Daily Digest: Swanson-Nolan fallout continues

Happy Monday, I’m filling in for Mike Mulcahy this week. Here’s what happened over the weekend:

1. Nolan ex-staffer allegations become an issue in the governor’s race. Several liberal groups are calling on U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, to leave the governor’s race after reports of sexual harassment allegations about an ex-staffer in his office. The allegations, reported in MinnPost on Thursday, center around former staffer Jim Swiderski, who several women said grabbed and harassed them in Nolan’s office and was allowed to leave in 2015 instead of face disciplinary actions. In 2016, Swiderski was briefly hired back as a contractor on Nolan’s re-election bid. But Swanson’s campaign showed no indications they planned to make changes to their ticket Friday. Responding to the allegations, Swanson defended her running mate and promised her administration would have a “zero tolerance” sexual harassment policy. (MPR News)

2. Eighth District DFL hopefuls spar in a debate. The 8th is one of two open-seat congressional races this election cycle. Republicans consider the seat, now held by departing Democrat Rick Nolan, one of their best possibilities to flip from Democratic to GOP control this fall. The top four DFLers competing in the primary are two-term North Branch Mayor Kirsten Kennedy; former Duluth TV news anchor Michelle Lee; three-term state Rep. Jason Metsa, and former state Rep. Joe Radinovich, who most recently ran Jacob Frey’s successful campaign for Minneapolis mayor and served briefly as his chief of staff. The candidates also talked about an item in the news right now: the hiring, by U.S. Rep. Nolan’s reelection campaign in 2016, of a man who left his office over sexual harassment allegations. Radinovich ran that campaign, and said he fired the staffer as soon as he became aware of his background. None of the three other candidates took issue with Radinovich over the matter. (MPR News)

3. Don’t forget: There are two Republicans running for attorney general, and one is a longtime Democrat. Former DFL state Sen. Bob Lessard says he is running for state attorney general as a Republican to protect the 2008 constitutional amendment that he campaigned for. Lessard believes what’s known as the Legacy Amendment and its constitutionally-dedicated funding for environment, outdoor recreation and arts projects is under attack by legislators and others who want the sales tax revenue for other purposes. The state Republican party platform calls for the amendment’s repeal. Lessard is running for the constitutional office in the Aug. 14 primary against the Republican party’s endorsed candidate, Doug Wardlow. Frequent candidate Sharon Anderson is also on the GOP ballot. (MPR News)

4. Taking over politics, one neighborhood group at a time? Residents of Minneapolis’ Fulton and Linden Hills neighborhoods are players in a new, hyperlocal political phenomenon. Yearning to make a difference and eager for community connections but not aligned with political parties, they are emerging hubs of clout heading into November’s elections, which will determine control of Congress and the fate of President Donald Trump’s agenda. (Star Tribune)

5. When rapes are reported and nothing happens. Sexual assault cases in the Twin Cities and across Minnesota are being investigated poorly or not at all, leaving many women feeling betrayed by a system they once trusted. Some states now require that officers who investigate sex crimes complete special training, but Minnesota does not. The Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, the agency responsible for setting professional standards, requires law enforcement agencies to have clear, written protocols for a wide range of crimes and situations, including domestic violence and school bus altercations. On sexual assault, the board is silent. (Star Tribune)

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