1.) Three gubernatorial candidates have chosen to volunteer their 2013 fundraising totals to this point, and few will be surprised at the name currently leading the field. Businessman Scott Honour announced on Monday that he had raised $500,000 during that year, giving him an enormous advantage over Hennepin County Commission member Jeff Johnson, who raised $240,000, and Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, who reported $120,000. Both of those candidates have been approaching the race by trying to nail down the party’s activist base, and have pledged to seek and abide by the endorsement decision. In announcing his fundraising haul, Honour pointed out that he had collected that total despite his status as a “political outsider,” and made the case that the party’s best chance was to choose a “financially competitive” candidate. Still yet to declare their totals, at least among the top-tier candidates, are Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, and Marty Seifert and, of course, Gov. Mark Dayton himself.
2.) House members faced a pre-filing deadline for bills on Monday, and have dutifully flooded the Revisor’s Office with 278 bill proposals. Among them, the Associated Press reports, are a predictably high number of bills to cut taxes that DFL majorities approved last year, which have since proved unpopular with both parties. Also up for debate are bills that would make changes to MNsure, the state-run health insurance exchange; one of those would force new premium rates to be released no later than Sept. 1 of this year, well in advance of the subsequent open enrollment period. At least one bill author thought her idea was good enough to start lobbying for it immediately: Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, announced that she would introduce a bill to end the statewide prohibition of Sunday alcohol sales. Minnesota is one of only a few states to still have such a ban in place, and Loon’s proposal would hand the decision on Sunday sales to local governments instead. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has said he also supports ending the Sunday ban.
3.) GOP Secretary of State candidate Dennis Nguyen was endorsed by 40 House Republicans, meaning the investment executive and first-time candidate has secured the support of a majority of current Republican legislators. Nguyen’s announcement follows a similarly impressive collection amassed in December, when he released the names of 23 Senate Republicans who were backing his candidacy. Nguyen is the only Republican who has officially declared in that race, and has pledged to run a centrist campaign that focuses on business services rather than divisive elections issues. That approach seems to have appealed to Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazzeppa, who said he opted to back Nguyen because the political newcomer could win over “conservatives, libertarians, and moderates.” Notable absent from Nguyen’s House endorsements are House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt and former GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove.
COMINGS & GOINGS
Hennepin County Commission member Gail Dorfman plans to step down from that post to take a new job as head of St. Stephen’s Human Services, the Star Tribune reports. Dorfman, a 14-year veteran of the county board, is set to join the Minneapolis-based homeless health organization in early March; her resignation would trigger a special election to select her replacement.
Senate Minority Leader David Hann will use a 10:00 a.m. Capitol press conference to discuss the proposed new Senate office building, which has been the subject of criticism from some figures on both sides of the aisle, as well as a lawsuit brought by former Rep. Jim Knoblach.
Former Republican Rep. King Banaian will not run again for the St. Cloud-area seat he lost in 2012, but incumbent DFL Rep. Zachary Dorholt, DFL-St. Cloud, has still picked up a Republican challenger in that district. Paul Brandmire, a trucker driver who has never held elective office, told the St. Cloud Times that he would mount a bid in House District 14B; Brandmire said he had been active in Republican conventions and meetings in the past, and is a member of the Central Minnesota Tea Party.
Former DFL senator Jerald Anderson has died at age 79, the Pioneer Press reports. Anderson, a native of North Branch, represented pieces of four different counties during his decade in the Senate. Among his accomplishments in office were chief authoring a bill that led to the creation of the St. Croix Wild River State Park.