation lawsuit against Navy Seal author Chris Kyle, who was killed in February, by substituting Kyle’s wife as the defendant. Ventura filed suit last year against Kyle, a decorated former Seal and author of ‘American Sniper,’ charging that a California bar fight described in the book defamed him. … On Wednesday, Tara Kyle’s attorney filed a response to the motion, writing that Ventura’s move ‘comes as a disappointment, but no surprise.’ ‘Continuing this action will serve no useful purpose,’ said the response, ‘and likely will promote public perception of Jesse Ventura as someone who has little or no regard for the feelings and welfare of surviving family members of deceased war heroes.’ ” Did this guy Pyle ever “jump into shark-infested waters”?

The GleanWell, two schools and an RV park are a step forward, I guess. Paul Walsh of the Strib says: “Two safe rooms, built sturdy enough to offer “near-absolute protection” from tornadoes and other potentially deadly events, will be built in central and western Minnesota, state public safety officials announced Thursday. One is scheduled for Paynesville Middle and High School in central Minnesota, according to the Department of Public Safety. The room will cover 4,691 square feet and be built in the shape of a V with two 60-foot-long wings. The other will be built near Lake Traverse and be available for visitors of a recreational vehicle park in the area, not far from where Minnesota and the Dakotas come together.”

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension needs your help with 100 sets of unidentified remains. Says the AP: “The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says many of the unidentified remains were discovered decades ago, before DNA testing was available. The remains being tested in this effort were found in Minnesota from the 1970s to the 1990s. DNA obtained from the remains will be entered into an FBI index, where it can be compared with samples taken from family members. BCA Forensic Science Laboratory Director Catherine Knutson says the information could help bring missing loved ones back home.” Or “unloved ones,” as the case may be.

“Duluth” and “synthetic drugs” are becoming synonymous. Peter Passi of the News Tribune says: “Duluth could play a prominent role in shaping the state of Minnesota’s strategy for dealing with the issue of synthetic drugs. Next week the city will host Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and a special Committee on Controlled Substances and Synthetic Drugs appointed by House Speaker Paul Thissen to develop legislative recommendations. The committee will be led by freshman Rep. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, who said his own community seems a logical place in which to begin a larger discussion. … Duluth Mayor Don Ness acknowledged the city needs help. ‘We’ve been doing everything we can at the local level. But some of the tools that are available at the state level have proven effective in other places. If they can see the scope and severity of the problem we face here, they might be willing to take ownership of this issue and work with us to address it,’ Ness said.”

Speaking of … . Mark Stodghill of the News Tribune writes: “The girlfriend of the man known for selling synthetic marijuana in downtown Duluth has been charged with possessing the real thing. Lava Marie Haugen, girlfriend of beleaguered Duluth head shop owner Jim Carlson, appeared Wednesday in Douglas County Circuit Court on a charge of possession of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The marijuana was found April 4 in Haugen’s closet while she attended a federal court appearance for Carlson in U.S. District Court in Duluth. Haugen, 32, shares a home with Carlson in Superior. The Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force and the Duluth and Superior police departments executed a search warrant at the couple’s home on White Birch Trail that afternoon. … Haugen suffers from multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia.”