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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
Gov. Tim Walz revised his state budget plan in the face of a lower projected surplus, leaving $562 million on the table.

The political potency of a budget surplus

It can't have been easy for Gov. Tim Walz to build a state budget, given his background in the United States Congress. Congress hasn't balanced…
The Minnesota State Capitol as seen from downtown St. Paul.

Number of top income tax filers continues to rise in Minnesota

New revenue data fuels the tax debate at Capitol.
Gov. Tim Walz, shown last month.

Gov. Tim Walz tells group he aims to end veteran homelessness by end of 2019

The governor welcomed hundreds of military veterans converging on the State Capitol to press for housing, disability services and upkeep of cemeteries.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, shown in St. Cloud last week.

Gov. Tim Walz takes his gas tax push on the road to Anoka

MnDOT has identified 500 road and bridge projects for development around the state — if lawmakers approve new revenue.
Big Pharma? Energy companies? Big Tobacco? Teachers unions? Who spent the most dollars on lobbying in Minnesota in 2018?

Who spent the most on lobbying in Minnesota last year?

Energy firms, business groups and unions were leaders in spending.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, above, is one of the Republicans that Gov. Tim Walz hopes to nudge toward bipartisanship.

Impasse at Minnesota Capitol on taxes, guns brings 2020 into focus

Republicans are using their three-seat majority in the state Senate to block the ambitious agenda of newly elected DFL Gov. Tim Walz.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz

Tax filing season headache: Gov. Tim Walz, GOP Senate far apart on a fix

On one point, both sides agree: They would like to give Minnesotans future relief from complications many are enduring this year as they file.
Scott Stillman, former manager of state’s forensics lab, testified in May 2018 before the Senate House and Human Services Reform Committee to invest

Audit: State child care program fraud not $100M but still troubling

Legislative auditor found no evidence that child-care money was funneled to terrorists, as was alleged in a TV news report.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, shown in February during the release of the latest budget forecast.

Walz budget has $148M in new or higher fees, hitting drivers, boaters, health care

Republicans say the fees are no different than tax increases.
Jeremy Moen, top left, reacted to testimony against legalization; top right, bill author Sen. Melisa Franzen listened as legalization advocate Marcus

Walz says state can 'get this right' as Senate stops legal pot

Republicans in the Minnesota Senate voted down a measure Monday to legalize marijuana for recreational use, abruptly ending debate on the subject — for now.
A horticulturist trims marijuana plants in a large growing area for plants in mid-life at LivWell Enlightened Health's Denver warehouse grow facility.

What marijuana legalization might look like in Minnesota

Advocates of legalization are pushing hard and see an opening, with Gov. Tim Walz ready to sign a bill. Even the GOP-controlled Senate will hold a hearing Monday on a legalization measure.
Under Gov. Tim Walz, the state is appealing the PUC’s approval of Enbridge’s new Line 3 despite the promise of thousands of jobs.

Pipeline polarizes Gov. Walz's key constituencies

The Enbridge Line 3 pipeline project continues to be one of new Gov. Tim Walz's most complex political challenges.
The firestorm erupted over comments Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., made last week in a Washington, D.C., bookstore in which she accused supporters of Israe

Rep. Omar in trouble with fellow Democrats in Washington

U.S. House Democrats plan on a resolution formally condemning Omar's recent statements on Israel.
Gov. Tim Walz’s priorities may soon collide with the latest budget and economic forecast numbers.

Gov. Tim Walz had a tough week — perhaps the first of many to come

  Hey, Gov. Tim Walz: Enjoying your new job? This week highlighted some of the challenges of being governor, even when you win a historic…
Rep. Ilhan Omar on the day she was sworn into Congress, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, at the Capitol in Washington.

Omar again criticized over comments about Jewish support for Israel

Spokesman said she was commenting on "undue influence of all foreign interests.
Jason Rarick’s win last week gave Republicans a majority buffer in the state Senate of 35 seats to 32 for Democrats.

Republicans get a lift from special election

After the debilitating November election, Minnesota Republicans needed a win.
First Lady Gwen Walz greeted Randy Anderson, a board member with the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition.

State's first first lady since 2010, Gwen Walz is taking on big role

She's aiming to be unlike any other first lady in Minnesota history, with an office in the Capitol and an ambitious policy portfolio.
Gov. Tim Walz said at a news conference Tuesday that he’s hopeful lawmakers will pass a bill to address the opioid crisis, and it should include fun

Gov. Tim Walz talks to drug companies about opioid epidemic

Walz said he expects to sign bipartisan legislation that would spend roughly millions on prevention, enforcement and treatment.

New to politics, Infinite Campus CEO is big donor for Walz, Klobuchar

Infinite Campus CEO aims to support "centrists" such as Walz and Klobuchar.
Tim Walz walked to a news conference with running mate Peggy Flanagan in August, during the campaign.

Big donors propelled the DFL to victory

DFL Party Chair Ken Martin showed why he's known as such a skilled fundraiser.
Democrat Tim Walz, left, defeated Republican Jeff Johnson in the 2018 Minnesota governor's race.

Walz raised $1.6M more than his GOP rival in governor's race

End-of-year fundraising reports show significant financial support for Walz, including heavy spending by independent groups backing his candidacy.
Among other proposals, state Sen. Melisa Franzen, D-Edina, would enlist health officials to regulate legalized cannabis.

Cannabis legalization cautiously on the move

Democratic lawmakers are already moving on two tracks to legalize marijuana.
Employee's suit alleges racial bias at Minnesota Department of Revenue

Employee's suit alleges racial bias at Minnesota Department of Revenue

A veteran auditor alleges that he was subjected to "unfair and discriminatory treatment" because of his race and national origin.
“I don’t think anyone wants to rush into anything,” Rep. Ryan Winkler, D-Golden Valley, said of a push to legalize sports gambling in Minnesota.

Some lawmakers want legal sports betting in Minnesota, but opposition will be fierce

The Supreme Court paved the way for sports betting, but with a full agenda already, busy lawmakers may take their time.
Gov. Tim Walz appears at a news conference in St. Paul in December.

Walz faces troubled IT agency, only one still lacking a leader

State's system has been plagued by high-profile failures, and an IT leader is difficult to find.
Young cannabis plants in the Otsego greenhouses.

Minn. legislators begin pushing marijuana legalization measures

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is the first Minnesota governor to publicly indicate support for legalizing recreational marijuana, giving activists fresh hope the state might pass the measure this year. But Minnesota opponents are lining up against legalization.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., scored national coverage with her questioning of attorney general nominee William Barr.

Klobuchar's rising profile suggests she's preparing for a presidential run

  More signs that U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is moving toward a presidential run: She made the rounds of national media outlets this past week.…
Minnesota Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles used his subpoena power for the first time in his 35 year career after the state Department of Public Safety

Minn. legislative auditor subpoenas Public Safety over mishandled data

Jim Nobles took the action after public safety officials didn't turn over information on mishandled data.
A driver uses his cellphone while driving.

State lawmakers renew push to cut down on distracted driving

Bipartisan bills boost penalties for texting and restrict drivers to hands-free devices.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said he wants to be a “broker between the House, governor and Republican leadership.”

Tom Bakk, Minnesota Senate minority leader, is making sure he keeps his seat at the table

The Cook Democrat was his usual self after the Senate's first floor session last week.
Former State Rep. Tom Rukavina joked with friends and supporters in the Sawmill Saloon in Virginia, Minn., in 2014.

Former Rep. Rukavina, who served Iron Range for more than quarter century, dead at 68

As a legislator and St. Louis County commissioner, he served with pride, humor.
Gov.-elect Tim Walz and Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan last month at the State Capitol.

Meet the faces of Gov.-elect Tim Walz's administration

Walz filled out most of his Cabinet after an exhaustive process that included more than 500 applicants.
Minnesota GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan is seeking another term and says the party can gain ground in 2020.

History suggests Minnesota Republicans can't count on an easy bounce back

History suggests presidential elections are both better for Minnesota Democrats and far less volatile than midterms.
Republican Party of Minnesota Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan.

Jennifer Carnahan announces run for GOP party chair reelection

Under Carnahan, the GOP lost every statewide race but fought to a draw in congressional races in Minnesota.
Gov.-elect Tim Walz speaks with state Sen. Tony Lourey after he announced Lourey will be commissioner of the Department of Human Services, Thursday, J

Walz names seven new commissioners, including human services, DNR

State Sen. Tony Lourey will take over Human Services; Sarah Strommen is the first woman appointed to lead the DNR.
After her big midterm win, Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is said to be pondering a run for the presidency.

Key questions for Minnesota politics in 2019

Minnesotans entrusted a new crop of elected officials with big jobs in the November election. The next year will be a hugely important proving ground,…
Governor Mark Dayton is "the most consequential governor in recent history,” said DFL politico Wy Spano.

The Dayton difference: Governor's eight-year tenure has reshaped state

A mix of good economic fortunes, shrewd political skill and the missteps of his opponents has allowed Dayton to make his mark.
Gov.-elect Tim Walz is mostly unknown in Twin Cities political circles, which means he’s likely bringing new faces to the Capitol.

Who is on the inside of the new Walz administration

We're in the middle of a rapid change in the state's politics, especially as Gov. Mark Dayton passes the baton to Gov.-elect Tim Walz. It's…
Credit: Jon Bream Garth Brook in the final night of his 11-show run at the Target Center.

Garth Brooks adds second U.S. Bank Stadium show at Gov. Mark Dayton's urging

After first show sells out, star responds to plea.
Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan said she and Gov.-elect Tim Walz showed up for Indian voters — both before and after winning.

Minnesota election saw surge in American Indian voters, candidates

If not for the American Indian population, which comprises 13 percent of Bemidji, John Persell probably would not have won his Minnesota House seat. Persell,…
Representative Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa on the House floor.

Four House Republicans break away from their own caucus to form a new one

Splinter group shakes up GOP's dynamics at Capitol before session gets started.
Three female legislators and one candidate for the legislature, who have been outspoken against sexual harassment at the legislature spoke at the prot

One in five Minnesota House members, staff have been harassed or witnessed it

Survey of Minnesota House members and staff was conducted in response to the 2017 scandal that cost two lawmakers their seats.
Gov,-elect Tim Walz and former Gov. Jesse Ventura left a meeting inside the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul in November, one which included talk o

Marijuana legalization seems headed to Minn., but it's unclear when

Legalizing marijuana is looming as a next big political showdown at the Minnesota State Capitol.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen hugged his wife, Kelly, during his concession speech last month. His decision to run negative ads damaged his Mr. Nice Guy bran

Negative ads work, but they can backfire

It’s easy to be cynical about politics and especially about negative ads. Minnesotans were bombarded with tens of millions of dollars worth of political ads…
Labor leaders said they expect Gov.-elect Tim Walz to be a strong advocate, especially to workers in the building trades.

Labor ascendant at the Capitol

Fortunes have changed with the Democrats' sweeping electoral gains, which came with an assist in dollars and volunteers from labor.
Dean Phillips, left, and Angie Craig flipped suburban House seats, but Craig faced a more closely divided district.

Narrow loss in suburban Second District shows GOP's national headwinds

Exit polling in the Second District by St. Olaf political scientist Christopher Chapp and his students illustrates Republicans' 2018 problems.
Rep. Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, shown in 2017, is the new speaker of the Minnesota House.

Minnesota House Democrats announce new committees and their leaders

It's a first step in setting the party's agenda in the session that starts in January.
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 •

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.'
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