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Smith, Housley clash over health care, immigration and guns in debate

Plus: PolyMet gets OK from DNR for northern Minnesota mining project; St. Thomas student dies after falling from apartment building; Twin Cities could see snow over the weekend; and more.

Sen. Tina Smith, state Sen. Karin Housley
MinnPost photos by Lorie Shaull/Brian Halliday
Sen. Tina Smith, state Sen. Karin Housley
Judy Keen of the Star Tribune reports: “In their first debate, Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and GOP state Sen. Karin Housley on Thursday clashed over issues ranging from health care and immigration to the nation’s partisan divide. Both agreed, however, that PolyMet’s copper and nickel mine, which the state said earlier Thursday can proceed, would help the economy of northern Minnesota. … They’ll debate again Sunday on MPR.”

MPR reports: “The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Thursday it has issued permits for PolyMet Mining’s proposed copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota, a huge step forward for the controversial project. The DNR has issued the permit to mine, six water appropriation permits, two dam safety permits, a public waters work permit and an endangered species takings permit, the agency said in a statement. The project will still need water and air quality permits from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and a wetlands permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. It will also need additional local permits and approvals.”

Says the AP, “Authorities are investigating the death of a University of St. Thomas student who fell from a 10th-floor apartment in Minneapolis during a Halloween party. Authorities were called to the Bridges apartments near the University of Minnesota just before 1 a.m. Thursday. Minneapolis Fire Department Assistant Chief Bryan Tyner said authorities found a woman who had fallen from the 10th floor. St. Thomas, in St. Paul, identified the woman as first-year student Joia Simpson of Bayside, Calif.”

KSTP-TV reports: “The north metro could see some snow in the morning Friday. Drizzle and light rain is more likely throughout the day. The high is 44 degrees. There’s another chance for snow and rain Saturday and Sunday, and temperatures will hover in the lower 40s through the weekend.”

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The Strib’s Liz Sawyer reports: “Five men were hospitalized with gunshot wounds Thursday afternoon after an argument turned violent in north Minneapolis. Police responded to a ShotSpotter activation on 34th and Girard avenues N. around 4:45 p.m., where several callers reported that multiple people had been shot. Authorities found four men suffering from gunshot wounds at the scene and took them to North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale. One man was listed in critical condition. A fifth gunshot victim arrived at the hospital later on ….”

For MPR, Laura McCallum writes, “It’s been 20 years since Minnesotans elected the flamboyant pro-wrestler turned politician Jesse Ventura, who clashed with the media and called them jackals. But any comparison to him and the also combative President Donald Trump is nonsense, Ventura said during a wide-ranging and reflective interview this week with MPR News host Tom Crann. ‘It’s hogwash,’ said Ventura, now 67. His former chief of staff, Steven Bosacker, was more pointed. ‘Jesse Ventura is colorful. He’s not corrupt,’ said Bosacker, now the Principal of Public Sector and Partnerships at Living Cities in Washington, D.C.”

In the Business Journal Alex Van Abbema reports, “Mattress Firm has closed seven Minnesota stores as part of its bankruptcy filing, including six stores in the Twin Cities. When the Houston-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month, it said it would close up to 700 stores, with an initial round of closures of 200 stores.”

Stribber Jackie Crosby writes, “We have hardly said goodbye to the ghosts and goblins of Halloween, but it’s time to get primed for Christmas. Target Corp. attempted to jump-start the holiday promotional blitz early Thursday by rolling out its Black Friday print and television advertisements with specials that started immediately. …The Minneapolis-based retailer said it will open stores at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving.”

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This from Alex Pappas at Fox News, “Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday called Barack Obama ‘the biggest liar of the world,’ in reference to the former Democratic president’s infamous claim that people could keep their health care plans under ObamaCare.Walker, locked in a tight re-election battle with Democratic challenger Tony Evers, made the comments during a campaign speech in Waukesha with House Speaker Paul Ryan at his side. Referencing how Wisconsin Democrats brought Obama in to rally voters last week, Walker mentioned how Politifact in 2013 rated Obama’s claim about keeping their health care its ‘lie of the year.’”

In the PiPress, Dave Orrick looks at various criticisms made against Keith Ellison and says, “The accusation: Ellison wants to impose sharia law or has failed to renounce sharia. The takeaway: Sharia refers to divine law of Islam. … There’s no evidence that Ellison wants any such thing, and when asked directly to compare sharia with the Constitution, he’s said the Constitution is the ‘bedrock’ of American law. … Nonetheless, this notion persists. During the past week, Wardlow’s wife, Jenny Wardlow, retweeted and liked several tweets that made such claims about Ellison. The retweets and likes were online Thursday afternoon, when the Pioneer Press asked the Wardlow campaign for comment on them. Within a few hours, Jenny Wardlow’s Twitter feed had been thoroughly scrubbed, and many, if not all, of the retweets and likes were no longer visible.

A Strib editorial says, “Two flawed candidates are vying to be Minnesota’s next attorney general. The Star Tribune Editorial Board cannot recommend either Republican Doug Wardlow or DFLer Keith Ellison, both of whom are too partisan to hold a statewide office wielding immense power and in which the public’s trust is so vital to its mission.”