Good morning and happy Tuesday. Remember to caucus tonight. Here’s the Digest.
1. Bachmann won’t run for Senate. Former Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann has ruled out a run for U.S. Senate seat next fall. Bachmann’s reasoning: She didn’t have any “sense from the lord” that she should try for the seat, which was left vacant after Al Franken resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct. “It became very clear to me that I wasn’t hearing any call from God to do this,” Bachman told radio host Jan Markell. Bachmann served four terms in Congress and attempted a run for president in 2012, dropping out after the Iowa caucus. She has remained a political figure since leaving Congress, including her public backing of Donald Trump for president in 2016. Meanwhile, a Democrat announced he would challenge Tina Smith for the Senate seat. Minneapolis attorney Nick Leonard said he will seek the DFL endorsement, but will also run in a primary if he loses. (MPR News)
2. Smith backs off abortion claim. Sen. Tina Smith clarified several social media posts on Monday about a proposed abortion ban after national fact checkers questioned some of her claims. Legislation that would ban most abortions after the 20th week passed the House last year but fell short of the votes necessary to get through the Senate. Smith was one of several Senate Democrats who railed against the legislation on social media. The bill “would ban abortion after 20 weeks, with no exception to protect a woman’s health and no exceptions for survivors of rape and incest,” Smith posted on Twitter and Facebook on Jan. 29. Critics were quick to point out that the bill did make exceptions for rape and incest — although in both cases, women would be required to report the assault to law enforcement before seeking an exception. “I want to clarify something,” Smith tweeted Monday, along with a link to her original claim. “The 20-week-ban contains no exception to protect a woman’s health. That’s a fact. The bill does include exceptions for survivors of sexual assault, but they are wholly inadequate. I should have been more precise by describing the bill that way.” (Star Tribune)
3. The day before precinct caucuses the Democrats running for governor met. The six Democrats running for Minnesota governor generally agree on many issues but an hour-long forum on MPR News Monday also highlighted some sharp differences. Among the disagreements: whether taxpayer money should used for pro sports stadiums, whether copper nickel mining should be allowed near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and how Gov. Mark Dayton did. (MPR News)
4. Republican Carla Nelson will take her 1st District Congressional campaign to a primary. The Rochester state senator said she has heard from many supporters who said they cannot make it to Tuesday night’s precinct caucuses or the district convention in April. Those are both critical events for determining which of the two Republicans — Nelson and rival Jim Hagedorn — will win the party’s endorsement. “I do not want to exclude anyone. I think it’s important every person in the 1st Congressional District has a voice in determining who the best candidate is,” she said to the Rochester Post Bulletin. Nelson said she wanted to be upfront and let Republicans know ahead of Tuesday’s caucuses that she will be running in the primary. She said she believes her conservative credentials, along with a history of winning in competitive districts, make her the best candidate to take on the Democratic candidate in November. Hagedorn said he is not surprised by Nelson’s decision to run in the primary. He said his campaign has strong support among party activists and officials from across the district. (Rochester Post Bulletin)
5. Sally Pillsbury dies at 93. Sally Pillsbury, a long-time arts patron, philanthropist and a moderate Republican party activist in the Twin Cities, died early Sunday morning. Pillsbury was a self-described moderate to liberal Republican who supported gay rights. She supported many organizations, including Planned Parenthood, the Guthrie Theater and Women Winning, an organization that encourages female political candidates who support abortion rights. Pillsbury spoke to MPR News in 2005 about the arts, politics and her life. She lamented that politics had become distressingly divisive and said she regretted not being able to arouse moderates to take action. “I was never able to excite moderates to work,” she said in the interview. “They say, ‘Where’s the flaming moderate.’ There aren’t. I can’t even get them to come to caucuses anymore.” (MPR News)