Staff Directory 137958973

Maya Rao

Reporter | Washington Bureau
Phone: 651-925-5043

Maya Rao covers the federal government for the Star Tribune and is based in Washington, D.C.


Rao wrote for The Press of Atlantic City and The Philadelphia Inquirer before moving to Minnesota in January 2012.
Recent content from Maya Rao
Democrats Dean Phillips and Angie Craig defeated GOP incumbent U.S. Reps. Erik Paulsen and Jason Lewis, respectively.

Minnesota is sending big freshman class to Congress

Minnesota's five new representatives are replacing members with 42 years of accumulated seniority and several influential committee assignments. "The more seniority you have, the bigger difference you're able to make," said retiring Rep. Rick Nolan.

Jim Hagedorn picks up Minnesota's First District for Republicans

Republican Jim Hagedorn narrowly defeated Democrat Dan Feehan in southern Minnesota's First Congressional District, declaring victory Wednesday morning after a close race that saw the…
Jim Hagedorn, GOP, is a candidate for Minnesota's First Congressional District seat

GOP's Jim Hagedorn wins Minnesota's First District seat on fourth try

Republican Jim Hagedorn was elected to Congress in southern Minnesota’s First District, defeating the DFL’s Dan Feehan in a fiercely contested race that was closely…
Rep. Collin Peterson

DFLer Peterson re-elected to U.S. House in Seventh District seat he's held since 1991

Longtime U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson on Tuesday won re-election over Republican Dave Hughes to represent a largely rural and right-of-center district that blankets much of…
Angie Craig spoke to supporters after winning the 2nd congressional district on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, at an election party for her at the Lone Oa

DFLer Craig unseats GOP's Lewis in Minnesota's Second District

Craig defeated the freshman congressman in the Second Congressional District after losing to him two years ago.
Republican Karin Housley, left, and Democrat Tina Smith

'Try to find common ground': Smith, Housley spar in their final debate

Rivals for U.S. Senate tackle tax cuts, health care, immigration.
Rep. Erik Paulsen and DFL challenger Dean Phillips squared off at a debate in August.

GOP tax cuts are campaign fodder in race between Erik Paulsen, Dean Phillips

Campaign 2018: GOP candidate is touting his work on the bill despite a mixed verdict in national polls.
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, left, the Democrat who represents Minnesota's Seventh Congressional District, and Dave Hughes, his Republican opponent.

Rep. Collin Peterson tries to hold on as GOP's Dave Hughes hopes to harness Trump support

Race for Minnesota's Seventh District not as hot as other Minnesota congressional contest, but strong Trump support leaves opening for GOP.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke with attendees of the Blacks in Tech Conference breakfast before speaking during the program in St. Paul, Minn., in Octo

Amy Klobuchar, favored in her own race, spreads money to other Dems

WASHINGTON – Even as she runs for a third term this year in Minnesota, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been spreading donations to Democratic…
Mounted Border Patrol agents ride along a newly fortified border wall structure Friday, Oct. 26, 2018, in Calexico, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

GOP ads raise immigration concerns in MN Congress races

In southern Minnesota's First District, Dan Feehan is the target of new ads.
Democrat Angie Craig, left, and Republican Jason Lewis, debated for the last time as they battle for Minnesota's Second Congressional District at the

Jason Lewis, Angie Craig spar one last time, fight for suburban support in U.S. House race

Jason Lewis touts tax cuts and Angie Craig warns of entitlement cuts to pay for deficit reduction during their debate in Rosemount.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was sworn into office on Oct. 8, as his family and President Donald Trump looked on.

Minnesota Poll: Divisions linger over Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh

Poll finds support among 57% of men and 42% of women.
Outside groups have spent $9.1 million in the Third District race between Democrat Dean Phillips, left, and Rep. Erik Paulsen, one of several Minnesot

Outside groups flood Minn. with $29M in four key House races

Minnesota sees more than $29M in political group cash for four House races that will help determine which party controls Congress next year.
Actor Samuel Jackson appears in a campaign ad for Minnesota's Angie Craig.

In campaign ad, Samuel L. Jackson scoops 'kitty treasure' for Angie Craig

It's one in a series of ads with Jackson doing household chores for Democratic candidates and sponsored by the national group Swing Left.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

Increasingly high-profile Klobuchar seeks third term in Senate

After a dozen years in the Senate, Klobuchar played part in the Brett Kavanaugh drama that pushed her further into the Washington spotlight.
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.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, followed by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., arrives at the chamber for a proced

Amy Klobuchar blasts Kavanaugh legal record, says Ford allegations changing views of sexual assault

Republicans muster slim majority to move to final debate on Kavanaugh nomination; Minnesota Democrats oppose.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the DFL candidate for attorney general, spoke at the Minnesota State Fair in August.

Allegation against Keith Ellison plays out against Kavanaugh controversy

Republicans charge hypocrisy in Democratic critiques of Brett Kavanaugh as Keith Ellison faces abuse allegation, which he denies.
The national battle for control of Congress runs right through Minnesota, and that means TV ads. The Second and Third District races have drawn a heav

Campaign ad wars now heating up on screens across Minnesota

State is at the epicenter of battle for control of Congress, with the Second and Third Districts under extreme focus.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) fought back tears as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepared to vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: 'Where is the bravery in this room?'

Minnesota Democrat criticizes quick push to confirm Kavanaugh as "not normal," asks Republicans what they're hiding.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., questions Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in

Sen. Amy Klobuchar spars with Kavanaugh over drinking and draws an apology

"You're asking about a blackout — I don't know, have you?" Kavanaugh retorted, as viewers in an overflow room gasped and groaned.
A new Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota Poll shows that a majority of likely voters disapprove of President Donald Trump's job performance.

President Trump's approval falls in new Minnesota Poll

But Republican and northern Minnesota voters still give him high marks.
Dave Hughes, the Republican opponent to U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, spoke at the Republican state convention in Duluth on June 1, 2018.

Peterson's opponent looks for opening in Trump-backing district

In the Seventh, longtime Democrat is facing a challenge from the right.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) holds up documents during the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Dona

Klobuchar joins Senate Democrats in pushing back on Kavanaugh

She cited an article he wrote for the Minnesota Law Review to question his views on presidential power.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., headed to a closed-door briefing to update lawmakers on cyberattacks on the U.S. election system, at the Capitol in Washi

Amy Klobuchar's Secure Elections Act stalls in the U.S. Senate

Some secretaries of state question audit requirements.

In rematch with Jason Lewis, Angie Craig seeks stronger connection with voters

Rival Jason Lewis still has more name recognition.
DFL Gubernatorial Candidate Tim Walz and his running mate Peggy Flanagan attended a DFL Unity press conference with Governor Mark Dayton and State Rep

Ellison faces mounting pressure over domestic violence claim

National Organization for Women calls for him to drop out of race for the Minnesota attorney general's race, while top DFL leaders say they still back him.
Rep. Keith Ellison spoke the the crowd on the stage at campaign party after winning the DFL nomination for Attorney General at Nomad World Pub in Minn

Democratic National Committee looking into Keith Ellison allegation

DNC Chairman Tom Perez told reporters while he was campaigning in Georgia that the party is "absolutely taking a careful look."
Rep. Ilhan Omar celebrated with her children after her primary victory.

Ilhan Omar rolls to victory in primary to replace Ellison in Congress

The Fifth District, which includes all of Minneapolis and several of its neighboring suburbs, has a long history of voting heavily Democratic.
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.
The DFL hopefuls for the Fifth Congressional District seat have had only two months to knock on doors and reach out to voters after Keith Ellison drop

With few policy differences, candidates in Minneapolis congressional primary look for ways to shine

Tuesday's DFL primary winner is the prohibitive favorite to succeed Rep. Keith Ellison in Washington.
From left, Sen. Tina Smith, Richard Painter, state Sen. Karin Housley.

Sen. Tina Smith, 4 challengers woo farmers at Farmfest

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and her four opponents took the stage together for the first time, voicing support for farmers struggling with reduced commodities prices and a trade war.
U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis at a press conference at the State Capitol. Lewis is dismissing concerns about newly surfaced audio of the former talk radio hos

Lewis again grapples with fallout from old on-air remarks

CNN has aired reports about sexist comments he made as a talk-show host.
Jamal Abdulahi

DFLers tout experience at heavily attended Fifth District forum

5th District hopefuls point out differences in debate.

Minnesotans in Congress worked on new workforce law

President Donald Trump signed the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act last week.
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, left, waves to the audience with Sen. Bernie Sanders, right, at a rally to give support for his attorney general bid at

'Medicare for All' proposal splits Minnesota Democrats

More than 60 House members launched a Medicare for All caucus last week in Washington. The issue offers fodder for Republican ads.
The Third Congressional District race between GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen, left, and Democrat Dean Phillips is shaping up as one of the most expensive 2018

Paulsen-Phillips race for Congress shaping up as one of most expensive in Minnesota

Minnesota's candidates are in some of the most competitive races in the country, raising at least $14 million so far, according to federal election filings.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen

Emmer quiet on Trump and Russia as Paulsen criticizes anew

Minnesota's three GOP congressmen respond — or not — to summit.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke to supporters from the stage after securing the party's endorsement during the DFL State Convention Friday.

Condemnations from Minnesota Dems in D.C. on Trump and Russia

Erik Paulsen, a Republican, called Trump's performance "embarrassing."
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen

GOP's Erik Paulsen, in first TV ad, highlights break with Trump

U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen used the first TV ad of his re-election campaign to highlight how he went against President Donald Trump in his opposition to mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh speaks to the crowd after U.S. President Donald Trump nominated him to the Supreme Court during a ceremony in the East Room of t

Minnesota politicos split by party over Kavanaugh pick for Supreme Court

Minnesota's two U.S. senators are joining their fellow Democrats in raising concerns about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, even as Republicans urge a quick confirmation for President Donald Trump's high court pick.

Minnesota lawmakers in D.C. hope to settle farm bill soon

Rep. Collin Peterson says he's out of the loop after a falling-out over GOP food-stamp policy.
Rep. Ilhan Omar listened as State Sen. Patricia Torres Ray spoke. After the first ballot put State Sen. Patricia Torres Ray far behind Rep. Ilhan Omar

DFL choice in 5th District: Experience vs. symbolism

The suddenly-open slot has sparked a debate over how much and what kind of experience matters in a politically volatile era in which many party activists are looking, most of all, for a fighter.
Minnesota's U.S. Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar in January.

Minnesota's Democratic senators say Supreme Court appointment should wait

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel that will get the first chance to vet the nominee.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon

Minn. voting chief urges U.S. senators to shore up election security

Secretary of State Simon urges U.S. senators to stay "ahead of the bad guys."
U.S. Senate candidate Richard Painter appears in his "dumpster fire" ad.

Richard Painter's 'dumpster fire' ad is the talk of social media

Painter's video is drawing a lot of attention on social media, with reactions spanning praise to befuddlement.
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith spoke at the DFL State Convention in June. Smith has gotten behind a land swap to accomodate construction of a copper-nickel mine

Sen. Tina Smith gets behind PolyMet land exchange

Smith is sponsoring a Senate measure to codify a land exchange to make way for PolyMet Mining's long-in-the-works project.
State Sen. Bobby Joe Champion was interviewed by journalists after he joined the race for the congressional seat Keith Ellison is leaving. He subseque

State Sen. Bobby Joe Champion suspends campaign for Ellison's congressional seat

WASHINGTON – State Sen. Bobby Joe Champion on Monday suspended his campaign to succeed U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison in Congress, pleading with fellow DFLers…
State Rep. Ilhan Omar, shown filing to run for the congressional seat that Rep. Keith Ellison is leaving, got backing from Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday.

DFL endorsing convention adds to scramble for Rep. Ellison seat

The party announced the special convention, set for June 17 in Minneapolis, giving the hopefuls just over a week to win over activists and donors.
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.
Minnesota attorney general Lori Swanson talked with delegates during the DFL State Convention Friday.

Attorney General Lori Swanson loses DFL endorsement

Swanson did not immediately reveal whether she plans to run in the DFL primary in August against party endorsee Matt Pelikan.
U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis sponsored a juvenile justice measure and is now focusing on adults.

U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis joins bipartisan push for criminal justice reform

The Minnesota Republican is advocating changes to federal law that would favor rehabilitation over imprisonment for first-time, nonviolent offenders — particularly juveniles — and reduce exploding incarceration budgets.
Sen. Tina Smith, shown in January.

Sen. Tina Smith touts Planned Parenthood past in taking on Trump plan

Smith and Sen. Patty Murray denounced the proposal to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal family planning money.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

N.Y. Sen. Gillibrand says she couldn't stay silent about Franken conduct

The New York senator defended her decision at a forum on women in politics.
“I just feel it’s time to … make sure that we can have votes on bipartisan bills,” said Rep. Erik Paulsen, shown in 2016.

Paulsen joins effort to force House vote on Dreamers

The Minnesota Republican joined a group of 20 fellow Republicans in defiance of House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Steve Carlson, with Carlson Farms, harvested soybeans in his combine near Welch, Minn. in 2017.

Vows to try again after farm bill is voted down in the U.S. House

Conservative House members joined Democrats in rejecting the nearly $870 billion bill.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, shown in 2016, opposed the legislation citing concerns about how the government would pay for it in the long run — and how it wo

Walz says U.S. House veterans' health care bill causes 'long-term problems'

The VA Mission Act, a major overhaul of veterans health care, passed 347-70 with no Republicans voting against it.

National Democrats to give Minnesota DFL $100,000

It's aimed at increasing outreach to rural communities and small towns.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, in a 2016 Star Tribune file photo.

Rep. Erik Paulsen gets behind gun violence measure in Congress

He is joining a bipartisan effort to encourage states to pass laws that let law enforcement take firearms from people determined to be a danger to themselves or others.
Minnesota sample identification card and drivers license. This is a sample provided by the Minnesota department of Public Safety

Minnesota says licenses will work for flights through 2020

Gov. Mark Dayton and state lawmakers finally approved a process last year to get Minnesota in full compliance, and the state will start issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses this October.
Pete Stauber

GOP sees hope for grabbing northeastern Minn. congressional seat

DFL's inability to endorse seen as aiding Pete Stauber's chances.
House Budget Committee member Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Minn.

Rep. Jason Lewis spending big on U.S. House mailers, communications

The first-term Republican spent more on taxpayer-funded mass mailing and communications last year than any other member of the Minnesota delegation.
Campaigners for the advocacy group Avaaz held a banner in front of 100 cardboard cutouts of the Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg earlier this

Klobuchar wants 'consumer bill of rights' for Facebook users

Legislation a response to privacy breaches, election disruption revelations.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, a Democrat, took even close supporters by surprise when he announced in February that he would not run again for Congress.

Crowded DFL field in northeastern Minnesota race to succeed Rep. Rick Nolan

Congressional seat held by Democrat Rick Nolan is a top target for Republicans.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar queries Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg on privacy

Klobuchar suggested a rule that would require Facebook to notify its users of a breach within 72 hours.
Rep Collin Peterson, seen on a tour of Busch Agricultural Resources in Moorhead, Minn.

Rep. Peterson in hot seat as farm bill talks stall in Congress

As Congress prepares to return from its spring recess, Peterson questioned whether a new farm bill will even be in place before the old one expires on Sept. 30.
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison listened during a forum on the future of the Democratic Party in Denver in December 2016.

Busy but restless, Ellison juggles House seat with political duties

Battling President Trump both in Congress and as a national party leader, he's considered changing political jobs as well.
Chris Jennings of Minneapolis North High school joined other students from Minnesota that attended the March For Our Lives rally Saturday in Washingto

Minnesotans add passion, voices to D.C. march on gun control

Students from many backgrounds joined together as 800,000 rallied for stricter gun control as part of the March for Our Lives event.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar pushed Tuesday for Facebook’s top leaders to appear before Congress to account for a massive breach of personal data.

Klobuchar wants answers from Facebook CEO Zuckerberg on breach

The Minnesota Democrat, in seeking Facebook CEO's testimony, says she wants assurances that user data is safe.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, left, accompanied by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, right, speaks during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, &

Feds route millions to aging Minnesota electrical lines

WASHINGTON – As electrical systems age and decline in northwestern Minnesota, Runestone Electric Association is preparing to upgrade 180 miles of line and build…
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer said farmers across the country are facing a “suicide crisis.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer seeks mental health services for farmers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer is sponsoring legislation to expand access to mental health services for farmers. “Farmers in Minnesota and across America…
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen

In tough election year, Paulsen gets boost from economic panel

Paulsen's January appointment to the U.S. Joint Economic Committee by House Speaker Paul Ryan raises his profile in what promises to be a tough election year.
Rep. Jason Metsa, DFL-Virginia, at a February hearing of the House Taxes Committee. Metsa announced Thursday that he is running for Congress.

DFL state Rep. Jason Metsa running for U.S. House from northern Minnesota

Metsa is latest DFLer to get into race to defend northeastern Minnesota swing seat held by retiring U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan
Andy Cilek stands outside of the Supreme Court, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, in Washington, where a Minnesota law that bars residents from wearing politi

High court hears case of Minn. banning political apparel at poll locations

Lawsuit challenges Minnesota's restriction on voters wearing political messages to polling places on First Amendment grounds.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, left, with his daughter Katherine.

Nolan says family concerns largely drove retirement decision

He says it's time to "give something back to my family."
EDITOR'S NOTE: We are changing commenting systems. As part of this transition, beginning Thursday the system will not be available. We expect to resume commenting service on Sunday, Nov. 18.
More from Star Tribune