Daily Digest: Immigration, guns, emails and debates

Good morning, and welcome to Friday. Here’s the Digest.

1. Poll: more Minnesotans disapprove than approve of President Trump’s immigration policies. Cracking down on immigration was a central theme of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and his call for building a wall at the Mexican border still draws wild applause at campaign rallies across the country. But many Minnesotans do not agree with the direction Trump is moving on immigration. An MPR News/Star Tribune Minnesota Poll of 800 likely voters last week found that just 42 percent approve of Trump’s handling of immigration policy while 52 percent disapprove. Six percent said they were unsure. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Some Minnesota Republicans are also talking about immigration as the election draws near. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the Republican candidate for governor, promoted a moratorium on refugee resettlement in a recent debate with Democratic Tim Walz. “Let’s pause refugee resettlement. Let’s find out what the costs are. Let’s also look at why some of our refugees aren’t achieving the American dream.” The poll found that only 27 percent support a temporary stop to refugee resettlement. Respondents were split on whether the number of refugees being resettled in Minnesota should increase or stay about the same.  In September the Trump administration set the 2019 cap on refugee resettlement to its lowest level since the program began in 1980. (MPR News)

2. Gun debate still going strong as election approaches. Guns haven’t been as front-and-center as health care and the economy in the fall campaign, but that doesn’t mean the issue is off the radar. Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus political director Rob Doar’s ears perked up last weekend during an attorney general debate when moderator Tom Hauser of KSTP-TV asked Republican candidate Doug Wardlow if he would ever favor universal background checks for gun purchases. “Yes, yes I would,” replied Wardlow. “But the fact of the matter is that again is a legislative question.” The day after the debate, Doar said Wardlow spoke to his members at a private event and clarified his stance against more laws on law abiding citizens. After 17 students and staff were gunned down in February at a Florida high school, there were new calls for firearms restrictions, but in Minnesota, hearings, rallies and sit-ins didn’t produce any changes to gun laws. Supporters of new laws were incensed and vowed to use the legislative defeat to motivate voters. Erin Zamoff, the lead volunteer for Moms Demand Action Minnesota, was among those who went to work. “We are right now door-knocking for gun-sense candidates. We are canvassing for them. We are phone-banking. We are showing up at forums and supporting candidates who support common-sense gun safety reforms.” (MPR News)

3. Lewis and Craig face off in last debate. Republican Congressman Jason Lewis and his DFL challenger Angie Craig met for their final debate of the 2018 campaign Thursday at Dakota County Technical College. In the hour long forum the two candidates, in a rematch of the race two years ago, agreed the nation needs to embrace post-secondary technical training along with traditional four-year college as equal career options. That’s where their meeting of the minds ended. Lewis, who’s been focusing on economic issues throughout his first reflection campaign, repeatedly heralded the Republican tax law as the reason the economy is booming. “We’ve got the greatest economy since 1969, according to the unemployment statistics. We’ve got median after-tax income up 6 percent, wages going up, bonuses going up, utility bills coming down.” Craig took exception to the notion that the tax cut has been great for the country. She maintains the vast majority of the law’s benefits go to wealthy people and corporations, while the middle class is left with a growing national debt to repay. “Look, I support middle class tax reform and tax reform for small businesses, but the last time we tried trickle-down economics in this country was in 1980s, and I lived in a mobile home court with my mom and I can promise you that nothing trickled down to us.” (MPR News)

4. Judge to hear arguments on Stauber emails. A lawsuit to decide whether or not to open Pete Stauber campaign emails to the public will be heard at 10:30 a.m. Friday in District Court in Duluth. Judge Stoney Hiljus, of the 10th District Court in Kanabec County, will preside over arguments and deliver a decision on the transparency of 15 emails worth of correspondence between Stauber and the National Republican Congressional Committee. The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party sued St. Louis County earlier this week in an effort to be granted access to the emails. “Transparency and accountability are non-negotiable when it comes to restoring faith in our elected officials,” said DFL Chair Ken Martin in a news release. “If there’s nothing to hide, Pete should stop his obstruction and show us.”  The county, Stauber and the NRCC have refused to release the contents of the emails. The county argues the emails are private correspondence between a commissioner and an individual. But precedent in data practices has found that a person working for an organization was serving as an agent, and not an individual. The campaign of Stauber’s DFL opponent Joe Radinovich has made repeated calls for Stauber to release the emails. Calls for the emails have come, too, from two of Stauber’s fellow commissioners, Tom Rukavina and Frank Jewell, other lawmakers and, on Thursday, the Minnesota Society for Professional Journalists. (Duluth News Tribune) Stauber and Radinovich will be in the MPR News studios with me at 11 today. 

5. South Dakota might elect a Democrat governor for the first time in decades. With a cowboy’s appeal and a carefully tailored image as a moderate, Democrat Billie Sutton is waging a surprisingly successful campaign that’s put his party within striking distance of winning South Dakota’s governorship for the first time in more than four decades. Sutton, a state senator and former professional rodeo rider, on Thursday unveiled new GOP and independent endorsements. The move came just a day after an Argus Leader and KELO-TV poll showed Sutton running even with Republican Rep. Kristi Noem in a contest in which she had long been regarded as the favorite. “I think that’s why it’s so competitive, is because we are pulling a lot of Republicans, a lot of independents, and that’s what it’s going to take to win,” Sutton said after Thursday’s event. “We need people that are going to bring us together, not divide us.” (AP)

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