The Daily Digest

Welcome to the Daily Digest, where…well…there’s a lot going on.

Let’s start with the latest on Sen. Amy Koch.

MPR reports that Sen. Geoff Michel knew in September that Koch was having an inappropriate relationship with a staffer. That contradicts his statement last week that complaints about the relationship came up a few weeks ago.

We’ve also learned that Koch’s former chief of staff, Cullen Sheehan, was the first person to confront Koch and the staffer about the relationship, as well as bring it to Michel’s attention.

After being contacted by MPR for comment on the story, Koch issued a statement acknowledging the relationship and apologizing for it.

MPR also looks at the challenges facing the new Republican party leader and the new Senate Majority Leader.

Sen. Dave Thompson won’t run for Majority Leader.

In Other Minnesota News

Though the St. Croix bridge may be on the backburner in Washington, it’s still an important topic in Minnesota.

Duluth’s new public schools superintendent does not have a state license.

MPR reports that an anti-abortion group wants legislators to get involved in planning a Minnesota health insurance exchange.

The farming economy is doing well, MPR reports.

Republican Party 2nd District Chair Terry McCall will run for Minnesota Republican Party chair.

In Washington

MPR profiles Rep. Betty McCollum and her role in the St. Croix bridge debate.

A bipartisan group of House members from Minnesota and Wisconsin are asking the House leadership to vote on authorization the new St. Croix bridge.

The debate over the payroll tax cut could hurt Republicans, writes the Washington Post.

Despite criticism from within their party, Republican freshman lawmakers are pushing back hard on the payroll tax cut extension.

The NRCC is blaming Rep. Collin Peterson and other Democrats for creating the payroll tax cut gridlock.

The Star Tribune takes a look at the payroll tax debate as well.

On the Campaign Trail

Weeks before the Iowa caucuses, Ron Paul is doing well in polls. His Real Clear Politics average is 23.8 percent, which puts him first in Iowa. There’s a lot of buzz about what a Paul win there would mean for the relevancy of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status.

Rep. Michele Bachmann is confident about beating Mitt Romney, Politico reports.

She and Rick Santorum have similar platforms, but different styles, reports ABC News.

In the Huffington Post, Tom Wilson with the Centre for Transatlantic Affairs writes that Bachmann’s critics aren’t giving her enough credit.

Bachmann’s supporters think she’s great, but worry she can’t win the general election, Politico reports.

While Washington is mired in a debate over the payroll tax, the GOP presidential candidates are are treading carefully on the topic.

Super PACs are the “bad cops” of the 2012 election, Politico writes.

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