1.) On Tuesday the Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit that had threatened the opening date of the Minnesota Vikings stadium, ruling that the court was the improper venue for the legal challenge brought by former Minneapolis mayoral candidate Doug Mann. The finding clears the path for the state to sell bonds that will help finance the stadium construction, a transaction that, according to Minnesota Sports Facilities chair Michele Kelm-Helgen, needed to take place by Jan. 23. In a statement that followed the ruling, Gov. Mark Dayton thanked the court for reaching a quick resolution to Mann’s lawsuit. “Today’s decision clears the way for thousands of Minnesotans to get to work on these two important projects,” Dayton said, referring to stadium construction and a $400 million private development that’s planned nearby.
2.) House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt was temporarily faced with a local crisis yesterday, as Senate District 31 Republicans announced they were planning a vote of “no confidence” at their meeting last night, the Star Tribune reports. SD 31 GOP chair Dan Denno explained that committee members thought Daudt had failed to honor his commitment as a fiscal conservative, and had also not met with the group to explain his role in a bizarre incident involving criminal charges against a friend of Daudt’s who pointed a gun at a Montana family during an altercation last fall. “We know mistakes are going to happen… but it’s how you deal with it [that matters],” said Jack Rogers, a committee member and Tea Party activist. Later Tuesday, the group canceled its planned vote after Daudt turned up at the meeting to tell his side of the story.
3.) Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, held a Capitol press conference Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to keep the heat on Gov. Mark Dayton over the findings of last week’s Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) report. Osmek went public with a letter he has written to Dayton, whom he compared, unfavorably, to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Unlike Christie, who expressed embarrassment and contrition for his own recent scandals, Dayton has failed to be “transparent and accountable” when it comes to his own mistakes, Osmek wrote. The OLA report found that Dayton had inappropriately used a state airplane for campaign purposes and, in another finding, revealed that Dayton’s administration had paid attorney David Lillehaug $77,000 for his legal services during the government shutdown in 2011, when the governor had initially said Lillehaug would work pro bono. In his letter, Osmek said the OLA investigation “calls into question” Dayton’s recent appointment of Lillehaug to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
COMINGS & GOINGS
- Another Republican candidate has registered in the district represented by Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, though it’s not clear if she means to run against the incumbent or in his stead. Abigail Whelan registered her House District 35B candidacy with the state earlier this week, and joins Jason Tossey in the GOP field in that district. Whelan is a University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs student, and has previously worked for Sen. John Pederson, R-St. Cloud. Last summer, Tossey told Politics in Minnesota he ran only after a conversation with Abeler, who is now pursuing the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate; Abeler has not ruled out returning to the state House if he is unsuccessful in that quest.
- A team of four lobbyists at Almeida Public Affairs, including principal Cristine Almeida, has registered to lobby on behalf of the Can Manufacturers Institute. They are the first four advocates in this state for that organization, which is based in Washington, D.C.
- Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, has a new DFL opponent in House District 15B. Laurie Driessen, a member of the Canby School Board, signed up to run in that district earlier this week. Erickson, an eight-term (nonconsecutive) House member, won her 2012 election with about 52 percent of the district vote.
- Young Progressive Majority Minnesota endorsed Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-Hopkins, in the Secretary of State’s race on Tuesday, stating that Simon had the right mix of experience and leadership as chair of the House Elections Committee. The youth-minded PAC joins dozens of House DFL caucus members and former Secretary of State Joan Growe in endorsing Simon, who is running against Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center. Simon’s campaign also announced by email this morning that it had raised $137,000 in 2013 — a record for off-year secretary of state races, the release noted. Simon had $110,000 in cash on hand at the end of the year.