Civic beat :: Governor picks

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May 10, 2010 // UPDATED 7:58 am - May 10, 2010
By: Cristof Traudes
Cristof Traudes
Emmer, Kelliher are parties’ picks for governor

The major parties’ delegates’ picks for governor are in.

On the left, it’s Margaret Anderson Kelliher. Despite buzz that she and R.T. Rybak were neck and neck going into the April 25 Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s endorsing battle, the veteran state official turned out to be too strong for Minneapolis’ mayor.

During all five balloting rounds, Kelliher was No. 1 while Rybak was a consistent No. 2. Rybak never pulled within 3 percent of Kelliher. While a sixth round of ballots was being counted — more than 12 hours after the day’s activity began — Rybak withdrew.

“The stakes right now are too great for us to delay and divide any longer,” he said.

Accepting the endorsement, Kelliher thanked Rybak for being a “class act.”

“It’s always hard to run against a good friend,” she said.

Up next for Kelliher? Another DFL battle.

Moving on to the primary, she’ll face two fellow party members who chose to forego the endorsement process, Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza. Both will bring significant name recognition to the table, Dayton as a former U.S. senator, Entenza as a former state representative and attorney general candidate.

On the right, Republicans on April 30 chose to endorse Tom Emmer, a six-year representative from Delano.

“Government has literally invaded every aspect of our life,” Emmer said in a fiery pre-balloting speech. “We will look forward, and we will set a course for where this state needs to be.”

He beat out fellow legislator Marty Seifert, who was expected to be a tough competitor to Emmer but found himself with a 10-point deficit after just one round of ballots. Emmer’s lead expanded in the second round, and Seifert withdrew from the race.

Both candidates alluded to a need to stand together as a party, especially as the DFL’s candidates enter their primary battle. Seifert gave a deliberate nod to Kelliher’s challengers.

“I want to thank Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza for running in an expensive and wasteful DFL primary,” he said. “Thank you, Mark and Matt.”

The Independence Party’s state convention was scheduled for May 8, after this edition of the Downtown Journal went to press.

The primary is Aug. 10, the election Nov. 2.

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Stadium bill here, maybe gone soon


A bill finally landed in the Legislature this month to finance a new home for the Minnesota Vikings.

After rumblings all legislative session that something was cooking, a plan appeared May 4 that would fund construction of a $791 million stadium. As proposed, the team would be responsible for $264 million while taxpayers would cover the remaining $527 million largely through taxes on sports memorabilia, lodging and car rentals.

The Vikings would be held to a 40-year lease as part of the deal. A stadium location isn’t specified.

Although the issue has gotten its share of media attention, the bill’s fate looks less like that of the one that got Target Field built and more like the many that failed over a decade of efforts by the Minnesota Twins.

While a Senate committee approved the plan 9-3 on May 5, things were murkier on the House of Representatives side. There, a committee shot down much of the public funding proposal and instead offered a Minneapolis Convention Center tax as the main source. That plan received a harsh response from Minneapolis officials.

Furthermore, in the middle of stadium discussions, the state Supreme Court released its unallotment decision. That put a possible multibillion-dollar budget deficit back atop the list of legislative priorities before the session ends May 17.

The Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome runs out next year.

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Supreme Court rules Pawlenty erred with cuts

Gov. Tim Pawlenty exceeded his authority by unilaterally cutting $2.7 billion from the state budget last year, the state Supreme Court ruled this month.

In the 4-3 decision, released May 5, Chief Justice Eric Magnuson said it’s the Legislature’s responsibility to create budgets and the governor’s to execute them. Although the unallotment tool Pawlenty used last year is meant to fill budget gaps, it should only come into play after unforeseen circumstances affect adopted budgets. Because Pawlenty’s own veto of the Legislature’s proposed budget created last year’s hole, unallotment did not legally apply, according to the decision.

The case involved only the unallotment of a relatively small diet program, but the ruling could void all of Pawlenty’s cuts. In a statement, the governor said he strongly disagreed with the court.

“Nonetheless,” he said, “it will require the Legislature and my administration to address its budget impacts. The funds do not exist to reinstate my unallotments, and the state budget needs to be balanced without raising taxes.”

The decision arrived less than two weeks before the scheduled end of the legislative session. By law, the budget has to be balanced.