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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
The next legislative session is going to be strange

The next legislative session is going to be strange

  Minnesota’s 2018 legislative session, which convenes Feb. 20, promises to be bonkers. The Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision last week to uphold a line-item veto…
Commerce Commissioner Rothman resigns to run for attorney general

Commerce Commissioner Rothman resigns to run for attorney general

Dayton appointed Jessica Looman, deputy labor commissioner, to take over.
Gov. Dayton calls for task force to address senior care abuses

Gov. Dayton calls for task force to address senior care abuses

Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday he would create a task force to deal with abuses in senior homes revealed in a Star Tribune series this week. "The senior care failures are really appalling," he said.
Lawyer for lobbyist warns Rep. Tony Cornish to preserve documents

Lawyer for lobbyist warns Rep. Tony Cornish to preserve documents

A letter to the legislator from an accuser's lawyer suggests a lawsuit may be coming.
Sex harassment allegations are challenging State Capitol culture

Sex harassment allegations are challenging State Capitol culture

Those who regularly pass through the Capitol share stories of a proverbial small world that can enable untoward behavior.
Ex-GOP Speaker Zellers says he warned Cornish

Ex-GOP Speaker Zellers says he warned Cornish

"I believe he should resign" and apologize, says the former GOP House speaker.
Lawmaker, lobbyist accuse Rep. Cornish of sexual harassment

Lawmaker, lobbyist accuse Rep. Cornish of sexual harassment

Late Thursday, House Speaker Kurt Daudt suspended Sen. Tony Cornish's chairmanship and called for a human resources investigation of the allegations, which Cornish denies.
Dayton calls on state Sen. Schoen to resign over harassment reports

Dayton calls on state Sen. Schoen to resign over harassment reports

Amid allegations against Sen. Dan Schoen, a DFL state representative says sexual harassment is "bigger than one senator" at Capitol.
Why national Republicans covet Minnesota

Why national Republicans covet Minnesota

The RNC is investing money here designed to help congressional Republicans as they fight for every last seat to maintain their House majority.
For Gov. Mark Dayton, policy and politics aligned on PolyMet

For Gov. Mark Dayton, policy and politics aligned on PolyMet

In supporting PolyMet mining project, Dayton courts onetime DFL stronghold.
Minnesota House Republicans confident going into 2018

Minnesota House Republicans confident going into 2018

There's a wild card: What if a bunch of Republicans retire?
Dayton says PolyMet copper nickel mining should go ahead

Dayton says PolyMet copper nickel mining should go ahead

As long as the public is protected from environmental and financial calamity, the governor says, the northern Minnesota mining project should be allowed to go forward.
Minnesota GOP waiting for winning candidate for governor

Minnesota GOP waiting for winning candidate for governor

Donors and activists say they want a "proven winner" for the 2018 governor's campaign. The names most often mentioned? Daudt and Pawlenty.
Greater Minnesota was not greater for the DFL in 2016

Greater Minnesota was not greater for the DFL in 2016

An analysis of granular, precinct-level results of the 2016 election is making the rounds, and I got a look at some of the data from…
Enbridge pipeline debate divides key DFL factions

Enbridge pipeline debate divides key DFL factions

Labor, environmental wings fighting over jobs, impact of project.
Pawlenty for governor in 2018? Comeback talk gets louder

Pawlenty for governor in 2018? Comeback talk gets louder

The former governor's efforts to hush all the talk about a return to politics seem a little less than completely sincere to both fans and foes.
Magazine article on Iron Range dilemma will leave a scar

Magazine article on Iron Range dilemma will leave a scar

The reaction on the Iron Range to a New York Times Magazine article is the last thing DFL Chair Ken Martin needed.
Comments about Minn. miners in New York Times Magazine story cause Iron Range uproar

Comments about Minn. miners in New York Times Magazine story cause Iron Range uproar

The quote has exploded already simmering tensions between environmentalists and mining advocates on the Iron Range.
Some state House races to watch in 2018

Some state House races to watch in 2018

Politics is like college sports: The best teams begin with an advantage because they recruit the best players, and the cycle continues. Politics is often…
DFL candidates for governor try to impress important union

DFL candidates for governor try to impress important union

DULUTH – The six DFLers running in next year’s governor’s race wooed 900 union activists gathered here Friday, trying to win their valuable backing…
In run for Minn. governor, Tim Walz names a running mate

In run for Minn. governor, Tim Walz names a running mate

DFL candidate chose state Rep. Peggy Flanagan from the west-metro, who has progressive credentials.
AFSCME forum marks the unofficial start of the campaign for Minnesota governor

AFSCME forum marks the unofficial start of the campaign for Minnesota governor

Let’s call Friday the unofficial kickoff of the DFL campaign for governor, when candidates will appear in Duluth at a forum put on by the…
Legislature is ordered to disclose all funds in suit vs. Dayton

Legislature is ordered to disclose all funds in suit vs. Dayton

The Minnesota Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to again submit to the justices a report on how much money they have as part of their ongoing legal fight with Gov. Mark Dayton.
For Minnesota's 2018 gubernatorial candidates, it's decision time

For Minnesota's 2018 gubernatorial candidates, it's decision time

Hey, Hamlet: It’s time to decide. It’s that time during the election cycle when a bunch of potential candidates are weighing whether their party has…
Minnesota Nurses Association endorses Rep. Erin Murphy for governor

Minnesota Nurses Association endorses Rep. Erin Murphy for governor

  The Minnesota Nurses Association endorsed Rep. Erin Murphy’s campaign for governor Wednesday after a vote of the union’s board of directors. “Nurses decided to…
Mild-mannered state lawmaker Matt Dean seizes early edge in GOP clash for governor

Mild-mannered state lawmaker Matt Dean seizes early edge in GOP clash for governor

Despite a persona that's pretty much the opposite of the president, Dean has emerged as an early leader in the still-forming Republican field.
Teachers to spend big in 2018; single-payer test for Dean Phillips

Teachers to spend big in 2018; single-payer test for Dean Phillips

In a sign of how seriously it is taking the 2018 election, Education Minnesota is upping its political action committee dues by $10 per year.…
Sen. Al Franken draws ire — and negative ads — of conservative judicial activists

Sen. Al Franken draws ire — and negative ads — of conservative judicial activists

Republicans are furious with Franken for blocking the nomination of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to the federal bench.
Gov. Dayton says Minnesota's Amazon HQ bid to be 'restrained'

Gov. Dayton says Minnesota's Amazon HQ bid to be 'restrained'

Dayton cited the importance of local companies Target and Best Buy, which are both competitors to the online retailing giant.
Dayton, Legislature head for high-stakes mediation

Dayton, Legislature head for high-stakes mediation

The Minnesota Supreme Court's ruling threw the dispute back to the state's politicians with a message that might be summarized this way: Not our problem. Fix it yourselves.
Running an outsider campaign has its downsides

Running an outsider campaign has its downsides

Word is that Keith Downey, former legislator and state Republican Party chairman running for governor, is lighting it up on the hustings as he runs…
DFL candidates for governor line up behind pot legalization

DFL candidates for governor line up behind pot legalization

Most of the DFL's leading candidates for governor support legal cannabis for recreational, not just medicinal use
Longtime labor leader retiring after years as DFL power broker

Longtime labor leader retiring after years as DFL power broker

Eliot Seide to retire from powerful labor job, leaving union strong but under assault.
Early action starts to shape Minnesota governor's race

Early action starts to shape Minnesota governor's race

The election is more than a year away, but tests of support loom.
Political candidates make their case at the Great Minnesota Get-Together

Political candidates make their case at the Great Minnesota Get-Together

Even in years without major elections, politicians flock to Minnesota State Fair.
Dayton's legacy is on the line in legislative funding Supreme Court fight

Dayton's legacy is on the line in legislative funding Supreme Court fight

High court takes on his funding veto this week.
Minnesota GOP's new leaders facing old financial challenges

Minnesota GOP's new leaders facing old financial challenges

Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan named Matthew Pagano the new executive director of the party last week. Pagano has worked for U.S. Reps. Tom…
GOP state Sen. David Osmek says he's running for governor

GOP state Sen. David Osmek says he's running for governor

Self-described "fighter" vows to bring Trump-style combative campaigning to governor's race.
Chris Coleman takes on early baggage in race for governor

Chris Coleman takes on early baggage in race for governor

The St. Paul mayor proposed a 24 percent increase in the property tax levy last week, and if you're explaining, you're losing.
Rep. Erik Paulsen, with powerful colleague, tries to sell tax code overhaul

Rep. Erik Paulsen, with powerful colleague, tries to sell tax code overhaul

Minnesota Republican touts plan as GOP agenda sputters under Trump.
Conservative group takes early shot at Rep. Tim Walz with ad on veterans issues

Conservative group takes early shot at Rep. Tim Walz with ad on veterans issues

Walz, a DFL candidate for governor, is the ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and has made care for veterans a defining issue.
Time to worry? Minn. revenues coming in lower than expected

Time to worry? Minn. revenues coming in lower than expected

Gov. Mark Dayton says tax cuts leave no "margin for error"; GOP says spending is bigger issue.
Tax cuts drive another wedge between GOP, Gov. Dayton

Tax cuts drive another wedge between GOP, Gov. Dayton

Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans will get more money in their pockets thanks to tax cuts beginning July 1, costing the state treasury about $650 million over the next two years.
DNC's Perez tries to rally the troops in South St. Paul

DNC's Perez tries to rally the troops in South St. Paul

If his union hall speech is any indication, Perez seems to have decided Democrats need a positive message.
Legislative leaders, Gov. Mark Dayton agree to temporarily fund legislative operations

Legislative leaders, Gov. Mark Dayton agree to temporarily fund legislative operations

Legal fight between Dayton, GOP leaders headed to court but they agreed on 90-day funding.
DNC Chairman Tom Perez, sans profanity, tries to rally DFLers

DNC Chairman Tom Perez, sans profanity, tries to rally DFLers

Tom Perez was joined by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison during a rally at a South St. Paul union hall.
Thissen's DFL run for governor puts urban-rural chasm to test

Thissen's DFL run for governor puts urban-rural chasm to test

Rep. Paul Thissen joined a crowded DFL field of gubernatorial candidates last week, and during an interview he explained his campaign themes: economic security and…
With Mille Lacs tourism still hurting, Legislature helps one — and only one — resort

With Mille Lacs tourism still hurting, Legislature helps one — and only one — resort

It was tucked inside a new state law that distributes $378 million in taxpayer dollars to create jobs and spur economic development.
Former Minnesota DFL House Speaker Paul Thissen to run for governor

Former Minnesota DFL House Speaker Paul Thissen to run for governor

The DFL field in the race to replace Gov. Mark Dayton continues to grow.
Dayton's budget legacy: Surpluses and spending rise

Dayton's budget legacy: Surpluses and spending rise

Mark Dayton, a second-term DFL governor not running for re-election, largely sealed his ambitious budget legacy in May when he signed his final two-year budget.
Dayton, GOP lawmakers dig in deeper as cutoff looms

Dayton, GOP lawmakers dig in deeper as cutoff looms

It's unclear if average Minnesotans know or care, but the Legislature's operating funds will be cut off in just a few weeks, leaving it to survive on reserves while pay and benefits for lawmakers and staffers hang in the balance.
Conservative group sues Dayton administration over Legislature defunding

Conservative group sues Dayton administration over Legislature defunding

A conservative group on Monday sued to ensure continued paychecks for state lawmakers who are trapped in a fight with Gov. Mark Dayton over the…
Minn. legislative session was one of agreement and acrimony

Minn. legislative session was one of agreement and acrimony

Here's a look back at what got done and what didn't at the State Capitol in another extra-long session.
Minn. Legislature moves to sue Gov. Dayton over funding cut

Minn. Legislature moves to sue Gov. Dayton over funding cut

A Republican-led panel agreed to enter into negotiations with a law firm after the governor used his line item veto authority to cut all funding for the Legislature's operations beginning July 1.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan running for re-election, not for governor

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan running for re-election, not for governor

Nolan, 73, has won two tough re-election victories in his northeastern Minnesota district since his election in 2012.
Constitutional fight escalates between Dayton, Legislature

Constitutional fight escalates between Dayton, Legislature

State lawmakers prepared Wednesday to hire an outside lawyer to represent their interests as a political dispute with Gov. Mark Dayton snowballed.
Dayton signs budget, tax bills; fight not over with lawmakers

Dayton signs budget, tax bills; fight not over with lawmakers

Gov. Mark Dayton invited a high-stakes constitutional clash Tuesday by signing bills that will fund the executive branch while eliminating funding for the Legislature, leaving lawmakers with dwindling cash to continue operations.
State Auditor Rebecca Otto loses appeal in fight over scope of duties

State Auditor Rebecca Otto loses appeal in fight over scope of duties

Otto's lawsuit alleged that a 2015 law has undermined the authority of her office.
Winners and losers at State Capitol with session wrapped up

Winners and losers at State Capitol with session wrapped up

Who did well and who didn't in the legislative session that ended early Friday.
For labor movement in Minnesota, a tough week at State Capitol

For labor movement in Minnesota, a tough week at State Capitol

Minnesota’s labor movement had a crisis moment last week, as various compromises and deals between DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature surfaced in…
Dayton says he is undecided on signing all 10 budget bills

Dayton says he is undecided on signing all 10 budget bills

The governor leveled criticism at some features of the plan, particularly the tax bill, after the Legislature wrapped up its special session at 3 a.m. Friday.
State Legislature wraps up special session

State Legislature wraps up special session

With votes on the bonding bill, lawmakers ended their work early Friday on the state's $46 billion two-year budget. The finish came on the fourth day they met in a special session. The bills were headed to Gov. Mark Dayton.
Legislature adjourns for night, meaning another day of special session

Legislature adjourns for night, meaning another day of special session

Republicans and DFLers spar over who's responsible for the lack of progress.
At Capitol, final bills take shape as push is on to finish Minn. budget

At Capitol, final bills take shape as push is on to finish Minn. budget

In a special session, Gov. Dayton and lawmakers work to finalize the state's $46 billion budget.
Special session starts now: Last-minute budget deal reached

Special session starts now: Last-minute budget deal reached

"We've got a framework. We still have details to work out," Dayton said, calling a special session for 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, to end at 7 a.m. on Wednesday.
Sheriff Rich Stanek running for re-election, not governor, in 2018

Sheriff Rich Stanek running for re-election, not governor, in 2018

The Hennepin County sheriff made the announcement on Facebook.
Session endgame shows importance of 2018

Session endgame shows importance of 2018

With the Senate not up for election in 2018 and the House GOP majority looking relatively secure, a Republican governor in 2018 could finally get the GOP the big tax cuts they have been thirsting after for years.
Capitol player Golnik plots path to greater power for Minnesota Republicans

Capitol player Golnik plots path to greater power for Minnesota Republicans

Ben Golnik's instincts, drive to win pushed the party to new heights.
Facing impasse, Gov. Dayton calls state of budget 'clear as mud'

Facing impasse, Gov. Dayton calls state of budget 'clear as mud'

Asked what he thought are the prospects the Legislature would finish in time for a Monday deadline, the DFL governor replied: "Not promising."
As legislative endgame nears, who has the upper hand?

As legislative endgame nears, who has the upper hand?

An orderly and on-time conclusion to the legislative session was already starting to look iffy last week as Republican lawmakers and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton…
Hennepin County's Jeff Johnson to run again for governor

Hennepin County's Jeff Johnson to run again for governor

Jeff Johnson, the 2014 Republican nominee, made his announcement with a polished video via social media, promising to restore "power, opportunity and freedom" to Minnesotans.

DFLers rally at Capitol to protect pensions

Walz, Nolan, Ellison among those backing bill in Congress to shore up funds for retirees.
Minnesota liquor heir hopes to parlay business career into congressional bid

Minnesota liquor heir hopes to parlay business career into congressional bid

Dean Phillips, an heir to a Minnesota liquor fortune who later helped launch a successful gelato brand, said Monday he’s preparing to run for Congress…
A second look at former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's speech fuels speculation for his future

A second look at former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's speech fuels speculation for his future

On the surface, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s speech to the Dakota County Chamber of Commerce seemed assiduously apolitical and most certainly nonpartisan. He laid out…
Ex-Gov. Pawlenty talks tech, not politics, but speculation only grows

Ex-Gov. Pawlenty talks tech, not politics, but speculation only grows

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, now a highly paid lobbyist, says he's retired from politics. But his recent speech to the Dakota County Chamber of Commerce laid the groundwork for a return to public life if he decides to do so.
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