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Seifert and Ortman capture GOP’s caucus straw polls

Stillwater’s “Biggest Loser” wins — but critics not happy; in search of romantic restaurants; more ice-cave photos; iced-over Superior; 1 in 8 driving illegally; and more.

So it’s over, I guess … The AP says: “Minnesota Republican caucus attendees have expressed their preferences for their party’s Senate and governor candidates. Straw poll figures were still coming in late Tuesday. With three-quarters of local Republican party units reporting, state Sen. Julianne Ortman led among Senate hopefuls. Former state Rep. Marty Seifert had an edge among gubernatorial candidates.”

In an overview piece on last night’s caucuses, Jennifer Brooks and Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib write: “In Farmington, about 200 Republicans showed up on the outskirts of town at a middle school, where the walls were filled with campaign signs and literature for GOP gubernatorial candidates Scott Honour and state Sen. Dave Thompson, of Lakeville. Punctuated by cheers and applause, Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, asked the gathering crowd, ‘Who here is ready to throw out Mark Dayton and install some adult supervision in the governor’s office and the House of Representatives’? Beaming at the response, Garofalo said, ‘We are now closer to this end of this Democratic nightmare’.” What’s the First Rule of show biz? “Give the people what they want.”

We are swelling with pride … NBC affiliate KARE-TV “reports”: “Rachel Frederickson of Stillwater took home the grand prize Tuesday on NBC’s finale of the Biggest Loser. Frederickson, 24, started the competition weighing 260 pounds, and now weighs 105 pounds, losing more than half her body weight.”

Meanwhile, Rene Lynch of the Los Angeles Times says: “Frederickson, 24, of Los Angeles [!?] won the Season 15 title of ‘The Biggest Loser’ and the $250,000 grand prize, but promptly sparked criticism from viewers who say the show went too far by allowing the former competitive swimmer to diet her way down to 105 pounds. Frederickson started the competition at 260 pounds and lost 155 pounds, or 59.62% of her body weight. When the voice-over artist first walked on stage at the finale of NBC’s reality weight-loss TV show, she did so to oohs and ahhs. … the finale is sure to add fuel to the show’s critics who question the safety of the measures it uses and the ethics of grueling weight-loss regimens as entertainment.” Yeah, really. Network TV pushing the anorexic look. I’m stunned and outraged!

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A significant portion of the media business would collapse if it didn’t have restaurants to hype. WCCO-TV’s Matt Brickman set off to find Minnesota’s “Best Romantic Restaurant”: “[Y]our votes sent me west of the cities to Alexandria for Bella’s on Broadway. From the sidewalk, Bella’s might not look like Minnesota’s most romantic restaurant. But step inside, and Grant and Carrie Thompson’s vision becomes clear.” Fine. As long as they have cheap wings and football.

Some more very nice shots of those Apostle Island ice caves. This time by Derek Montgomery for MPR.

The GleanSpeaking of ice, MPR’s Paul Huttner relays news that Lake Superior is … completely iced-over … a month earlier than it normally does … in those rare years when it ices over: “You know it’s been a real winter when the big lake they call Gitche Gumee freezes over in early February. … The early and extensive Great Lakes ice cover is yet another vivid sign of the vigorous winter of 2013-14 in the northern U.S.” Thanks, we would never have guessed.

But for a reason other than you normally would think … The headline to Trisha Volpe’s MPR story says: “One in eight Minnesota drivers shouldn’t be on the road.” The story says: “An analysis of Minnesota court records spanning six years found nearly 310,000 convictions of people driving when the law says they can’t. The 2008-2013 convictions include learner’s permit violations and convictions for driving with a suspended, revoked, cancelled or disqualified license or no license at all. The records also show thousands of repeat offenders — drivers who have been convicted more than twice of some type of driver’s license violation.” Then there’s the crowd that thinks you’re supposed to stop at the bottom of freeway entrance ramps …

Meanwhile, somewhere south of the border … Olivia LaVecchia of City Pages says: “On Tuesday, Kelly Evans, the host of CNBC’s ‘Closing Bell,’ asked our former governor a simple question. [Jesse] Ventura was calling in to the show via satellite from an undisclosed location south of the border, and Evans wanted to know where, and why. ‘I’m off the grid,’ a bespectacled Ventura answered. ‘I move about with my TV show so that the drones can’t find me and you won’t know exactly where I am.’ …  As long as he has solar power and can reach the satellite, he explained, he’s fine. ‘I view the United States today much like East Berlin,’ Ventura said. ‘And I’m off the grid. I’ve tried for 20 years to warn the country about the Democrats and Republicans, and nobody’s listening.’ ”