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The Capitol Note: Republicans head to Rochester to endorse governor, U.S. Senate candidates

1.) Both parties will hold their statewide conventions this weekend, but only one has decisions to make that could alter the top of the ticket, MPR reports. Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken will be in Duluth to receive their scheduled re-endorsements, but the picture is much less clear on the Republican side. Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and former House minority leader Marty Seifert have all pledged to abide by the party endorsement in the gubernatorial contest, while Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, and Scott Honour seem determined to press on for a primary.

Among U.S. Senate candidates, Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, looks like a favorite to gain the party nod, but she, Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, and St. Louis County Comissioner Chris Dahlberg all trail businessman Mike McFadden dramatically in the money measurement; McFadden has not said he would abide by the party endorsement, and has reportedly made few inroads with convention delegates.

2.) Gov. Mark Dayton has signed the much-debated medical marijuana law, the Star Tribune reports, bringing an official end to a debate that seemed dead during various points of the past legislative session. Dayton’s signature brings the scheduled enactment of a program that will purportedly serve some 5,000 Minnesotans starting in the summer of 2015, though some critics have doubted the program’s functionality. In a story published in the forthcoming Capitol Report, business owners and experts familiar with the medical marijuana industry raise questions about whether the Minnesota system is a viable one. Elan Nelson, who works at a Colorado dispensary, wondered aloud if Minnesota’s innovative model would attract the requisite entrepreneurs, saying the new law is “not really conducive to good business.”

3.) Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, made his run for Attorney General official yesterday morning, MinnPost reports, finally bringing a Republican into DFL incumbent Lori Swanson‘s re-election contest. The GOP has not held that office since the late 1960’s, and that longstanding trend has apparently deterred prominent conservative lawyers from even pursuing the seat; Newman’s entry came about 24 hours from the start of the Republican convention in Rochester, and his is expected to the only name pursuing the seat aside from perennial entrant Sharon Anderson. Newman has served in the Legislature for more than a decade, having won election to the House in a special election in 2003. He is expected to face a difficult challenge against Swanson, who won re-election by more than double digits in each of her first two campaigns.

COMINGS & GOINGS

Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-Hopkins, announced that his candidacy for Secretary of State has been endorsed by a trio of legislators, adding Sens. David Tomsasoni (Chisholm), Lyle Koenen (Cleabrook) and Bemidji-based Rep. John Persell to the list of legislators supporting him.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced the hiring of two new deputy commissioners on Thursday. Jeremy Hanson Willis will oversee workforce developement programs for the agency, and Blake Chaffee will serve as chief operating officer; Hanson Willis previously worked for the City of Minneapolis, and Chaffee was chief communications officer for DEED prior to his appointment.

The Minnesota State University Student Association has added a pair of lobbyists to its Capitol team. Goff Public lobbyist Johnathan Bohn returns to that service, having previously represented the school from mid-2011 to late 2013, and is joined by his firm colleague Chris Georgacas.

 


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