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J. Patrick Coolican

Reporter | Politics and state government
Phone: 651-925-5042
Location: St. Paul Capitol bureau
Other languages: None

J. Patrick Coolican is a Star Tribune political reporter who began his career by starting a website and following the 2000 presidential campaign. He's been a journalist in seven different states, and in 2013-14 was a Knight Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan.


Coolican is married to Star Tribune visual journalist Leila Navidi, and they have a son named Liam. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where he studied philosophy and literature. He has been to nearly 50 Phish concerts, and welcomes your critical disapproval.
Recent content from J. Patrick Coolican
DFL gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz was congratulated by supporters as he was led through the kitchen to give a victory speech after his win. ] ANTHO

Walz is 'done with the drama,' brings his vast agenda to Capitol

Gov.-elect Tim Walz's success hinges on whether the vigorous approach and penchant for pragmatism he brought to the campaign trail can win over the Republican lawmakers whose votes he needs.
Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan, Gov.-elect Tim Walz, and his wife, Gwen, arrived at the State Capitol Thursday morning.

Gov.-elect Tim Walz promises everyone a 'seat at the table'

The Walzs, who have a 17-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, said they are considering moving into the governor's residence in St. Paul but are unsure of the timing.
DFL State Party Chairperson Ken Martin addressed DFL supporters.

DFL Party's longest-serving chairman looks to extend his tenure

Ken Martin has been the chairman since 2011.
Governor-elect Tim Walz embraced running mate, Lt. Governor-elect Peggy Flanagan, as they took the stage for their acceptance speech Tuesday night at

Walz wins Minnesota governor's race, extending DFL control

The victory gives Democrats four more years in the governor's office following two terms by Gov. Mark Dayton.
Her support for Trump motivated Jolynn Good to engage in politics. She volunteers for the GOP, sometimes with daughter Emmalynn, 2.

For GOP, midterm success means reactivating 2016 voters

Midterm victories could turn on reactivating passions that drove president's win in 2016.
Voter turnout on Tuesday will determine key races in the Twin Cities suburbs and how far to the right rural districts will swing.

Minnesota voters will send a message Tuesday, but what?

Turnout will be the key factor in so many ways on Election Day.
DFLer Tim Walz, left, and Republican Jeff Johnson are competing in Minnesota's governor's race.

Differences dominate final debate between Jeff Johnson, Tim Walz

In days, Minnesotans will choose one of the two to replace DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, who is retiring after two terms.
PolyMet Mining Corp. proposes to use the old LTV taconite facility to process copper-nickel ore.

PolyMet copper-nickel mine gets green light from DNR

A long, contentious regulatory review ends with permits for the huge copper-nickel mine.
Candidates for Minnesota governor Tim Walz, left, and Jeff Johnson

Where Tim Walz and Jeff Johnson stand on abortion, guns and immigration

Issues like taxes, health care, education and roads are at the top of the to-do list for Minnesota’s next governor. But whoever wins the race…
GOP candidate for CD8 in the U.S. House, Pete Stauber spoke in Duluth in June 2018.

County e-mails from Stauber show political maneuvering

Pete Stauber once used his St. Louis County e-mail to seek damaging information about Rep. Rick Nolan's voting history and forwarded damaging information about another potential opponent to a GOP operative in Washington, according to e-mails released by the county.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz (left) and GOP candidate Jeff Johnson

Walz has big cash advantage over Johnson in closing days

Campaign 2018: Business groups focus resources on retaining GOP control of Legislature.
Minnesota gubernatorial candidates Jeff Johnson and Tim Walz debated in Willmar in October.

Expensive TV time a challenge for candidates

Blame the outside money flowing in for the four competitive House districts, all of which require TV ads in the expensive metro Twin Cities market.
Gabby Giffords, the former congresswoman who survived a shooting in 2011, and her husband Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut, spoke during a round table

Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly stump for gun control, Democrats in Minneapolis

Democratic politicians got some help in the closing days of the campaign from national gun control advocates.
Republican candidate for CD8 U.S. House of Representatives Pete Stauber spoke in Duluth in June. ] GLEN STUBBE • glen.stubbe@startribune.com

Minnesota Democrats sue St. Louis County to get Pete Stauber e-mails

GOP candidate is in a tight U.S. House race with Joe Radinovich.
Tim Walz, the Democratic candidate for governor of Minnesota, at a debate in Willmar in October.

Tim Walz reaffirms support for $15-an-hour minimum wage for Minnesota

DFL candidate for governor supports minimum wage increases by cities, while GOP opponent Jeff Johnson calls local wage floors a burden on business.
Republican Jeff Johnson, left, and DFLer Tim Walz faced off earlier this month in a “Greater Minnesota Debate” in Willmar, Minn.

Jeff Johnson, Tim Walz both back northern Minn. pipeline project

Both major-party gubernatorial hopefuls say they support Enbridge, but politics could prove dicey.
House Speaker Paul Ryan met with Erik Paulsen at his office in Plymouth.

National political stars descend on closely fought Minnesota

Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio among GOP stars visiting to boost House candidates.
Minnesota gubernatorial candidates Jeff Johnson and Tim Walz debated in Willmar in October.

Walz, Johnson tax returns show similar financial shape

Although the Johnson and Walz households both earn incomes higher than average, the two families are mostly wage earners, and neither uses unusual maneuvers to avoid paying taxes.
Attorney general candidates: Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (left) and Republican Doug Wardlow

Candidates for Minn. attorney general clash over role of job

Democrat Keith Ellison, Republican Doug Wardlow unleash vitriol as other candidates debate health care, taxes.
Candidates for Minnesota governor Tim Walz, left, and Jeff Johnson have sketched out starkly different visions for the future of state government.

Governor's race poll: Walz holds narrow lead over Johnson

With just over two weeks until Election Day, governor's race has tightened, with sharp divides across gender and age.
Republican Pete Stauber leads over Joe Radinovich, right, in what’s been a reliably Democratic congressional district for decades.

Recent poll, fund-raising retreat show shift in 8th District race

Recent public polling by NBC News and the Star Tribune/MPR News suggests Democrats are going into the stretch run of the election season in relatively…
Republican candidate U.S. House Pete Stauber spoke in Duluth in June.

St. Louis County won't release Pete Stauber emails despite recommendation by state

Against a state agency’s recommendation, St. Louis County again refused on Wednesday to release e-mails sought by the Star Tribune between Pete Stauber, a St.…
Minnesota gubernatorial candidates Republican Jeff Johnson, left, shook hands with with DFLer Tim Walz after the "Greater Minnesota Debate" in Willmar

Jeff Johnson, Tim Walz focus on greater Minnesota in debate

The candidates for Minnesota governor sparred over taxes, ag and health care as each tried to prove he would be a champion of areas felt ignored.
Republican candidate for U.S. House Pete Stauber spoke in Duluth in June.

Advisory opinion: St. Louis County should hand over Pete Stauber emails

The county had confirmed the existence of the e-mails, sent to and from Stauber's county e-mail address, but declined to provide the e-mails.
Tim Walz was narrowly re-elected to his First Congressional District seat in 2016 even as President Trump won the district by more than 15 points.

Tim Walz's campaign for Minn. governor aims to bridge divide

Democrat Tim Walz says his experience crossing cultural and political fault lines positions him to rise above the partisanship that has stunted progress at the State Capitol.
If U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar scores a big victory in November, the speculation about her future will begin immediately.

Meeting with local CEOs shows why Sen. Amy Klobuchar is on a roll

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar had lunch with about 30 CEOs of the largest Minnesota companies last week. According to an executive who was there but…
GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen listens to DFL candidate Dean Phillips at their debate at the UBS Forum at Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul on Friday, Oct. 5,

TV ads draw fire in hard-fought Twin Cities congressional races

Accuracy of allegations called into question.
GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen listens to DFL candidate Dean Phillips at their debate at the UBS Forum at Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul on Friday, Oct. 5,

Lawyer in Allina sexual harassment case blasts Erik Paulsen campaign ad

The new TV ad from GOP's Paulsen hits DFL challenger Dean Phillips over harassment lawsuit, but lawyer for claimants says Phillips had 'no involvement.'
Gov. Mark Dayton.

Gov. Mark Dayton to undergo third back surgery

Dayton heading to Mayo Clinic for another spinal procedure, similar to two previous surgeries meant to decrease leg pain and improve balance.
Republican Jeff Johnson, left, and DFLer Tim Walz faced off Tuesday night in a “Greater Minnesota Debate” in Willmar, Minn.

Health care becomes flashpoint in Minnesota governor's race

With Affordable Care Act still jarring U.S. politics, access to health care and how to pay for it a major issue dividing Tim Walz, Jeff Johnson.
Democrats’ pushback on confirming Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has energized Republicans.

GOP likes its chances after Brett Kavanaugh fight

Democratic pushback on Kavanaugh seems to have revved up GOP enthusiasm, which had been flagging.
People in Minnesota are focused on what candidates are saying about health care, according to a check of Google Trends.

Minnesota voters training their focus on health care

It's not even close, according to Google Trends.
Tim Walz, right, and Jeff Johnson debated at the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 19.

Johnson, Walz each have $1M for stretch run in governor race

Jeff Johnson, the surprise winner of the Republican primary against former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, has seen a surge in fundraising since late July.
As a candidate for governor, Jeff Johnson is promising to slash taxes and spending.

Jeff Johnson promises tax cuts, but that means spending cuts, too

The Republican candidate for Minnesota governor wants broad relief, but schools, social programs would likely take hit.
President Donald Trump’s approval rating dropped to 39 percent in the most recent Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota Poll.

Tough news for GOP in Minnesota Poll

Because politics has become so nationalized, an unpopular president portends bad things for his party.
Minnesota Rep. Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, is pictured on the House floor in a January 2017 file photo.

State Rep. Jim Knoblach ends re-election bid after allegations by daughter

In a statement, the St. Cloud Republican denied the allegations but said he needs to work toward healing his family.
Candidates for governor Jeff Johnson and Tim Walz shook hands at the start of their debate at the Twin West Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Septembe

Johnson, Walz debate how to fix state's shortage of workers

DFL, GOP candidates for governor agree on need to address workforce shortage, highlight differences at forum.
Sen. Scott Newman in 2012.

Minn. senator sparks online outrage with tweet about Kavanaugh accusations

Sen. Scott Newman, Republican from Hutchinson, writes off sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee.
Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Bu

Minnesota Poll: Evenly split on Kavanaugh before accusation

Minnesotans are evenly split on the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh in a new Star Tribune-MPR News Minnesota Poll taken before an allegation of sexual assault against him surfaced.
Candidates for Minnesota governor Tim Walz, left, and Jeff Johnson have sketched out starkly different visions for the future of state government.

Minnesota Poll: Tim Walz leads Jeff Johnson

DFLer Tim Walz holds a 9-point advantage over Republican Jeff Johnson in the race for governor with less than two months to the election. The poll finds about one in six voters still undecided in the race.
The state’s carpenter’s union, and other unions, are doling out endorsements in 2018 to a range of political candidates.

Some Minnesota labor groups see upside in backing Republicans

  Recent union endorsements provide clues about the direction of both organized labor and the two parties. The carpenters and their 11,000 Minnesota members endorsed…
More Minnesotans may be reaching for the mute button as election season enters its full stride, bombarding everyone with ads.

Swarm of political ads arrives in Minn., reflecting state's battleground status

Minnesota's airwaves will be increasingly filled with political appeals and attacks.
Gubernatorial candidates Jeff Johnson, left, and Tim Walz seen at the Minnesota State Fair.

Ad campaign thrusts health care into governor's race

The GOP gubernatorial candidate fired back, calling the ads "blatant lies."
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and state Sen. Karin Housley will square off in Minnesota’s first all-female U.S. Senate contest

Will D.C. Republicans come to Karin Housley's aid?

Housley remains unknown to many Minnesotans and will have to distinguish herself from generic Republicans.
FILE - In this June 20, 2018 file photo, Pete Stauber, a Republican congressional candidate running in a traditionally Democratic district, speaks dur

Records show Pete Stauber communicated with key GOP group on county e-mail

The Stauber campaign declined to make him available or provide access to the e-mails, which appear to violate a St. Louis County policy.
DFL candidate for governor Tim Walz talked with potential voters at the Minnesota State Fair about his ambitious agenda.

On the campaign trail, Walz makes big but expensive promises

Tim Walz backs tuition-free college plan, public health insurance and rural broadband access. Can he deliver?
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who talked with State Fair visitors, has flatly denied charges of domestic abuse raised by an ex-girlfriend.

Can Republicans make U.S. Rep Keith Ellison an albatross?

Republicans hope that domestic abuse allegations against U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who is running for Minnesota attorney general, will bring down the rest of his…
Being up for anything at the Minnesota State Fair is pretty much job No. 1 in running for governor. Tim Walz, left, and Jeff Johnson are game.

Campaign for governor turns folksy and fun at the State Fair

Whole-hog participation is unwritten prerequisite for statewide elected office.
State Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake

Minnesota state Sen. Michelle Benson's husband files for bankruptcy

Family business had been source of pride for GOP's Benson; now it may force her to step back.
It’s hard to say whether voters will express displeasure with Donald Trump by voting against Republican candidates.

Will Trump's troubles matter in Minnesota legislative races?

But if 2016 is a guide, running against Trump also has risks.
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and state Sen. Karin Housley are battling for a Senate seat in November.

Mollie Tibbetts murder case in Iowa gets pulled into Minn. Senate race

Dueling statements from Karin Housley and Tina Smith highlight the power of immigration as a campaign issue this year.
Candidates for governor Tim Walz, left, and Jeff Johnson had their first debate at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa early Friday.

In Minnesota governor's race, a regional reversal

Historic voting dynamic is upended with an outstate DFLer, metro Republican.
DFL candidate for governor Tim Walz held a news conference with his running mate Peggy Flanagan in the State Office Building on Wednesday.

Clashing views taking center stage in Minn. governor's race

Tim Walz and Jeff Johnson offered very different visions for leading the state a day after their primary victories.
DFLer Tim Walz and Republican Jeff Johnson won their respective Minnesota gubernatorial primary races.

Tim Walz, Jeff Johnson to face off in Minnesota governor race

Jeff Johnson shocked the Minnesota political world when he built an insurmountable lead over former Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Meanwhile, Tim Walz defeated Erin Murphy and Lori Swanson on the DFL side.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison

U.S. Rep. Ellison denies allegation of domestic violence

The alleged incident between Keith Ellison and Karen Monahan came to light Saturday night after her son posted about it on Facebook. Ellison responded Sunday in a statement.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson at the DFL gubernatorial debate held at Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul on Friday.

Another ex-staffer for Lori Swanson says she did political work

The DFL gubernatorial candidate's campaign says the accusers are politically motivated.
With the primary just days away, the DFL race for governor is asking the question, can you win with name ID and TV ads?

DFL governor's race a test of campaign strategies

And we'll have some answers soon.
Lori Swanson was surrounded by reporters at the conclusion of a DFL gubernatorial debate held at Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul on Friday.

Swanson hits back at ex-aide who says she politicized office

In a remarkable sequence of events days before the DFL primary for governor, Swanson released the criminal record of a critical former aide via emails from the attorney general's office. And the ex-staffer sought a restraining order against her.
DFL candidates for governor Erin Murphy, Tim Walz and Lori Swanson debated Friday at MPR studios in St. Paul.

DFL candidates debate for the last time before primary day

They spar over immigration, gun laws, negative ad.
DFL and GOP candidates shook hands at the end of the forum. All five leading candidates for governor - Republicans Tim Pawlenty and Jeff Johnson, and

Candidates for Minn. governor court rural votes at Farmfest

The forum was the only joint appearance for the five major hopefuls ahead of next week's primary election.
Students from around the Twin Cities Metro area rallied at the State Capitol to protest against gun violence in St. Paul in April.

Where candidates for Minnesota governor stand on guns

While Republicans and DFLers clearly disagree on guns, candidates in the same party don't see eye to eye either.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, left, and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson are battling for the Republican nomination for Minnesota governor.

In governor's race, GOP is pursuing a chance at full control

If Republicans hold the current legislative majorities, a conservative chief executive with an allied House and Senate could finally act on long-standing GOP vows to lower taxes and shrink government.
Seeking the DFL nomination for Minnesota governor, from left, are U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, Attorney General Lori Swanson and state Rep. Erin Murphy.

In governor's race, DFL Party is looking for the face of the future

The consequences for whoever wins Aug. 14 are huge: Whether Minnesota stays on a path set by eight years of a Democratic governor or joins neighboring states in choosing Republican rule.
Primary voters are hard to read ahead off Election Day on Aug. 14.

Primaries for Minnesota governor looking wide open

It's pointless to prognosticate because all scenarios seem possible.
Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty elbowed for advantage during Friday’s debate.

Pawlenty, Johnson get personal in combative radio debate

GOP's Johnson, Pawlenty argued over credibility as true conservatives.
Minnesota Republicans are bringing big data to voters this year. They hope to bring some voters to the polls and flip others.

Republicans' data machine sets up big changes

Now they have a good idea of how every voter is likely to behave — whether they are going to vote and for whom.
Gubernatorial candidate Erin Murphy speaks to the convention after she secured the party endorsement during the DFL State Convention Saturday, June 2,

The case for and against Erin Murphy for governor

Looking at turnout, the candidate favored by the metro is going to be tough to beat.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and running mate Rick Nolan, shown earlier in the month. Swanson defended Nolan against claims that he didn't

Swanson defends Nolan's record in reply to #metoo allegations

In a late interview, the attorney general and one of the three DFL candidates for governor defends her running mate against the accusations that he didn't react strongly enough to harassment situation.
U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis repeatedly made disparaging comments about women during his time as a talk radio provocateur, according to a new report from CNN

Rep. Jason Lewis' 'slut' radio comments resurface in new report with audio

Comments he made on his provocative show are getting a wider airing.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty at a campaign appearance in Eagan in April.

Ex-Gov. Tim Pawlenty focuses on immigration in bid for old job

The immigration debate has emerged as a polarizing cultural fracas in recent years, but Pawlenty said it's not a new issue for him.
Tim Pawlenty

What the early campaign ads tell us

The muddled DFL field for governor has created a challenge for Republican ad makers who would like to go on the attack now.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty released his first television ad in the GOP primary campaign.

Tim Pawlenty takes on GOP opponent Jeff Johnson in his first ad

The ad is a sharply negative attack on the Hennepin County commissioner, who is his Republican primary opponent for governor.
Attorney General Lori Swanson, who has statewide name recognition, is opening a lead in the DFL contest for governor.

Simple name recognition often the key to winning office in Minnesota

The August primary will be a big test of the salience of name ID.
Gubernatorial candidate Erin Murphy and her newly announced running mate State Representative Erin Maye Quade spoke to journalists following the annou

Outstate DFLers sweat all-metro ticket of Murphy-Quade

Democrats worry that a growing metro bent could leave the DFL's rural constituencies increasingly endangered. Even if DFLers can continue to win statewide races with big vote margins in the Twin Cities, a loss of rural support makes it tough to restore legislative majorities.

Republican endorsed in state House race declared bankruptcy

The Republican-endorsed candidate for state House in a western Hennepin County district declared bankruptcy in 2010 with more than $1 million in liabilities and a…
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