September’s here, the kids are headed back to the classroom and your food will no longer be served up on a stick. Here’s some political fare you might’ve missed over the long weekend.
1. The Great Minnesota Not Together. When it comes to politics, there isn’t a lot of togetherness on display at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. A man stormed into the Republican Party booth one day last week and announced that the volunteers and fairgoers inside all needed to wake up. At the DFL Party booth, a man was escorted out after he loudly called former President Barack Obama a “half-breed.” During a live WCCO radio interview with state Sen. Karin Housley, a man yelled a crude synonym for manure as the Republican U.S. Senate nominee criticized her DFL opponent, Sen. Tina Smith. And outside the sheep barn, a woman wearing a Hillary Clinton T-shirt was taunted by a stranger who called her and the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee “stupid losers.” (Star Tribune)
2. Maybe the “nuclear option” wasn’t the best strategy. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said Sunday that she regrets that her party eliminated the filibuster for approving most judicial nominees. The Judiciary Committee will grill Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, this week. If the Democrats regain the majority next year, she said, she’d support bringing it back. When Democrats controlled the Senate in 2013, then-Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) invoked what’s known as the “nuclear option” to get around Republicans blocking President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees. It allowed the Democrats to approve judges by a simple majority rather than the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Now, with the nuclear option firmly in place, Democrats have little power to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation. During an interview Sunday on NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” Klobuchar said that, in retrospect, the Democrats should have left the procedure alone. (via Washington Post)
3. Attorney general race heats up. With some nine weeks to go until Election Day, the rhetoric is sharpening quickly between DFLer Keith Ellison and Republican Doug Wardlow. Wardlow has been criticizing Ellison for having a lapsed law license. He contends Ellison holds dangerous views on immigration. He believes Ellison would use the office to “wage political war” against the Trump administration.And Wardlow said the DFL’s post-primary endorsement of Ellison was disturbing, given the allegations of domestic abuse made by Ellison’s former girlfriend. Ellison said he’s willing to discuss the allegations with voters if they’re interested but that he prefers to focus on health care access, fair lending practices and other consumer protections. On the matter of his law license, Ellison called it a “non-issue.” He voluntarily put his license on inactive status when he began serving in Congress. He said he’s on track to have it fully active again by the end of the year. (MPR News)
4. This was the first Labor Day since the Supreme Court’s Janus decision. If the Janus decision was a car crash for public-sector unions, on first inspection it looks like it resulted in a minor dent, at least locally. But it might have left structural damage. In Minnesota, nearly all the roughly 196,000 public sector employees who are covered by a union contract were members of their respective unions in 2017, according to data compiled by researchers Barry Hirsch of Georgia State University and David Macpherson of Trinity University. So when the Supreme Court decision that prevents public sector unions from collecting “fair share fees” from nonmembers took effect in June, just 2,000 Minnesota employees saw their contract-bargaining contributions end. That’s not an easy reduction to cope with, but in many states the gap between union membership and coverage is much wider. What labor organizers are bracing for next, however, is more members opting out. (Duluth News Tribune)
5. Did you miss Friday’s gubernatorial debate on your way out of town? It was a feisty one. Tim Walz and Jeff Johnson clashed Friday on the state budget, gun control measures and how to slow the rising cost of health care, outlining clear differences between the two candidates vying to be Minnesota’s next governor. Walz, a Democratic congressman from Mankato, and Johnson, a Republican Hennepin County commissioner, debated for nearly an hour on MPR News in front of packed and vocal crowd at the Minnesota State Fair. The stakes are high for both parties. Republicans have complete control of the Legislature and could control all of state government if they win the governor’s office this fall, but they haven’t managed to win a statewide race in more than a decade. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton currently holds the governor’s office, but he’s leaving the seat open this fall, and it’s been decades since a Democratic candidate for governor won following a Democratic administration. (MPR News)
Also worth mentioning: we’re happy to welcome veteran Twin Cities journalist Angela Davis as the host of our 11 a.m. hour. She comes on board in November.