Good morning and welcome to a new week. This one kicks with a visit from the president, which you can read about in your Digest.
1. As Trump visits, Republicans have flipping Minnesota on their minds. President Donald Trump is bullish about his re-election chances in Minnesota despite the state’s long history of backing Democrats for president. With a visit to a Burnsville trucking company on Monday to talk taxes, Trump also lays down a marker for 2020 in a state whose 10 electoral votes he’s long seen as winnable. Winning Minnesota is “going to be really, really easy, I think,” the Republican said at a Duluth rally last year, after reminding supporters how close he came in 2016. Kevin Poindexter, executive director of the Minnesota Republican Party, said the national GOP under Trump will make Minnesota a priority in 2020. “This is going to be a targeted state like you’ve never seen before by Republicans,” he said. (Star Tribune)
2. Omar reports threats following Trump retweet. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday she has taken steps to ensure the safety of Rep. Ilhan Omar after President Donald Trump’s retweet of a video that purports to show the Minnesota Democrat being dismissive of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The California Democrat also called on Trump to take down the video. Soon after her public request, the video was no longer pinned atop Trump’s Twitter feed, but it was not deleted. Pelosi was among Democrats who had criticized Trump over the tweet, with some accusing him of trying to incite violence against the Muslim lawmaker. An upstate New York man recently was charged with making death threats against her. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended Trump earlier Sunday, saying the president has a duty to highlight Omar’s history of making comments that others deem anti-Semitic or otherwise offensive and that he wished no “ill will” upon the first-term lawmaker. (Associated Press)
3. Checking in with Minnesota’s congressional newcomers. As the new members of Congress from Minnesota passed 100 days in office last week, Democrats were already looking forward to next year’s election while Republicans expressed frustration with ongoing Washington gridlock. U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, the Democrat who represents the Minnesota’s 2nd District south of the Twin Cities, said Democrats’ efforts on gun control and campaign and election reform have merit even if they aren’t going to pass in the Republican-controlled Senate. “We’re showing our constituents what we’re fighting for and I think that’s what we need to continue to do,” Craig said, adding that she’s trying to work with Republicans. Rep. Peter Stauber, a Republican representing Minnesota’s 8th District, agreed with Craig that many members want to work across party lines. “We have more in common on both sides of the aisle than the public or the media will share, because I’ve had private conversations with my Democratic colleagues and we are on the same page on so much but that doesn’t see the light of day,” Stauber said. (MPR News)
4. Dakota County as a microcosm of Midwestern political shifts. When Jennifer Anderson was asked what she dislikes about politics, her son Zach, 11, chimed in with a broader list of her pet peeves: “Dirty laundry on the floor, Trump and rude behavior.” Anderson explained that she usually votes for Democrats and wants “anyone other than” Donald Trump to win the 2020 presidential election. But like many political moderates in suburban Dakota County, the 46-year-old Apple Valley mom isn’t comfortable with some of the ideas she’s hearing from Democratic candidates. “It shouldn’t be either extreme left or extreme right,” Anderson said as her sons Gabe, 7, and Zach played at Good Times Park, a giant indoor playground in Eagan. “Everyone I know is pretty much in the middle.” The Midwest is expected to be a crucial battleground in the 2020 campaign, and what happens in Dakota County and other swing congressional districts will help shape the outcome in Minnesota and across the country. Democrats, who rolled up big numbers in the suburbs in the 2018 congressional elections, are fighting to expand those gains. Trump’s strategy to win re-election includes carrying Minnesota, which he lost narrowly in 2016, and other big states in the Midwest. That may depend on how many voters in places like Dakota County feel like Anderson does, and whether the Democratic primaries produce an appealing alternative. (Star Tribune)
5. Where does my phone go now? Minnesota joined 17 states and the District of Columbia on Friday in requiring drivers have their cellphones in hands-free mode while their vehicle is moving. Gov. Tim Walz signed the bill in a ceremony on Friday surrounded by family members who lost loved ones to distracted drivers and have been pushing for nearly two decades to change the law. But there’s still work ahead: the Department of Public Safety, law enforcement and the families are launching a public education campaign to make sure Minnesotans have heard about the new law before it goes into effect in August. Here’s a primer on what you can — and more importantly, can’t — do under the new law. (MPR News)