Daily Digest: Wheels spinning for 2020

Good morning. Welcome to a new week and your Monday Digest.

1. Already gearing up for 2020. Hours after U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen lost his re-election bid last November, Republicans in the Third Congressional District started dissecting “what the heck happened,” said Patti Meier, the district’s GOP chairwoman.In early December her executive team met to discuss fallout from Democrat Dean Phillips’ win. They formed a steering committee to map out plans for the next election. Two more meetings followed. On Jan. 21, the full Third District committee will gather to talk strategy. “It’s not too early,” said Meier, who lives in Plymouth. “We took a licking, so we’ve already picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off and gotten to work.” There is no offseason in politics. Across Minnesota, activists in both parties are doing postmortems on 2018, preparing for municipal and school board elections this year and gearing up for 2020, when voters will choose a president, the U.S. House delegation, a U.S. senator and the Legislature. (Star Tribune)

2. Two take leadership reins. When Democrats took control of the U.S. House from Republicans it put two Minnesotans who have been in Congress a long time in more powerful positions. U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson, a 28-year veteran of Congress from western Minnesota, and Betty McCollum, an 18-year veteran who represents St. Paul and its suburbs, will have a big say in major pieces of legislation that emerge from the House. (MPR News)

3. Shutdown affecting ag planning. Farmers and agriculture analysts will be without some key farm data this week, thanks to the federal government’s partial shutdown. The much-anticipated World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report was scheduled to be released Friday, but is now delayed until the government resumes its normal operations. The report helps market traders anticipate future crop prices and helps farmers plan for the coming year. Its absence, said Robert Craven, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Farm Financial Management, will only add more uncertainty to a market coming off a tough 2018. (MPR News)

4. Capitol comes to life when Legislature is in session. A quiet morning at the state Capitol was interrupted this past week by a familiar echo that rang louder by the minute. Hurried footsteps and murmured exchanges quickly reached a crescendo as activists filed in by the hundreds. They waived signs and shouted their cause to lawmakers who entered the House and Senate chambers. This sequence — now that the Minnesota Legislature is back in town — will likely unfold again and again as the 2019 session rolls on. “There’s two … life cycles of this building: in session and out of session,” said Brian Pease, the Capitol site manager for the Minnesota Historical Society. “It’s kind of this laboratory of experience where you really get a sense of how this building functions.” (Pioneer Press)

5.  Not out of the picture. You don’t often hear the phrase “influential minority leader,” but it’s an apt description of state Sen. Tom Bakk, a Cook Democrat. If Democrats win an early February special election to replace Tony Lourey — who was picked by Gov. Tim Walz to be commissioner of the Department of Human Services — they’ll again be just one vote shy of majority. Holding together a one-vote majority will be difficult for state Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, the GOP majority leader. In 2017, for instance, when Sen. Carla Nelson had to leave the Capitol to be with her gravely ill father, Gazelka had no choice but to deal with Bakk. (Star Tribune)

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