Minnesota politics week in review: Sept. 10-16


The Minnesota Independent covered a variety of issues this week, from in-depth looks at U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s inner circle to a state Senate special election primary in Minneapolis.

Pres. Barack Obama’s job plan went to Congress, where it’s expected to face opposition from Minnesota Republicans despite White House claims that the plan would create up to 100,000 jobs in the state.

In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, a PAC aligned with Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann put out another ad, this one painting Texas Gov. Rick Perry as soft on immigration. The radio uses the slogan “illegals take jobs.”

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty left the Republican presidential race with an impressive debt, this week’s endorsement of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will likely help ease the burden. (Comedian Stephen Colbert said Pawlenty’s endorsement was like Miracle Whip endorsing mayonnaise). As Romney’s spokesman said: ”If Tim Pawlenty wants our help, that’s something we’d help him with, just as we help all our friends.” Texas Gov. Rick Perry snagged a handful of Pawlenty supporters despite Pawlenty’s endorsement of Romney.

As his formal presidential rivals continue to trudge through the primary process, Pawlenty is planning a vacation; he’ll attend the annual National Review cruise as a guest speaker.

In the Republican tea party debate, Perry came under attack by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for his support of an HPV vaccine mandate. Bachmann later went even further, linking theHPV vaccine to “mental retardation,” which all experts say is false. Despite a storm of criticism, Bachmann has stood firm, saying she never misrepresented herself as a doctor or scientist. Bachmann’s argument against Perry and the drug company, Merck, is now being used in California to urge a veto of that state’s HPV vaccination mandate.

Bachmann spent the days after the debate wooing controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has kept prisoners in tent cities with extreme heat and provided inadequate food.

The Minnesota Independent’s Andy Birkey dug into the beliefs of Bachmann’s main supporters, finding fringe ideas like abolishing public education and even a terrorism charge for stockpiling guns in Uganda.

In Minnesota, the employment rate is stagnant, with 7.2 percent unemployment.

Minnesota for Marriage, a coalition of conservative Christian groups that are working to convince voters to back a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, has signed on the former communications director of the Minnesota Family Council in the run-up to the 2012 vote.

Lynne Torgerson launched her campaign against U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison on 9/11. She said Ellison is a “radical Islamist” who wanted to install Sharia law into the Constitution. Ellison said that this whole movement to ban Sharia law that no one is trying to install in the United States “is a very thin-disguised effort at religious persecution of people who are Muslim.”

Bradlee Dean, head of the You Can Run But You Cannot Hide ministry, was also back in the news with an open letter to Pres. Barack Obama.

A piece in the New York Times about conflict in the Anoka-Hennepin School District brought the issue of harassment of LGBT youth to the nation’s attention. The Minnesota Independent published a primer on the issue, giving a background to the reporting we’ve done on it for the last two years. Citing the school district, U.S. Sen. Al Franken called for an end to discrimination against LGBT students.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz joined the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which now includes 122 House members. Ellison and U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum also signed a letter with 72 other members of Congress urging the IRS to clarify tax rules for legally married same-sex couples—the rules are confusing and contradictory, they said. Members of Congress also announced the HIV/AIDS caucus, although no members of the Minnesota delegation are signed on.

In the special election primary for Senate District 61, state Rep. Jeff Hayden came out on top with DFLers, but Sadik Warfa made a strong showing, demonstrating the growing political clout of the state’s Somali-American population.

In Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, former congressman Rick Nolan picked up a slew of big-name Iron Range endorsements in his bid for the DFL nomination to take on U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack.