Daily Digest: Dayton supports PolyMet project

Good morning and happy Tuesday. Here’s the Digest.

1. Gov. Mark Dayton has moved from being “genuinely undecided” on the proposed PolyMet mine to being a genuine supporter. “Nothing of that magnitude is risk free but I think it’s a risk worth taking and I support the project,” the Democrat said in a recent interview with the Pioneer Press. “But they still have to meet the environmental permitting requirements.” PolyMet is a proposed copper-nickel mining project in northern Minnesota’s Iron Range that is now undergoing the permitting process. The process may still take a while —  the final project may not be complete during Dayton’s term —  but the governor’s favor may give comfort to supporters and dash the hopes of opponents. Dayton had been resolutely neutral on the project for much of his term. Many along the economically stressed Iron Range have long-backed PolyMet’s plans for the open-pit mine’s promise of 360 permanent jobs and a revitalized mining industry. But environmental and conservation interests have said the project could lead to environmental disaster in an area that has long valued its outdoors recreation. (Pioneer Press)

2. In a packed City Hall Monday night, the St. Cloud City Council passed a resolution in support of being a welcoming city instead of halting refugee resettlement. Council member Jeff Goerger proposed the resolution “in support of a just and welcoming community.” It passed on a 5-1 vote. It was a response to a draft resolution written by Council member Jeff Johnson calling for a moratorium on refugee resettlement in the city, which drew strong reaction statewide. Goerger’s resolution states that St. Cloud is welcoming to all people without regard to race, ethnicity, religion or country of origin. It also states St. Cloud has the capacity to provide city services to new residents without impacting the city or its quality of life. (MPR News)

3. Some Minnesota Republican donors, activists and operatives are having trouble mustering excitement for the announced candidates in the 2018 governor’s campaign — a winnable race, in the eyes of many, that would award them full control of state government for the first time in half a century. The field includes Rep. Matt Dean of Dellwood, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, former GOP Party Chairman Keith Downey, state Sen. David Osmek of Mound and Phillip Parish, an educator and Naval reservist. “I think we need someone to enter this race with the heavy political horsepower needed to win decisively next year. I haven’t seen that in any of the current candidates thus far,” said Andy Brehm, a former GOP operative who is now a corporate lawyer. (Star Tribune)

4. In recent years, a rift has grown within the 8th District DFL over several issues, particularly mining, splitting progressive voters in places like Duluth and pro-mining voters on the Iron Range and elsewhere. The DFL has lost some folks in that latter camp — Donald Trump carried CD8 by 15 points last year, winning precincts a Republican hasn’t won in 80 years. The position of three-term incumbent Rep. Rick Nolan, whom Leah Phifer, 33, is challenging for the party endorsement, has grown tenuous, some in CD8 say, because of his increasing alignment with pro-mining forces. It may not be enough of an opening for Phifer to secure an endorsement, but her candidacy could provide the clearest proof yet of a troubling fissure in the DFL. (MinnPost)

5. People who live outside St. Paul have channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars into the city’s mayoral race. Campaign finance reports show about 70 percent of candidate Dai Thao’scampaign contributions came from outside St. Paul, while competitors Melvin Carter and Pat Harris have seen about half of their cash coming from people who do not live in the city. (Star Tribune)

6. In all there are 10 candidates on the ballot this year for St. Paul mayor. Incumbent Chris Coleman is not seeking re-election, opting instead to run for governor. Several candidates sought the DFL endorsement, but the party failed to pick a candidate at its city convention. Here’s a look at some of the candidates in the race and a reminder that Tom Weber will be moderating debates with the Minneapolis candidates on Oct. 30 and the St. Paul candidates on Nov. 2. They’ll be on the air on MPR News at 11 a.m. both days, and you can help Tom out by submitting a question for the candidates that he might ask during the debate. Click here for Minneapolis and here for St. Paul. (MPR News)

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