Good morning, and look, it’s Friday already. I’ll be talking with Gov. Mark Dayton on the radio during the 11 o’clock hour this morning. I hope you can tune in to MPR News. Here’s the Digest.

1. Despite recent success, Minnesota Republicans are at a critical juncture as they gather this weekend to choose their next leader. They enter the 2018 campaign with total state Capitol control in reach for the first time in a half-century. It depends on the GOP protecting a now-sizable House majority and claiming an open governor’s office. The party’s chair is responsible for mapping out the route, scrounging up some money to assist candidates and make sure the foot soldiers are there to get the job done. Jennifer Carnahan, Chris Fields, David Hann and Rick Rice are competing for the assignment as party activists gather in St. Cloud on Saturday to select the next chief. Current Republican Chairman Keith Downey is leaving the post after four years and is said to be contemplating a run for governor. (MPR News)

2. This seems a little earlier than he usually announces, but DFL U.S. Rep.  Collin Peterson, is running for re-election next year. “Yeah, I’m running. I’ve got 700 grand in the bank,” Peterson said outside the House chamber Wednesday afternoon. The ranking Democrat on the Agriculture Committee, Peterson is one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, and he represents an agriculture-heavy 7th District that would likely flip to the Republicans if he ever called it quits. President Donald Trump carried the district easily last fall.  Another DFL-held seat that Trump won by a similar margin could become open if 8th District Rep. Rick Nolan joins the DFL gubernatorial field. Before recess, Nolan had said he’d hoped to make a decision by the end of the month, but he said Wednesday he’s extending his timeline for a decision. (Roll Call)

3. The Minnesota Senate unanimously voted Thursday to overhaul U.S. Bank Stadium’s public oversight panel, agreeing with previous House actions in the need for change at the new $1.1 billion building. The House already has voted twice to restructure the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) and take tighter control of the agency’s finances as well as its use of two publicly-owned luxury suites. But the bills passed by each chamber differ on key points that will need to be resolved before a version can go to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk. The issues: the size of the MSFA board, who gets to make the appointments, who gets to use the luxury suites, whether the state should keep both, the handling of reserve cash in the stadium operating funds and what sorts of rules should be in place for the other publicly subsidized sports stadiums. (Star Tribune)

4. Immigration agents in Minnesota and surrounding states arrested considerably more people during the Trump administration’s first couple of months than in early 2015 and 2016. But arrests remained in line with those earlier in Obama’s second term. After months of speculation about how much the new government had picked up the pace of immigration arrests and deportations, new data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement offers an early glimpse. From the inauguration through mid-March, agents working out of ICE’s St. Paul office, which also covers the Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska, arrested more than 620 immigrants — up roughly 80 percent over the same period last year. (Star Tribune)

5. An 11th-hour White House push to give President Trump a major legislative victory in his first 100 days in office broke down late Thursday as House Republican leaders failed to round up enough votes for their latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. While revisions to their original bill won over conservative hard-liners in the Freedom Caucus this week, those same changes threatened to drive away other members, even some who supported the first version. Meanwhile Republican leaders in the House and Senate plan to pass a stopgap measure to give lawmakers another week to work out a spending package to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. (New York Times)

And finally, on day 99, this is pretty funny. (Politico)

Good morning, and happy Thursday. Have I mentioned lately how much I appreciate that you read this every morning? Well, I do. Thanks. Here’s the Digest.

1. Republican state Rep. Matt Dean of Dellwood will announce Thursday that he will run for Minnesota governor next year, saying he has a track record of “solving problems and making things work again.” Five Democrats and five other Republicans have already announced, but Dean is the first Republican in the Legislature to announce. Dean, 51, is an architect and former House majority leader. First elected to the House in 2004, he was picked as majority leader after he helped Republicans win control of the House in 2010. The GOP lost control two years later. (Pioneer Press)

2. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton issued a warning Wednesday that he will veto any bill that includes private school vouchers. The threat could put a tax bill, which contains tax breaks for donations to private school scholarships, in jeopardy. Dayton’s latest veto pledge comes with less than a month left in the 2017 legislative session. It also follows Republican criticism that he is not yet fully engaged in budget bill negotiations. But with the growing list of threatened vetoes, Dayton has sent strong signals about some of his key objections. (MPR News)

3. The year-and-a-half-long hunt for a new chief of the Minnesota Lottery ended with the selection of a former Minneapolis Public Schools official, state leaders said Wednesday. Robert Doty will take the helm at the nearly $600 million-a-year enterprise, which saw its last permanent executive director resign amid expense report questions. The lottery has been led by a caretaker director during a search that took far longer than expected. He begins the new job on Monday. (MPR News)

4. Dismissing concerns about ballooning federal deficits, President Donald Trump on Wednesday proposed dramatic tax cuts for U.S. businesses and individuals — outlining an overhaul his administration promises will spur economic growth and simplify America’s tangle of tax code rules.His proposal, a one-page sketch short on detail, would reduce the top corporate tax rate by 20 percentage points and allow private business owners to claim the new lower rate for their take-home pay. It would whittle the number of tax brackets for individuals from seven to three, lower the top tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent and double the standard amount taxpayers could deduct. (AP)

5. Former President Barack Obama has agreed to accept $400,000 to speak at a health care conference this year sponsored by Cantor Fitzgerald, a Wall Street investment bank. Out of office for about three months, Mr. Obama has begun the process of cashing in. In February, he and his wife, Michelle, each signed book deals worth tens of millions of dollars. And Mr. Obama’s spokesman confirmed last week that he is beginning the paid-speech circuit. A $400,000 speaking fee for addressing the Cantor Fitzgerald conference is a sharp increase from the amounts typically paid to his predecessors. Former President Bill Clinton averaged about $200,000 per speech while former President George W. Bush is reportedly paid $100,000 to $175,000 for each appearance. (New York Times)

Robert Doty was named new Minnesota Lottery executive director on Wednesday. Photo submitted by Minnesota Lottery.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. with Doty comments, background on search

The year-and-a-half-long hunt for a new chief of the Minnesota Lottery has ended with the selection of a former Minneapolis Public Schools official, state leaders said Wednesday.

Robert Doty will take the helm at the nearly $600 million-a-year enterprise, which saw its last permanent executive director resign amid expense report questions. The lottery has been led by a caretaker director during a search that took far longer than expected. He begins the new job on Monday.

“I was attracted by the work and the legacy of the lottery itself,” Doty said in an interview. “This is an opportunity to bring a lot of my skills together, particularly my strong financial and operational background, to running a business to benefit Minnesota.”

Doty emerged from an applicant pool of 94 people. Six finalists were interviewed before Gov. Mark Dayton made the final decision upon recommendations from his chief of staff and top finance adviser.

Doty, 53, had been chief financial officer for the Minneapolis school district from 2011 to 2015 before leaving to take a high-level job for The Harvest Network of Schools charter program. He said his background in financial management make him suited for the role even if he has some things to learn about the gambling industry.

He said he’s been only a sometimes player of the lottery, mainly when the Powerball jackpot has swelled. (As a lottery official he won’t be able to play those games.)

“Somewhat of a boring CPA is what I am. I’m looking forward to bringing some of that experience, some of that stability hopefully to the lottery,” Doty said. “I’m super excited.”

Doty will be paid a salary of more than $120,000 to run an entity that generates tens of millions of dollars for the state treasury and earmarked environmental protection initiatives specified when voters established the lottery in 1988.

Mike Vekich has been acting director for more than a year, following the sudden resignation of director Ed Van Petten in December 2015. Van Petten’s expense reimbursements had come under scrutiny, particularly lodging payments he took while staying in properties he owned while traveling on state business.

There was also friction between Van Petten and the Legislature over a slate of online-based games the lottery introduced without explicit approval from lawmakers. After a drawn-out battle and over objections from Dayton, legislators forced the lottery to shut down those games.

Questions over lottery management were also swirling after Van Petten’s second-in-command was fired for repeated bouts with excessive drinking, including instances while on the job. That official, Johnene Canfield, sued claiming discrimination. The lawsuit was settled last month for terms that haven’t been disclosed yet.

Doty and his wife of 26 years live in Woodbury. They have a son in college and a daughter nearing her high school graduation.