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MNsure signups hit all-time high

MNsure logoGet it while you can. Says Kyle Potter for the AP, “Minnesota's health insurance exchange announced Wednesday that it enrolled more than 116,000 residents in private plans this year, a record number that comes amid cuts and uncertainty for health care nationwide. Open enrollment ended Sunday, and MNsure's signups in its fifth year narrowly beat its previous high of nearly 115,000. But this year's strong figures came in an enrollment period more than two weeks shorter.”

The party does love to talk about entrepreneurial spirit. Another AP story by Potter says, “The new chairwoman of Minnesota’s Republican Party is seeking a 10 percent commission from large donations to the party, according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press. … And it risks upsetting major GOP donors and activists by diverting critical resources from a party that has struggled with debt for much of the last decade — even as it prepares for two U.S. Senate elections, a wide-open race for governor and four or more competitive congressional elections. In the Dec. 14 memo, Jennifer Carnahan seeks party approval to take the commission on large contributions from October 2017 through at least April. The memo doesn’t define ‘large,’ but an accompanying chart said it would result in an immediate payout of $24,500 in addition to her current base salary of $67,000 annually.”

She's back (in the news). Says the Star Tribune’s Paul Walsh: “Attorney and former state Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald has had her license to practice law in Minnesota suspended for 60 days, state regulators announced Wednesday. The suspension by the same court MacDonald wished to join includes a two-year probationary period.”

Also not running for governor: Tom Emmer. From MPR: “Minnesota U.S. House Rep. Tom Emmer said Wednesday he'll seek re-election in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District and made it clear he will not be a candidate this year for governor or a Minnesota U.S. Senate seat. ‘I appreciate the support and encouragement I've received over the past few months to run for governor or senator,’ Emmer, a Republican and former Minnesota gubernatorial candidate, said in a statement. ‘However, I look forward to continue representing Minnesota common sense and the Midwest values of the people of my district in Congress.’”

More details on the special election in western Wisconsin from Patrick Marley and Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “[Democrat Patty] Schachtner won the race 55 percent to 44 percent Tuesday in a district that [former Republican Sen. Sheila] Harsdorf won 63 percent to 37 percent in 2016 over her Democratic challenger. That was an 18-point improvement for Democrats. … But Democrats improved more in college campus communities and in suburbs. For instance, Schachtner won St. Croix County 55 percent to 44 percent compared with Harsdorf's 65 percent to 34 percent win among these Twin Cities suburban communities in 2016. That's a 21-point swing that was better than the overall Democratic improvement in the district. Democrats made gains that big or greater in Pierce and Dunn counties, which include the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and UW-Stout campuses. Students are still on winter break, leaving it unclear whether they voted in large numbers in the race.” 

This is going to get wild: Stribber Dee DePass has the assignment of covering the trial of former Starkey Laboratories execs. After day one, she writes, “[former Starkey President Jerry] Ruzicka’s attorney John Conard, told jurors that there was no fraud and that his client saved Starkey from a bankruptcy, lawsuits and industry mistrust created by [Starkey founder Bill] Austin. … [Larry] Miller’s attorney Paul Engh told jurors that his client is falsely accused of issuing himself illegal bonuses worth hundreds of thousands. Instead, Engh said Austin was actually ‘the fraudster’ in this case because Austin allegedly misrepresented compensation reports by failing to report payoffs in the form of bonuses and other financial benefits to female employees whom Austin and his stepson, Brandon Sawalich, allegedly sexually harassed.”  

Ex-PiPress writer George Dohrmann, now at Sports Illustrated, serves up a look at some (really) obsessive Vikings fans. “You know the home on Woodbridge Street belongs to a serious Vikings fan the moment it comes into view. The concrete walk has been painted purple, and giant yellow block letters spelling V-I-K-I-N-G-S run from the curb to the porch. The house’s clapboard siding is also yellow, and most of the trim is purple. It is the kind of house a neighbor might say hurts property values, but the paint job was well thought out. For example, the trim on the front porch railing is purple but the balusters are yellow, a touch that, depending on your view of that color pairing, kind of works. Remarkably, the inside of the house makes the outside look subdued.” 

Another feel-good football story. In the New Orleans Advocate, Joel Erickson writes, “[Saints punter] Thomas Morstead might be taking the torn cartilage in his ribs back to Minneapolis sooner than expected.  Morstead, whose toughness and class in Sunday's playoff loss to the Vikings inspired Minnesota natives to start donating to his charity, pledged on Wednesday to personally deliver a check to Children's Minnesota if this week's donations hit $100,000. What You Give Will Grow, Morstead's foundation, has already pulled in more than $60,000 in donations, most of them from the Minnesota area.”

Hot take alert. In the Bucks County (Pa.) Courier Times, Andy Vineberg tries to make a case of Philadelphia pop culture superiority over the Twin Cities. “The Philadelphia Eagles are playing their biggest game in nine years against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, which means we’re long overdue for one of those snarky columns making fun of an opposing team’s city and its fans. Only problem is, there’s not much to say about Minneapolis except ... it’s cold. Really, really cold. Like, -1 degree cold this past Tuesday night, with snow drifts as tall as skyscrapers and wind chills that can literally rip the flesh from your face. Or something like that. … Minneapolis native Prince was a legend, and I won’t dare say a bad word about him. But for all his musical brilliance, he only had five No. 1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Philly’s Hall and Oates had six. And let’s be honest, John Oates’ ’80s mustache put Prince’s to shame.” 

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Comments (1)

Re: Hot take alert

Thems fightin' words.