Daily Digest: No wave in special elections

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

1. Two special elections didn’t change the balance of power in the Legislature. The balance of power will be the same in the Minnesota House and Senate when the Legislature reconvenes in St. Paul next week. Two special elections Monday—one in the southeast metro and one in southern Minnesota— were held to replace lawmakers who resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations. They resulted in Democrats holding on to a senate seat and Republicans keeping control of a House seat. Karla Bigham of Cottage Grove kept the Senate district 54 seat in DFL hands with a win over Republican Denny McNamara of Hastings, 51 percent to 47 percent. In the other special election, Republican Jeremy Munson of Lake Crystal won the House District 23B seat over DFLer Melissa Wagner of Lake Crystal, 59 percent to 40 percent. (MPR News)

2. The case against Fischbach is dismissed. A Ramsey County judge Monday afternoon dismissed a court challenge to Michelle Fischbach’s plan to continue serving as both a Republican state senator and lieutenant governor. Fischbach is the president of the Minnesota Senate and became lieutenant governor last month when Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Tina Smith to fill the U.S. Senate seat given up by Al Franken. The challenge was filed by Destiny Dusosky, a woman who lives in Fischbach’s Senate district. She contended that she would be without Minnesota Senate representation if Fischbach does both jobs Judge John Guthmann ruled she did not demonstrate that she suffered any harm, and that he lacks jurisdiction to decide who can be a senator. The judge left the door open to the case being refiled after the Legislature reconvenes next week. (MPR News)

3. Chris Coleman ended his run for governor Monday. Chris Coleman, the former St. Paul mayor and son of a past DFL heavyweight, ended his bid for Minnesota governor Monday, not long after a disappointing finish in a precinct caucus preference ballot. Coleman had been seen as a top contender when he entered in December 2016. He served three terms at the helm of the state’s capital city. And he had earned support from labor unions and a decent number of greater Minnesota mayors, the type of blend a candidate needs to be successful in the long run. Coleman also posted big fundraising numbers, second only to fellow DFLer and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz. With Coleman out, the battle for the DFL endorsement has narrowed to Walz, three-term State Auditor Rebecca Otto and state Reps. Erin Murphy of St. Paul and Rep. Tina Liebling of Rochester. (MPR News)

4. President Trump has nominated two new federal judges from Minnesota. Nancy Brasel is a judge in Hennepin County, who was appointed to the bench by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2011. She was previously a prosecutor in the office of the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, and a partner at the law firm of Greene Espel. She is also a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and a former managing editor of the school’s law review. Eric Tostrud is with the Lockridge Grindal Nauen law firm and is also a faculty member at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul. He has a long career as a federal business law attorney. He’s also a William Mitchell law school graduate. Brasel and Tostrud will replace judges Ann Montgomery and Donovan Frank, who were appointed by Bill Clinton. (MPR News)

5. Tax collections were up in January. Minnesota state government far exceeded its revenue projections for January, another sign that lawmakers could wind up with a projected surplus to spread around rather than have to deal with a deficit this spring. Tax collections last month were almost $350 million, or 16 percent, stronger than expectations. That bodes well for an all-important economic outlook that will be released later this month. The upcoming comprehensive tax-and-spending report will set the bar for the legislative session. Officials always caution about reading too much into the monthly figures because they don’t go in-depth about spending patterns. But it is the latest report that suggests a shift in fortunes; collections for November and December were a combined $219 million ahead of earlier projections. (MPR News)

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