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Bill Clinton coming to town … again

Plus: Daily Caller piece calls Franken ‘inconsequential’ as Forum goes for McFadden; Minnesota Daily notes no education in governor debate; Brainerd Dispatch/Forum endorses Jeff Johnson; and more.

REUTERS/Jason Reed

Make way for The Big Dog. The AP reports, “Former President Bill Clinton is bound for Minnesota next week to campaign for Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken. Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party announced Thursday that Clinton would appear at a University of Minnesota rally the following Friday afternoon. Clinton has been a frequent visitor to Minnesota since leaving office in 2001, appearing at the university in June. First-come, first-serve tickets are available through the party.”

Both “inconsequential” and “unfunny.” That’s the conservative Daily Caller’s view of Al Franken. Says Eric Owen, “Before he was an inconsequential U.S. senator representing Minnesota, Democrat Al Franken was an unfunny comedian with bit parts on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ One of his shticks was to proclaim the 1980s as the ‘Al Franken Decade.’ While that gambit utterly failed to pan out, Franken later reinvented himself, somehow, as a political activist. He supported the Iraq war at its inception in 2003. Then, when the war didn’t go well, he fiercely criticized it. … As Politico notes, the senator’s current foreign policy positions are vastly different from the ones he took in 2008 when he enthusiastically insisted that the United States must withdraw from Iraq.”

Presumably the editorial board of the Forum papers thinks along the same lines. In their endorsement of GOP challenger Mike McFadden they say, “If Mike McFadden brings the enthusiasm and focus to the U.S. Senate that he has brought to his candidacy, Minnesotans will be well-served. Republican McFadden is challenging first-term Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.; and on balance, the challenger is making the case for change. … Franken, for his part, happily identifies with the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, who was among the most liberal members of the Senate. Minnesotans should ask themselves if they are OK with a senator who is a feather in the far-left wing of his party.”  

Here’s MPR’s Tom Scheck on last night’s not-exactly-riveting gubernatorial debate. “[Jeff] Johnson said he would make the state’s taxes low, broad and simple but didn’t provide specifics. [Independence Party’s Hannah] Nicollet did. She said she would eliminate the state’s corporate income tax. ‘I would expect that then we would actually grow revenue because if you make it cheaper to have a business in your state, businesses want to come to your state,’ she said.” Hmmm. I suppose it’s important to have an alternative to business as usual.

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For the Minnesota Daily Kevin Karner notes, “Gov. Mark Dayton, former Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and Independence Party candidate Hannah Nicollet squared off at the Mayo Civic Center on Wednesday, deliberating on topics like transportation, economic development and health care. But higher education policy was absent from the conversation, and the topic hasn’t been featured prominently on the campaigns so far.” My guess would be that higher education will flourish once we get that corporate income tax out of the way.

The Brainerd Dispatch and its Forum Communications management like the cut of Jeff Johnson’s jib. “Republican Jeff Johnson has the tools and temperament to be an effective counterweight to Minnesota’s DFL-dominated Legislature. He should be elected governor, replacing Mark Dayton, who has not demonstrated the convictions or leadership Minnesotans expect from the state’s chief executive. … Among Johnson’s priorities are to reduce taxes and shrink government. While that sounds like Republican boilerplate, the reality is that if Minnesota is to compete in a competitive national economy, it has to improve its tax climate and streamline its ossified regulatory systems. Johnson can’t do it alone, but as governor he can force lawmakers to talk about it.” Or, put another way, he could “go all Scott Walker” on Minnesota.

You gotta know what matters. Kristina Peterson of The Wall Street Journal writes, “Not since Michelle Obama got bangs has a hairstyle generated this much discussion. The nearly shoulder-length locks of Stewart Mills, a Republican businessman running to unseat Minnesota Democrat Rep. Rick Nolan, have produced both scorn and support among voters in the wake of two attack ads released last month that feature the GOP candidate smoothing his hair behind his ears. … While Mr. Mills’s hair style has divided voters, its starring role in the ads has produced a backlash even among some of Mr. Nolan’s supporters. ‘Hair – really? What does that have to do with it’? asked 57-year-old Virginia, Minn., resident Ron Kutsi, a handyman and former miner, who said the ads bothered him, even though he expects to vote for Mr. Nolan. Mr. Mills’s supporters are even more agitated. Aitkin resident and excavator Dale Lundquist, 69, noted that long hair could be seen as presidential. ‘What did George Washington have’? he said.” Uh … wooden teeth?

Let’s hold a bake sale. Forbes’ Laura Shin has part one of a two-part story of a young Minnesota attorney $350,000 in debt and on public assistance. “Lisa S.* is [a] 39-year-old on public assistance. She is also a law school graduate with over $300,000 in student loan debt. … She did some number crunching and decided that law would allow her to earn more than what she was then earning, even if she earned at the low end of the pay scale. She enrolled at Pepperdine Law School, deferring her loan payments from USC, ‘which were killing me,’ she says. The total loan debt for her MFA and her JD was initially $275,000.” Somebody either got a lot of bad career advice or none at all.

For lovers of inside-inside baseball, check out the scuffle between PiPress sports columnist Bob Sansevere, who says the Twins should stop “coddling” Joe Mauer (never mind that concussion thing) and have him catch again, and blogger Aaron Gleeman. City Pages’ Aaron Rupar covers the Twitter flames. Gleeman said this: “Bob Sansevere, veteran, high-profile newspaper columnist and radio host, thinks the Twins were ‘coddling’ a player by moving him away from catcher following a brain injury and thinks moving that same player back to catcher is now the best plan. And he literally never mentions the concussion in the entire column.


Pub any writer would kill for … . Larry Rohter of The New York Times profiles Macalester prof Marlon James on the release of his new book, saying, “Publishers Weekly declared that ‘no book this fall is more impressive than ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings,’ which comes out Thursday from Riverhead Books. In a review in The New York Times last week, Michiko Kakutani described Mr. James as a ‘prodigious talent’ who has produced a novel that is ‘epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over the top, colossal and dizzyingly complex.’ At 43, Mr. James is part of a new generation of Caribbean writers whose main cultural reference, aside from their home countries, is the United States rather than their former colonial power (in Jamaica’s case, Britain).”