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Bernie Sanders backs Keith Ellison to be next DNC chair

Plus: Paul Gazelka named new Minnesota Senate majority leader; preparations underway for two legislative election recounts; Doug Peterson stepping down from Minnesota Farmers Union; and more.

Rep. Keith Ellison speaking at the DFL election night party on Tuesday.
MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley

Is this the Democrats rebuilding from the ground up? According to the AP, “Sanders gave voice to the frustration among many liberals in the aftermath of Trump’s stunning triumph over Hillary Clinton. He told The Associated Press in a phone interview that millions of working-class voters’ decision to back Trump was ‘an embarrassment’ to the party and that Democrats must take a strong stand against the role of corporate interests in politics. ‘It is an embarrassment, I think, to the entire of Democratic Party that millions of white working-class people decided to vote for Mr. Trump, which suggests that the Democratic message of standing up for working people no longer holds much sway among workers in this country,’ Sanders said. … He said he would support Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee.”

At Politico, Daniel Strauss writes, “A number of Democrats have been suggested as possible replacements, including former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, and New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley. In the House, besides Ellison, Reps. Xavier Becerra and Steve Israel have also been mentioned, but they’re considered longer shots given a reluctance to having another sitting member of Congress in the role after Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s troubled turn at the top. The Minnesota congressman has been angling for the job, working back channels to position himself as a strong candidate to run the DNC. Ellison, a Sanders supporter when the Vermont senator ran for president, has previously discussed being DNC chair with Sanders.”

Gazelka’s the name. Leader’s the game. KMSP-TV’s story says, “Republicans took control of the Minnesota State Senate on Election Night, and on Thursday they elected their new majority leader. Sen. Paul Gazelka of Nisswa was elected by Senate Republicans to lead their new majority heading into the 2017 legislative session. This is the first time in Minnesota history that Republicans will hold the majority in the Senate for a four-year term. … Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk was elected minority leader of the Senate DFL Caucus.”

For MPR, Tim Pugmire says, “Gazelka also confirmed that Senate Republicans will soon move into the new Senate Office Building, which was a project that they strongly opposed. They refused to make the move last session and remained in the nearby State Office Building. The current Senate Minority Leader, David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, would have been a likely favorite for majority leader. But he lost his re-election bid Tuesday.” Hey, it was a principled 12 months!

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Pugmire also reports, “Preparations are underway for recounts in two Minnesota Senate districts, but the actual review of ballots won’t take place for a few weeks. The winning margins in both contests for open seats were narrow enough (less than 0.5 percent) to allow for publicly-funded recounts, if the losing candidates request them. … Senate Republicans need both wins to hold up in order to preserve their 34-33 majority.”

It has to be easier without all those pesky environmental rules. Tom Cherveny of the West Central Tribune reports, “Doug Peterson is leaving his post as president of the Minnesota Farmers Union feeling good about the strength of the 14,000-member organization and confident in the abilities of those who will succeed him. And both are very much needed, as the challenges facing family farmers represented by the Minnesota Farmers Union are as great today as ever, and the urgency more so, according to Peterson. The biggest challenge is a familiar one: The financial hurdles for young people wanting to start farming are daunting.”

Presumably, we will be cutting back on intrusive government regulations here as well. A KSTP-TV investigation reports: “Minnesota Department of Health investigators are failing to check a majority of maltreatment complaints filed at nursing homes, care facilities, and hospitals under the timeframe established by Minnesota law, according to public records. In the last five years, state records show 60 percent to 84 percent of total complaints for maltreatment, neglect, and financial exploitation investigations by the health department were not finished under the 60-day timeframe established by the Minnesota Vulnerable Adults Act.”

This has got to cut my odds of nailing another one of the critters. Barry Amundson of the Forum News Service says, “Minnesota firearms hunters registered 68,958 deer during the first two days of firearms deer season — with northeastern Minnesota recording the biggest increase in harvesting, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Preliminary numbers from opening weekend show that the number of deer registered fell 3 percent from 2015. Of the deer harvested, 67 percent were bucks, compared to 68 percent last year in the first weekend.”

What’s with these people? Don’t they know it’s going to be replaced by “something terrific”? Says Ken Chase for the Forum folks, “More than 100,000 people signed up for the Affordable Care Act Wednesday. That’s more than any day since open enrollment started on the first of this month, but with a new president, will it last? In North Dakota, people with lower incomes qualify for insurance through Medicaid or through the federal exchange. If President-elect Donald Trump follows through on his promise, hundreds of people in places like Ramsey County [ND] will lose their insurance.” Duh! That’s why we have emergency rooms!

For Bloomberg, Laura Keller writes, “Wells Fargo & Co. climbed for a second straight day, leading U.S. bank stocks higher, as investors bet that a Trump presidency will lead to less regulation, sideline some of the industry’s sharpest critics and lift long-term interest rates. Wells Fargo, which drew bipartisan rebukes from Congress after bank employees opened unauthorized customer accounts, rose 7.8 percent to $51.73 at 3:40 p.m. in New York. The stock has climbed 14 percent since Donald Trump’s victory on Tuesday, the best two-day rally in seven years. The shares have more than recouped their declines since Sept. 8, when the lender announced a settlement with regulators for abusing retail customers. ‘There is this belief that the regulatory process is going to become much less onerous under Trump,’ Charles Peabody, a Compass Point Research & Trading analyst, said Thursday … .” What could be more reassuring than unfettered big banks?

Also: Emily Glazer of the Wall Street Journal reports, “Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Executive Timothy Sloan said during a town-hall meeting Thursday that the bank found “some instances” where reports by employees of bad behavior to its ethics line weren’t handled appropriately, according to remarks reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. … Mr. Sloan, speaking to about 2,000 employees in Des Moines, Iowa, said the bank conducted a review of the ethics line. While the “majority” of cases were handled appropriately, there are questions on some instances and the bank will further investigate those, according to the remarks. The Labor Department has said it is investigating allegations of retaliation at Wells Fargo, among other matters.” Well, I think we can expect a lot less of that kind of thing.