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J. Patrick Coolican

Reporter | Politics and state government
phone: 651-925-5042
Patrick Coolican began his career by starting a website and following the 2000 presidential campaign. Before coming to the Star Tribune, he was a longtime reporter in Las Vegas.
Recent content from J. Patrick Coolican
Donald Trump is shown speaking at a Minnesota rally two days before the 2016 election. He is scheduled to make his first Minnesota appearance since th

Minnesota GOP, once resistant to Trump, rallies behind him

As the president visits Duluth on Wednesday, the state's Republicans are banking on him to boost their prospects in the November election.
In 2006, DFL gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch, with running mate Judi Dutcher, lost to Republican Tim Pawlenty.

Minnesota politicians party like it's 2006

The paralels are many with the latest scramble, especially in DFL politics.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka spoke with Governor Mark Dayton as the governor left February's budget announcement.

Gov. Mark Dayton's rocky relationship with Legislature ends as it began

A major task for Minnesota's next governor will be to reset the relationship between the office of chief executive and the Legislature.
Maria Rosario and Bill Jungbauer, delegates from Inver Grove Heights wanted to take their photo by cutouts of President Trump and First Lady Melania T

Minnesota Republicans in Congress split over Trump, Mueller probe

Paulsen, Emmer, Lewis all have different response.
Lori Swanson announced her plans at a news conference Monday with running mate U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan at her side.

Swanson joins governor's race with Nolan as running mate

A Swanson-Nolan gubernatorial ticket adds more drama to a DFL primary that already promises to be hotly contested. With the endorsing conventions behind them, both parties are focused on the next chapter of the campaign.
Rep. Erin Murphy smiled on stage after it was announced that the other candidates for governor were dropping out of the endorsement process at the DFL

DFL endorses Murphy, GOP backs Johnson, but primaries are coming

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty did not compete with the other candidates who went to Duluth for the Republican convention. U.S. Rep. Tim Walz withdrew in Rochester in pursuit of party backing but will continue at the polls.
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, top left, is expected to be challenged by GOP Sen. Karin Housley, top right, in November, while U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, bottom

GOP, DFL endorse U.S. Senate candidates for the fall election

At dueling political conventions the same weekend, Minnesota Republicans and DFLers gathered to endorse candidates for what promises to be the most significant election cycle in the state in decades.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced Lt. Governor Michelle Fischbach as his running mate as he runs for a third term.

Gubernatorial candidate Pawlenty picks Lt. Gov. Fischbach as running mate

Ex-governor cites longtime legislator's experience.
State Rep. Erin Murphy’s campaign released a statement distinguishing her from her foes.

Faith group backs Rep. Erin Murphy as Tim Walz also scrambles for delegates

St. Paul state rep in tight battle with Walz, Otto for DFL backing in campaign to run for governor.
Participants at a town hall meeting Wednesday held up red “disagree cards” when U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen refused to say that health care was a right

Paulsen distances himself from Trump, others via town hall

The five-term Republican used a forum his critics sought for months to highlight areas where he disagrees with fellow Republicans.
Jeff Johnson, left, is the favorite to be endorsed for governor at the Republican convention, which former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, right, is skipping and t

State party conventions feature hotly contested race for governor

Across the state, activists and candidates gear up for the endorsing ritual.
Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the GOP tax bill at Bruce Vento Elementary in St. Paul to send a message on school aid.

How will legislative session's ugly end play in November?

Who will take the blame? How will voters react? Will it matter much?
State Sen. Michelle Fischbach is sworn in as lieutenant governor of Minnesota on Friday, May 25, 2018.

Fischbach resigns Senate seat, takes lieutenant governor oath

State Sen. Michelle Fischbach had been holding off from being officially sworn into the position amid a legal challenge from DFLers who maintained the state Constitution prohibited her from serving in both roles.
Upper Post barracks at Fort Snelling would be converted to affordable housing, with veterans given priority, under a plan that got a boost from the bo

Legislature pushes Fort Snelling affordable housing, at $600K per unit

Beat-the-clock bill has funds for pricey-to-build, affordable-to-rent units.
Republican legislative leaders House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka congratulated each other on their accomplishments. The

Spending, tax bills include Dayton wishes, GOP says

Dayton vowed to veto both a tax bill and a hefty catchall bill with nearly 1,000 pages of spending and policy changes; he has two weeks in which to decide for sure.
Vile, appalling disgusting, debacle, badly mismanaged, beholden to special interests, just some of the ways Gov. Mark Dayton described actions by by t

Dayton veto threat hangs over legislative session's final bills

Minnesota lawmakers adjourned late Sunday after finalizing a handful of tax and spending measures, but with little chance they'd have much to show for three months of work as Gov. Mark Dayton vowed to veto most of their major efforts.
With the clock ticking, it's unclear whether Republican leaders at the Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton will reach accord on a handful of pr

Minnesota lawmakers, Gov. Dayton at odds as finish line nears

In session's second-to-last day, a late meeting between Dayton, lawmakers produced no agreement.
Tim Pawlenty sought the cover of legislative session’s final days to announce he was skipping the state convention.

Education Minnesota backs Walz as endorsements for governor begin

Lost amid the usual hubbub at the end of this year’s legislative session, the race for governor saw major developments two weeks before the state…
Few Minnesota lawmakers have more at stake in the legislative session’s final few days than state Sen. Karin Housley.

Housley stays in forefront of Capitol debates while trying for U.S. Senate seat

Few Minnesota lawmakers have more at stake in the legislative session's final few days than state Sen. Karin Housley, who is working to fatten a…
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton reflected on the final days of the 2018 legislative session in the library of the governor's residence.

Dayton promises veto of key tax bill, lashes out at Legislature

Gov. Mark Dayton is promising to veto a key tax bill that the Republican-controlled Senate passed narrowly Wednesday, ratcheting up tensions between the governor and the Legislature's GOP majorities.
Rep. Pat Garofalo,R-Farmington, who has been pushing for legal sports betting in Minnesota, holds news conference to respond to Supreme Court ruling t

High court clears way for sports betting, Minn. opposition forms

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling sets up the prospect of legal sports gambling, and a marked change in the sports entertainment experience. But Minnesotans may have to wait: State Rep. Pat Garofalo said there's not enough time in Minnesota's current legislative session — which ends in less than a week — to get a law passed.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, left, and Gov. Mark Dayton will be key players in what the final tax bill will look like.

For Minnesota businesses, much riding on state tax code rewrite

Businesses are watching last-minute deal making closely for winners, losers.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican lawmakers share some agreement but are seeking leverage before adjourning.

Governor, lawmakers seek leverage as this year's legislative dance nears its end

It will make for a busy and chaotic week.
Minnesota Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt in a 2017 file photo.

Republicans at the Legislature suggest tapping lottery trust fund for public works

The GOP is turning to an obscure state entity that gets its money from the State Lottery to borrow as much as $100 million for public works projects.
The Minnesota State Capitol.

Bill to curb opioid epidemic passes state Senate

The bill, which is opposed by the powerful pharmaceutical industry and conservative activist groups, still faces a tough road in the Republican-controlled House.
Wild rice grows exclusively in some parts of the Great Lakes states, primarily Minnesota.

Dayton vetoes bill that would kill wild rice protections

He called it an extreme overreach by state lawmakers and a violation of the federal Clean Water Act.
Several tax proposals are currently under consideration in St. Paul.

What you need to know about the Minnesota Legislature's tax bills

The Minnesota House and Senate, both controlled by Republicans, have each passed bills to lower taxes for most Minnesotans and bring the state’s tax…

Government spending on lobbying down, but still measured in millions

Local governments in Minnesota spent less money on lobbying in 2017 compared to the previous year, but still used $8.77 million trying to influence decisions…
In a bipartisan news conference, Gov. Mark Dayton announced the final new state guidelines and grants to fight opioid abuse. The announcement was made

Waves of lobbyists greet bipartisan effort at Minn. Capitol to tax opioids

More than three dozen lobbyists were deployed to kill penny-a-pill measure.
Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, listened Thursday as other senators challenged his omnibus tax bill on the Senate floor.

Minnesota Senate passes GOP tax plan to reduce lowest rate

Lawmakers from the Republican-controlled House and Senate now must compromise on their different plans and then win the approval of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.
The Minnesota Senate chamber is shown in this 2017 file photo. On Tuesday, GOP senators released their tax cut proposal. GLEN STUBBE ï glen.stubbe@st

Minnesota Senate Republicans propose tax cuts for lowest state income bracket

$176 million would be used to reduce the state's lowest-tier income tax rate.
Republican Tax Chairman Rep. Gregory Davids threw his hands in the air as his bill passed 90-38.

House passes plan with lower taxes for many, higher for some

The Minnesota House passed a bill Monday that would lower the state's individual income tax rate for the first time since 2000 while updating the tax system.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt said he hoped some gun legislation “can get support of the Legislature,” then disavowed it.

Minnesota House speaker dodges 'arrows' on gun legislation

His comments, seemingly a glimmer of hope for supporters of stricter gun laws, drew lots of media coverage. But Kurt Daudt says they were misunderstood.
State Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, in a March 2015 file photo.

State rep accused by advocate of unwanted touching; he says it was not sexual

Following allegations against Rep. Rod Hamilton, Republican leaders of the state House have suspended him as committee chairman.
House Taxes Committee Chair Greg Davids listened as Revenue Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly spoke before the committee on Tuesday.

House GOP wants income tax cut for 2.1 million Minnesotans, but smaller number would see hikes

House committee also votes to end some income tax breaks.
The Minnesota State Capitol

Minnesota Poll: Gun limits a tough sell at Capitol

Minnesota Poll: Most favor wider background checks, reporting of lost or stolen guns.

Minn. House Republicans release plan to cut state income tax rate

Reduction would be the first in state since 2000.
Gov. Dayton says Republicans, who have attacked his plan and have yet to reveal a plan of their own, had better deal.

Tax deal at State Capitol far from certain

Gov. Mark Dayton offered a sharply worded threat to the Republican-controlled Legislature last week: "There's nothing the administration has to have in this session. There…
Go. Mark Dayton spoke at the State Capitol in February.

With time running short, still no tax fix at Minnesota Legislature

Less than five weeks to go in the legislative session, and the two parties are trading accusations.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty greeted supporters during his first public appearance after entering the race to seek a historic third term. He answered ques

Pawlenty laps GOP field with $1M in 3 weeks of fundraising

Tim Pawlenty has the money and name recognition to skip an unpredictable GOP endorsement convention and head straight to the primary.
Jerry Trooien (file)

One-time bankrupt developer Jerry Trooien running for U.S. Senate

Jerry Trooien files as an independent to challenge Democrat Tina Smith.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, shown at an event in 2012.

Pawlenty's work for banks thrilled Wall Street, angered consumer advocates

In running again for governor, the Republican faces scrutiny of his tenure at Financial Services Roundtable, which fought aggressively against regulations.
The Republican Governors Association has reserved $2.3 million in airtime to help Tim Pawlenty's campaign.

As voters face barrage of TV ads, Minnesota candidates will struggle to break out

Get ready to be inundated with TV ads this autumn, thanks to the Minnesota races.

Dayton unveils five-year IT plan in face of daily cyberattacks

The administration of Gov. Mark Dayton has rolled out a five-year strategic plan to improve state government’s cybersecurity in the face of daily attacks from…
“I don’t know what he’s going to run on because his record as governor was so abysmal,” Gov. Mark Dayton said of Republican gubernatorial cand

Dayton rips into predecessor Pawlenty over run for governor

"I don't know what he's going to run on because his record as governor was so abysmal," Dayton said in an interview with the Star Tribune.
Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach gaveled the Senate into its first session in February.

Constituent sues Minnesota Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach for remaining in Senate

The lawsuit by Destiny Dusosky seeks to remove Fischbach, a Republican, from the Senate.
Voters cast early ballots at a voting center in Minneapolis on Sept. 23, 2016. The DFL is hoping to energize young voters.

DFL hoping to energize young voters, people of color and suburban women

But the party will have to work to turn voters out in a nonpresidential year.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty greeted supporters during his first public appearance after entering the race to seek a historic third term. He answered ques

Pawlenty voted for Trump, then called him 'unhinged and unfit'

Weeks before election he had called candidate "unhinged and unfit" to be president
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty spoke in March at the Edina Country Club on the Future of Work at a joint meeting of the Chambers of Commerce for Bloomington

Tim Pawlenty makes it official: He's running for governor again

The former two-term Republican governor, moving toward a comeback bid for months, aims to recapture support of state GOP.
Move to legalize sports betting taking shape in Minnesota Legislature

Move to legalize sports betting taking shape in Minnesota Legislature

A behind-the-scenes effort is underway at the Minnesota Legislature to legalize sports betting in defiance of current federal law.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka spoke with Gov. Mark Dayton as the governor left the budget announcement in February.

Cost of legal fight between Gov. Mark Dayton and Legislature: $767,000

Taxpayer tally was settled when firm for Legislature submitted a $399,000 bill.
Vice President Mike Pence rallied Republicans in downtown Minneapolis Wednesday morning, selling the party's tax cuts and talking up the state of the

Pence to Minnesota GOP: Trump is 'keeping his promise'

Vice President Mike Pence rallied Republicans in downtown Minneapolis , selling the party's tax cuts and talking up the state of the U.S. economy.
Supporters shook hands with Vice President Mike Pence after his arrival Tuesday at the Minnesota National Guard's 934th Airlift Wing.

Vice President Pence to speak at tax bill rally in Mpls. this morning

Pence will appear at Minneapolis event on Wednesday with Republican members of Congress from Minnesota.
Governor Mark Dayton during an elementary school visit in 2015. The DFL governor, who has made expanded early learning a central priority, is asking t

Gov. Mark Dayton wants money for prekindergarten, even after he's out of office

DFL governor calls on lawmakers to make one-time money permanent for early learning classes, a key goal of his tenure.
The Minnesota State Capitol in a photo from September 2017. ] GLEN STUBBE ï glen.stubbe@startribune.com

State workers to receive raises of 2 percent and 2.25 percent

More than 30K state workers got a raise of 2 percent retroactive to last summer, with another 2.25 jump in July.
Gov. Mark Dayton

Dayton's tax proposal makes families the 'number one' focus

The tax plan Dayton recently outlined would cut taxes for most income tax filers while raising them on many businesses. Republicans, particularly in the state Senate, have offered a blistering response.
Education Minnesota and labor allies packed the State Capitol Rotunda in 2017 protesting cuts to public education.

Teachers union may endorse for governor before DFL convention

Its support in the days leading up to the convention — during which labor will play a big role — would be an enormous lift.

Gun control legislation at the Minnesota Capitol

Republican control of the state House and Senate has made significant gun control measures unlikely at the Minnesota Capitol this year. But lawmakers have introduced…
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty spoke at the Edina Country Club on the Future of Work at a joint meeting of the Chambers of Commerce for Bloomington, Eden Pr

Ex-Gov. Pawlenty files with campaign board, moving closer to run

Former Republican governor expected to formally announce bid for third term in near future.
Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, entered the Minnesota House Chamber along with other senators to attend the governor's State of the State address On

At Minnesota Capitol, support for guns is deeply ingrained

The National Rifle Association has no full-time Minnesota lobbyist. Why? It doesn't need one.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty spoke at the Edina Country Club on Friday. “We are warming up the engine,” he said.

Pawlenty isn't running for governor yet, but he's definitely ramping up

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty is continuing to lay the groundwork for a bid for his old job, as evidenced by several developments last week. Pawlenty…
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty spoke Friday at the Edina Country Club on the Future of Work at a joint meeting of the Chambers of Commerce for Bloomington,

In Edina, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty sounds like candidate

Ex-governor shows off his grasp of policy in possible prelude to decision to run.
Gov. Mark Dayton waved and smiled at his family in the gallery at the beginning of his State of the State speech on Wednesday night.

Dayton wraps up final State of State with a focus on finances

He also called for more state spending on education, public works infrastructure and school safety, saying he wants to leave the state in better financial condition than he found in 2011.
"I became a delegate almost out of spite," said Abdi Mohamed, who wants to be a Republican but is getting a message that he's not welcome.

Some in state GOP give Muslims a cold shoulder

Abdi Mohamed is a Republican Trump voter with a red “Make America Great Again” hat to prove it, and he is a practicing Muslim. Born…
Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy, left, shook hands with South Dakota Sen. George McGovern as Vice President Hubert Humphrey, also a Minnesotan, looked

In pivotal 1968 race, two Minnesotans tussled to make history

Half a century ago, Lyndon Johnson had gone from “Uncle Corn Pone” — the derisive nickname given him by the Kennedys — to a record…
Joseph Rannazzisi will be at the Minnesota State Capitol on Wednesday and Thursday talking to lawmakers about the opioid problem.

DEA whistleblower will make case for Minnesota pill tax to curb opioids

One-time Drug Enforcement Agency official Joseph T. Rannazzisi helped uncover drug industry influence in Washington.
State Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, is optimistic about her gubernatorial chances despite a third-place caucus finish.

Each of the DFL candidates for Minnesota governor can make a case

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz bagged another endorsement last week, this one from carpenters, which continues a string of building-trades support that includes the International Union…
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, shown in 2016.

Rep. Erik Paulsen says gun control 'gaps' need to be addressed

Minnesota Republican says research into gun violence should proceed. One of his DFL foes, Dean Phillips, said it's too little, too late.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, DFL-Mankato, talked with AFSCME delegates after a forum.

Rep. Walz, long supported by NRA, proposes assault weapons ban

He's slammed by DFLers for past support and by gun rights advocates for the shift.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, shown at an event in 2012.

Pawlenty finds 'A-list' support as he mulls return to Minn. politics

A group of about 100 of Minnesota's richest, most politically engaged Republicans filed into a common room last week. The host was former Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He was offering an opportunity to get in on his own potential comeback bid in a gubernatorial race shaping up as the most significant and wide open in years.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz of Mankato won seven of eight congressional districts in the caucus straw poll for governor.

Tim Walz's advantage may be larger than it appeared on caucus night

From a delegate perspective his caucus support was wide as well as deep in some places.
FILE - In this Dec. 2, 2016, file photo, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison listens during a forum on the future of the Democratic Party in Denver. Ellison

Rep. Keith Ellison again faces questions about Farrakhan relationship

He says Nation of Islam leader's presence at 2013 dinner was incidental.
FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2012, file photo, David Wellstone, son of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, speaks at the Macalester College campus in St. Pa

Wellstone Action internal dispute divides DFL figures at key time

The removal of David and Mark Wellstone and the split come heading into an election year that many in the party view as the most consequential in years.
Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, closed his eyes as he said he and DFL Sen. Chris Eaton can’t get their loved ones back as he spoke about the “penny-a-

Dayton, bipartisan legislators propose new tax on opioids to address epidemic

The plan would raise about $20 million per year for prevention, emergency response, treatment, recovery and law enforcement.
State Representative Erin Murphy (DFL) ] GLEN STUBBE ï glen.stubbe@startribune.com Friday, January 26, 2018 Minnesota candidates for governor gathere

A look at the major candidates for Minnesota governor

These are the major contenders vying for their parties' nominations for Minnesota governor in 2018.
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