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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
Attorney General Lori Swanson continues to wait — at what cost?

Attorney General Lori Swanson continues to wait — at what cost?

For months observers have waited for her to announce a run for governor.
Minnesotans could face big state tax hikes after fed changes

Minnesotans could face big state tax hikes after fed changes

Minnesota is one of a few states that base state taxes on an income figure plucked from the federal filing called "federal taxable income."
High-stakes debate coming to Minnesota Legislature after federal tax changes

High-stakes debate coming to Minnesota Legislature after federal tax changes

If lawmakers do nothing, a complex maze awaits both tax collectors and taxpayers.
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer seems like a safe bet to stay put

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer seems like a safe bet to stay put

A recent report in the Washington, D.C., publication Roll Call speculated about potential Republican candidates in the special Senate race to replace Al Franken and…
Lt. Gov. Fischbach will decline pay, continue in Minn. Senate

Lt. Gov. Fischbach will decline pay, continue in Minn. Senate

By trying to remain in the Senate, Fischbach, a Republican, is helping her party maintain its narrow majority status.
Bachmann says she's considering run this year for U.S. Senate

Bachmann says she's considering run this year for U.S. Senate

Former U.S. House member Michele Bachmann said on a religious TV program that she is considering running for the U.S. Senate seat Al Franken is vacating.
New year to bring more surprises in Minnesota politics

New year to bring more surprises in Minnesota politics

It was a wild year in Minnesota politics. We lost a U.S. senator in Al Franken, who resigned under the duress of sexual harassment allegations,…
Was MNsure's help line hacked in 2016? That's still unsolved, for now

Was MNsure's help line hacked in 2016? That's still unsolved, for now

Since Gov. Dayton announced the IT division found that automated systems were flooding phone lines, Minnesotans have heard nothing more.
St. Paul Park Republican traveled an unusual path to politics

St. Paul Park Republican traveled an unusual path to politics

Keith Franke wears a tiny earring in his left ear, collects comic books and spent a decade riding his bike everywhere because he lost his…
Which way will Tim Pawlenty go in 2018?

Which way will Tim Pawlenty go in 2018?

Anyone who thinks the former governor is a done deal for getting in the 2018 U.S. Senate race to take on Tina Smith is mistaken, a GOP source said.
Swanson opinion adds to fray in battle over Minn. Senate control

Swanson opinion adds to fray in battle over Minn. Senate control

Michelle Fischbach cannot serve in the Senate while also being lieutenant governor, the attorney general says. The Republican Fischbach says she's doing both.
Race for Sen. Franken's seat heats up even before he's gone

Race for Sen. Franken's seat heats up even before he's gone

Tina Smith hasn't had a chance to take over Al Franken's Senate seat yet, but she already has a GOP challenger. State Sen. Karin Housley announced she's running.
Tough work ahead for Tina Smith – on the Hill and at home

Tough work ahead for Tina Smith – on the Hill and at home

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith’s political connections and savvy quickly united Minnesota’s ideologically and geographically diverse DFL Party behind her as Al Franken’s replacement in the…
GOP needs to start recruiting for downballot races

GOP needs to start recruiting for downballot races

Julie Blaha, former math teacher and current secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, announced recently that she would run for state auditor. That makes three DFL candidates…
Dayton picks Lt. Gov. Tina Smith for Franken's Senate seat

Dayton picks Lt. Gov. Tina Smith for Franken's Senate seat

Sen. Al Franken, facing accusations of sexual harassment, said last week that he would resign "in the coming weeks." Smith would be up for election next November.
Rep. Keith Ellison won't run for U.S. Senate in 2018

Rep. Keith Ellison won't run for U.S. Senate in 2018

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison will not run in Minnesota’s special U.S. Senate election in 2018, he said in a statement. Ellison, a Democrat, earlier had…
Sources: Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to be named to replace Al Franken

Sources: Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to be named to replace Al Franken

Two high-level Democratic sources say the governor will appoint Smith as Minnesota's next U.S. senator, and that she will run for the seat in a 2018 special election.
Changes to sexual harassment policy proposed in Minnesota House

Changes to sexual harassment policy proposed in Minnesota House

The speedy investigative process, proposed by Republicans and DFLers, would allow confidentiality for accusers.
2018 race for Franken seat attracts interest, sets up shift

2018 race for Franken seat attracts interest, sets up shift

The senator's exit doubles the national stakes for the 2018 election in Minnesota.
GOP hits Hortman outside her district

GOP hits Hortman outside her district

The GOP-aligned Minnesota Jobs Coalition — House GOP chief of staff Ben Golnik’s old shop — sent out a nasty mailer on House DFL Minority…
Gov. Mark Dayton likely to tap Lt. Gov. Tina Smith as Franken replacement

Gov. Mark Dayton likely to tap Lt. Gov. Tina Smith as Franken replacement

Franken resignation, expected Thursday, would set off musical chairs in Minnesota politics, queue up epic election cycle in 2018.
What you need to know about Al Franken and what comes next

What you need to know about Al Franken and what comes next

It's Pearl Harbor day and now a day that will go down in infamy in Minnesota history, with Sen. Al Franken expected to resign this morning.
Sen. Al Franken will announce plans on Senate floor at 10:45 a.m.

Sen. Al Franken will announce plans on Senate floor at 10:45 a.m.

The Minnesota senator, who called the latest anonymous accusation "preposterous," is set to speak about his future. It comes after Democratic leaders united Wednesday to tell him it was time to go.
A woman running for governor might be just what Minnesota GOP needs

A woman running for governor might be just what Minnesota GOP needs

Mary Giuliani Stephens, the Republican mayor of Woodbury, announced last week at a well-attended kickoff that she’s running for governor. Despite a little understandable nervousness,…
Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens announces run for governor

Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens announces run for governor

A newcomer to state politics, Giuliani Stephens pitches experience as mayor of fast-growing suburb.
Fierce race takes shape for open state Senate seat

Fierce race takes shape for open state Senate seat

GOP and DFL highly motivated to claim Sen. Dan Schoen's spot.
Special elections, governor's race, Franken's big problem

Special elections, governor's race, Franken's big problem

Gov. Mark Dayton is indicating he will call two special elections before the Legislature convenes Feb. 20.
What's next move at Capitol after 2 lawmakers step down?

What's next move at Capitol after 2 lawmakers step down?

Legislators consider ways to put a stop to harassment.
Schoen lawyer: Senator 'never meant to sexually harass anybody'

Schoen lawyer: Senator 'never meant to sexually harass anybody'

Attorney Paul Rogosheske presented the DFL state senator's resignation letter, but he said Schoen never sexually harassed anyone intentionally and suggested that the claims were politically motivated.
Rep. Cornish, Sen. Schoen to resign after harassment claims

Rep. Cornish, Sen. Schoen to resign after harassment claims

Two Minnesota lawmakers announce they will resign on same day following harassment allegations that reverberated at State Capitol.
State Rep. Tony Cornish to resign after harassment claims

State Rep. Tony Cornish to resign after harassment claims

Republican state representative from southern Minnesota faced allegations from a fellow lawmaker and a lobbyist. Sarah Walker steps forward to say she's the lobbyist.
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.
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