Daily Digest: DFL field for governor firms up

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

1. Now that Attorney General Lori Swanson has ruled herself out of the race, the six Democrats running for governor must decide whether to go all-in on the party’s endorsement.  The big question is whether the DFL contest wraps up in June at the state convention or spills into an August primary. DFL Party chairman Ken Martin says the stakes of the incumbent-free race are too high to let the internal debate rage on too long. “The endorsement is important for a number of reasons but for me personally and strategically it’s the first opportunity we have as a party to coalesce behind our candidates.” (MPR News)

2. Some of the Democrats who were set to run for attorney general have changed their plans. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson’s decision to seek reelection rather than launch a bid for governor has other DFL candidates reconsidering their plans. There were five Democrats campaigning for what many believed would be an open contest for attorney general. Soon after the incumbent announced on Sunday her intention to run for another term, state Rep. Debra Hilstrom and former Rep. Ryan Winkler announced they were no longer running for attorney general. “Always knew that this could happen,” Hilstrom said. “Lori’s done a great job being the attorney general and Minnesotans are lucky to have her.” (MPR News)

3. A new report calls for “immediate and dramatic” reforms in Minnesota’s regulation of senior care facilities. Minnesota’s system of preventing violence in senior homes is badly broken and can only be fixed with stronger state oversight and tougher penalties against facilities and perpetrators of abuse, a state work group concluded Monday after weeks of work. The group was led by families of elder abuse victims and senior advocates. It was requested by Gov. Mark Dayton in November after the publication of a five-part Star Tribune series documenting the state’s failure to investigate hundreds of beatings, sexual assaults and robberies in senior homes across the state. In a sweeping condemnation of that system, the work group issued a long and detailed list of recommendations to lawmakers. The 58-page report calls for tougher penalties against facilities where serious abuse occurs; changes to state law to give abuse victims and their families access to reports of abuse; tougher criminal prosecution of abusers; and increased oversight of the fast-growing assisted-living industry, which operates under less regulation than nursing homes. (Star Tribune)

4. The endorsed Republican candidates prevailed Monday in special primaries for two Minnesota legislative vacancies. Denny McNamara of Hastings defeated James Brunsgaard of Hastings in the Senate District 54 special primary. McNamara will now faces DFL candidate Karla Bigham of Cottage Grove and Libertarian candidate Emily Mellingen of Hastings in the Feb. 12 special election. DFLer Dan Schoen resigned the seat amid allegations of sexual misconduct. In House District 23B, Jeremy Munson of Lake Crystal defeated Scott Sanders of St. James in the GOP special primary. Munson had the party endorsement, but Sanders had the support of former Rep. Tony Cornish, who also resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct. (MPR News)

5. Minnesota DFL U.S. Rep Betty McCollum wants to impeach President Trump. McCollum is the first member of Minnesota’s congressional delegation to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. “We’re in this position because of President Trump,” said McCollum, who signed on as a Democratic cosponsor to articles of impeachment on Monday. “He is the one undermining justice by trying to obstruct it. … He’s had a year to change his behavior. He’s had a year to release his taxes. He’s had a year to prove to members of Congress that he takes his constitutional responsibilities seriously.” Several impeachment resolutions have been introduced in the House over the past year, largely as symbolic gestures of protest. McCollum signed on as the ninth cosponsor to a resolution drafted by Tennessee Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen that accuses the president of obstructing justice and attempting to use his office to enrich himself. (Star Tribune)

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