1.) Partial results from the St. Cloud State University Survey could serve as a warning for incumbent candidates on the 2014 election ballot. Findings from the survey released last week find DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken‘s approval rating well below 50 percent, with a combined 39 percent of respondents rating his performance as either “excellent” or “pretty good,” the St. Cloud Times reports. Gov. Mark Dayton‘s approval was slightly better, with 44 percent giving him positive marks on his first term in office, while 52 percent said Dayton’s performance was either “only fair” or “poor.” Dayton’s rating marks a drop from the survey’s findings from last year, when the governor enjoyed a combined 53 percent approval rating. Dayton and Franken’s relative unpopularity did not sink Democrats in the generic ballot, though: Another section of the survey which asked people to give a “temperature” reading between 0 and 100 found the DFL (47 out of 100) faring better than the GOP (40), Libertarian Party (37 percent) or Tea Party (31 percent).
2.) Yet another Democrat has joined the contest to replace Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul. Previously rumored candidate Greta Bergstrom, currently the communications director for liberal powerhouse TakeAction Minnesota, has confirmed that she will seek the seat, Minnesota Progressive Project reports. Bergstrom has held her current position for five years now, and prior to that had experience working in the corporate world, including at Best Buy. Her entry into the race brings the total candidate count to four, including former Paymar campaign manager Melanie McMahon and Matt Freeman, a staffer for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and son of the popular Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. Activist Gloria Zaiger has also entered the fray.
3.) Plenty of politicians on both sides have expressed at least tepid support for Gov. Mark Dayton‘s desired “unsession” next year, though few specifics have emerged for what might on the chopping block. One area of government that could be due for a serious trim are the many boards and commissions that have proliferated in recent decades, the Star Tribune reports. The state’s 160-plus panels take up $321 million out of every biennial budget, a figure that does not count legislative commissions. House Speaker Paul Thissen said many of the bureaucratic bodies seem to have outlived their purpose, highlighting a commission on nuclear waste that has not held a meeting in 27 years. Dayton, for his part, said he would be interested in clarifying the requirements for various board appointments to help fill open positions.
COMINGS & GOINGS
- Rep. Tim Faust, DFL-Hinckley, has a GOP challenger in Jason Rarick. Rarick, who is an electrical contractor, has a minimal footprint online. Faust won election to the seat with just over 50 percent of the district vote last year. He is one of the “Minnesota 15” whom gay marriage backers plan to support for reelection as after their votes in favor of that legislation.
- Political operative Matthew Pagano tweeted news that he will soon be rejoining the Republican Party of Minnesota as state political director for 2014. Pagano’s work history includes organizing for the Minnesota House GOP caucus, and on Kurt Bills‘ failed U.S. Senate campaign. Most recently, Pagano had relocated to Virginia, where he served as a field director in GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cucinelli‘s campaign.
- Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Thomas DiPasquale to be the new executive director of the Minnesota Racing Commission. Effective Dec. 5, DiPasquale will take the place of outgoing director Richard Krueger.
- Total Wine hired a group of lobbyists to represent its interests in the state. Lobbyist Larry Redmond of Redmond Associates signed up to work for the national chain of liquor stores, as did David Johnson and Margaret Vesel of Best & Flanagan; the Maryland-based company’s own Edward Cooper will serve as its chief advocate.
- Messerli & Kramer lobbyist Erin Campbell registered to work on behalf of the Minnesota Sheriffs Association. Earlier this year, that outfit took a modest stance on the issue of gun control, calling for improvements to a database that tracks felony convictions and mental illness records. Campbell is the organization’s second lobbyist on record.