Good morning, and welcome to the Monday before Thanksgiving. Here’s the Digest.
1. Could Minnesota go red in 2020? President Donald Trump is confident he can defy recent political history and turn Minnesota red in 2020. He said so in June, telling a Duluth rally that snagging the state he came within 44,765 votes of winning would be “really, really easy” next time. Trump’s campaign team considers Minnesota — which hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential nominee since Richard Nixon in 1972 — a 2020 battleground. Strategists in both parties say they might be right, and some early forecasts put the state in the tossup column. “There’s a misperception of Minnesota as relatively safe territory” for Democrats, said Carrie Lucking, manager of Tim Walz’s winning campaign for governor, one of a handful of big wins by Democrats in the recent midterm elections. “That is problematic from a resource perspective” because the state party will need help fending off a Trump offensive. (Star Tribune)
2. Change in Congressional delegation means new power dynamic. Incumbent U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson and Betty McCollum are poised to take leadership positions now that Democrats control the House. Peterson likely will become chair of the House Agriculture Committee, giving him sway over the expansive farm bill. McCollum, whose district covers St. Paul, could chair a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee that oversees spending by the Department of the Interior and funding for the U.S. Forest Service. Though now in the minority, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer also will raise his profile. He was named chairman of the House GOP’s campaign arm — the National Republican Congressional Committee — on Wednesday. But the delegation as a whole will lose significant clout and years of seniority in Washington. (Pioneer Press)
3. Disturbing news for deer hunters. Hunters in southeastern Minnesota have killed half a dozen chronic wasting disease infected deer this fall. Until this hunting season, there were only 17 confirmed cases of CWD in Minnesota’s wild deer herds. They were concentrated within a five-mile radius between Preston and Lanesboro. Early testing confirmed four more cases this hunting season. And in just the last few days, two more deer tested positive in a preliminary screening. Michelle Carstensen leads CWD management for the Minnesota DNR. She says, one of those animals was shot several miles outside the known infection area. “We have solid evidence that this disease is persisting,” she said. “And we appear to have some spread to the northwest. This disease is gaining traction.” (MPR News)
4. Business groups fret about 2-1 DFL margin at state Capitol. The political funds for major business groups devoted most of their money and muscle to maintaining the GOP’s two-year hold on the state House and Senate rather than lavishing it on Republican Jeff Johnson’s bid for governor. It was a calculation that even if Democrat Tim Walz were to win the governor’s office — which he did — that a Republican House and Senate could curb his power. But Democrats also seized the House majority. Republicans held onto a one-vote state Senate majority, leaving Walz on the verge of the support he needs for initiatives opposed by broad swaths of the business community. That includes his support for a statewide minimum wage of $15 an hour, strongly opposed by many business owners and leaders of major business groups. Walz has also proposed a gas tax increase for road repairs and spending hikes across a number of state programs, and voiced support for a single-payer health care system. It’s left business leaders reckoning with the near-certainty that Minnesota will remain one of the nation’s most highly taxed states. (Star Tribune)
5. A neat way to zoom in on the Minnesota election results. Wondering how many votes the various statewide and congressional candidates received in your neighborhood in the 2018 elections? We can help. Try this MPR News mapping tool that lets you search vote totals by precinct across Minnesota for this month’s statewide and congressional elections. (MPR News)