Officials with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce said today that Bill Blazar will serve as their interim president.

Blazar has been with the chamber since 1992 and most recently was the business organization’s senior vice president of public affairs and business development. He takes over for David Olson, who died earlier this month.

The chamber’s board will discuss and adopt a search process at its annual planning retreat in August, according to a news release.

“The Minnesota Chamber is strong in spite of the devastating loss of its longtime president, David Olson,” said Board Chair Jeff DeYoung. “Its vision and strategies are clear thanks to an engaged board of directors and dedicated staff, both of which have been built over many years.”

The Minnesota Chamber lobbies on behalf of 2,300 businesses at the state Capitol.

Good morning!


After days of deadlock, a jury sided with former Gov. Jesse Ventura, finding that he was defamed in a book. Jurors awarded Ventura $1.8 million. (MPR News)

The former governor tells the Star Tribune he’s overjoyed that his reputation is restored. (Star Tribune)

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson was back campaigning for the Republican nomination for governor today, eight days after emergency surgery to repair a perforation in his stomach. (MPR News)

With only two weeks to go before a four-way primary between Republican candidates for governor, Orono businessman Scott Honour has the cash advantage. (MPR News)

But DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has a considerable cash advantage over the Republicans. (Star Tribune)

All four GOP candidates for governor say they’re focused on cutting spending. (MPR News)

MPR is hosting a debate between the four candidates today at noon. Listen to it live. (MPR News)

County elections officials are looking into voter registrations linked to mail drops. (Star Tribune)

Former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger has endorsed Jim Abeler for Senate over Mike McFadden in the Republican primary contest. He says Minnesotans deserve an experienced policy-making conservative to represent them.

National Politics

The European Union and unleashed a wave of tough economic sanctions intended to push Russia into backing down from its destabilizing role in eastern Ukraine and President Obama immediately followed, announcing a new round of targeted U.S. sanctions against “key sectors of the Russian economy.” (Washington Post)

House Republicans unveiled a significantly pared-back emergency funding package of $659 million for the border crisis and are angling for a Thursday vote before Congress flees Washington for the August recess. (Politico)

A ruling by the National Labor Relations Board could open the door to unions at thousands of McDonald’s restaurants across the country. (New York Times)

In a year when Republicans need only seven seats to control the Minnesota House, a handful of vulnerable DFL lawmakers are benefiting from a network of out-of-state donors.

More than $55,000 in contributions from Florida to California have ended up in the coffers of at least six Democrats who are facing difficult re-elections this year.

Those six DFLers have something else in common: they voted in favor of same-sex marriage, in some cases even when the idea wasn’t all that popular with their constituents.

Much of the outside cash is coming from a network of wealthy donors organized by Gill Action, a national group based in Colorado that connects people with money to give to politicians who have supported LGBT issues.

Gill Action is taking its cues from local organizations that worked to defeat a 2012 constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage and to support same-sex marriage legalization 2014.

Rep. Will Morgan, DFL- Burnsville, is among the beneficiaries of the Gill Action network, though he said he’s never met any of the group’s donors. This year, $9,750 of the $25,500 he’s raised came from people like tech executive John Barabino in Connecticut and New York philanthropist Jon Stryker.

Morgan won his district in 2012 by .8 percent, and the donations are designed to help him compete against GOP candidate Roz Peterson, who has raised about as much as Morgan.

But Morgan added he’s getting a lot of in-state backing as well.

“I feel really good about the local support I’m getting. My supporters don’t have a lot money, but they’re stepping up,” Morgan said.

Other candidates who have raised several thousand from Gill Action donors include Reps. Tim Faust of Hinckley, Jay McNamar of Elbow Lake, Yvonne Selcer of Minnetonka, Shannon Savick of Wells, and Roger Erickson of Baudette. In some cases, these candidates are in much better shape financially than their DFL peers or their opponents as a result of those donations.

Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL- Crosby, won his district by 1.48 percent in 2011, and is considered a top GOP target this fall partly because of his support for same-sex marriage.

Last year, Gill Action donors sent Radinovich about $4,000. This year, he said he hasn’t received any major contributions from the network.

Still, Radinovich said he’s not concerned, given how much cash his campaign has raised over the last two years.

“I feel confident,” he said. “Our goal is to raise somewhere around $100,000.”