Question about Minnesota? Ask Mike from California

A new website — www.msp2008.com  — for the 2008 Republican National Convention features someone named Minnesota Mike who promises to answer any questions out-of-towners might have about the area. But Mike’s a bit of an out-of-towner himself.

“Minnesota Mike” is actually a California Mike, Mike Vallante, who moved here in December to be chief of staff of the host committee. He was a former official of the California GOP and served on Rudy Giuliani’s since-expired campaign.

This website is sponsored by the local host committee. (The Republicans also have their own site.)

“He’s fast becoming an expert on all things Minnesotan,” Teresa McFarland, the host committee’s communications director, said of Mike.

That part of the website is visible but might not be working quite yet, organizers said. The rest of the site features some Chamber of Commerce-type trivia — WHO KNEW? Minneapolis ranked sixth and St. Paul ranked 14th on Encarta’s list of the most-educated cities in the country (based on the percentage of the population holding a college degree) — and other information designed for out-of-town delegates and visitors to the convention.

The host committee’s site has a button for a convention store — T-shirts, buttons, hats, elephants? — but that’s not live yet.

Some other trivia on the site:

WHO KNEW? There is no sales tax on clothing or shoes in Minnesota, so shop ’til you drop at the miles of boutiques, shops, stores and malls.

WHO KNEW? Minnesota has more golfers and golf courses per capita than anywhere in the nation. According to the National Golf Foundation, golf visitors ranked Minnesota behind only Florida, Arizona and South Carolina.

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