March 2008

The Eighth District’s Mystery Candidate

Monday, March 31st, 2008

What if a political party held a convention and its designated congressional candidate passed on making his candidacy public?

It happened last Saturday in the Eighth Congressional District, where party bigwigs were prepared to bestow their endosement on a candidate to take on Rep. Jim Oberstar but held off “because he chose not to announce,” said Justin Krych, assistant district party chair. “He just wasn’t ready to pull the trigger.”

In a week or two, the presumptive candidate plans on a public announcement, after which the party’s endorsement will follow, Krych said.

Krych declined to identify the candidate, saying only that he approached party officials, indicating a willingness to run. “He’s an outstanding candidate, one who’s had a successful business life,” Krych said.

He added that it is not former Sen. Rod Grams, who was thumped by Oberstar nearly two-to-on in 2006. “He’s not expressed any interest this time,” Krych said.

For their part, Oberstar’s staffers said they’re in the dark about who their boss will face in his 18th run for what is possibly the most Democratic seat in Minneosta. “We haven’t heard anything either so we’re just taking care of our own business,” said campaign manager Blake Chaffee.

Anyone out there heard who it might be?

Minnesota power in Congress: Below average

Friday, March 14th, 2008

A report from Washington correspondent Conrad Wilson:

WASHINGTON – It turns out that Minnesota doesn’t have much clout in Congress. A recent study of congressional power rankings shows Minnesota in the bottom half, ranked 38th out of 50.

The rankings were compiled by the legislative communications firm, Knowlegis. They based their results on seniority, influence, the passage of legislation, and earmarks.

GOP Reps. John Kline and Michele Bachmann have both pledged not to secure earmarks for their home districts, which certainly must have influenced their rankings.

One major flaw of the study is that it doesn’t take into effect regional preferences. Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat, is a senior member of Congress and chairs of the House Agriculture Committee. He is currently in the process of re-writing farm policy for the entire country. So why is he ranked below a freshman from Minneapolis?

It is interesting – to say the least – that he’s not higher than fllow Democrats Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum.

Knowlegis acknowledged that this was an oversight on their part and that Peterson’s rankings would rise in 2009. They also rationalized Peterson’s ranking by saying that Ellison’s seat on the Judiciary and Financial Services Committees is more significant in Washington than any ranking on House Ag Committee.

Um … okay?

Here’s how Minnesota members were ranked in their respective chambers:

Senate

82 Norm Coleman
94 Amy Klobuchar

House:

28 Jim Oberstar (8th district)
117 Betty McCollum (4th)
138 Keith Ellison (5th)
177 Collin Peterson (7th)
203 Jim Ramstad (3rd)
308 Tim Walz (1st)
363 Michele Bachmann (6th)
396 John Kline (2nd)

The Power Rankings also included information about this year’s presidential hopefuls.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was the highest ranking Presidential candidate in the Senate at 9th, followed by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) ranked 10th, and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) at 11th.

The bottom of the list was Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) and Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), both involved in widely publicized scandals during 2007.

-Conrad Wilson

Pawlenty’s energetic efforts continue

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

A report from correspondent Conrad Wilson in Washington, D.C.:

In his latest foray on the national stage, Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced the results of a major Minnesota fuel study Wednesday morning at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference.

The performance of vehicles using E20 — fuel that is 20 percent ethanol — is comparable to that of vehicles using the current standard blend of E10, Pawlenty told a room of Washington and international bureaucrats, policy makers and energy experts.

Minnesota law requires the state to begin using E20 fuel by 2013, but the federal Environmental Protection Agency must first permit its use. The new study is intended to help secure that approval.

“States have taken a leading role in developing a clean energy future,” Pawlenty said. “For me this is a national security issue.”

The governor also spoke about the correlation between energy and national security, equated the current renewable energy boom to the technology boom of the 1990s, and stressed the overall need for more energy conservation.

Pawlenty shared the stage with Sweden’s deputy prime minister for energy as well as members from the U.S. State Department and the Department of Energy.

Pawlenty was introduced by Alexander Karsner, assistant secretary for renewable energy at the Department of Energy, who referred to him as a personal friend and a “star” in the Republican party.

Karsner also made reference to Pawlenty as a possible running mate for Sen. John McCain, and jokingly introduced him as “Vice President, I mean, Governor Tim Pawlenty.”

This is the governor’s second trip to Washington in two weeks to discuss energy and climate change related topics. He was here last week chairing the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

Conrad Wilson


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