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Politics with Jennifer Brooks

Enjoying your new job, Chris Schmitter?

Good morning.

The mess at the Department of Human Services -- the state's largest, most complex agency -- got messier Monday with the resignation of Commissioner Tony Lourey, who had left the Senate to take a job he lobbied hard for. So that's two deputies and the commissioner resigning in less than a week. How much longer will DHS chief of staff Stacie Weeks last with a new commissioner? (By the way, how many DHS chiefs of staff have appeared in Brides mag?) This is also a crisis-management test for Gov. Tim Walz's chief of staff, Chris Schmitter.

The running assumption is that there's a bigger story here. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt kept referring to it as a "scandal," although it's unclear what exactly happened or why.

Observation at a news conference Monday: Walz was either purposely not told what is happening, feigned ignorance, or it's just the case that Lourey was in over his head, and we have another case of: Don't pick a lawmaker to run a big, complicated agency.

"I will take Commissioner Lourey at his word that he felt he was not the right person at this time to do that."

This doesn't really explain last week's resignations, which Walz waved away as coming from some differences of opinion about agency direction.

Pam Wheelock, one of those Minnesota fix-it people with experience in government, nonprofits and private sector, is the acting commissioner. Let's see if the two deputies ask to rescind their resignations.

The public has a right to know what has gone on there.

Here's today's story from me, Jessie Van Berkel and Chris Serres.

After receiving the worst of President Donald Trump's racist attacks Monday and over the weekend, Rep. Ilhan Omar hit back with the three other women of color he attacked, referring to “the bile and garbage that comes out of his mouth.” She also pointed out that Trump's entire 2016 campaign was about how terrible things had become in America, which pointed to the hypocrisy of Trump saying Omar and her colleagues shouldn't be allowed to criticize American policies at home and abroad. Patrick Condon and Jim Spencer with the story.

Will Trump's race-baiting work? Dave Weigel of the Washington Post weighs in (h/t The Torey Van Oot.)

Something everyone decided to forget for some reason is that Trump spent the final weeks of the midterms pivoting to an immigration message -- the caravan was coming and Democrats wouldn't stop it -- then lost the House and every Midwest race.

Trump's attacks will further entrench Omar, as her party -- including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- rally around her; she'll probably raise money off it, too. Which brings us to her fundraising haul -- solid although down sharply from her Q1, Torey Van Oot reports.

This is what the second tier feels like, Sen. Amy Klobuchar. She raised about $3.9M for her presidential campaign; the top earner, Pete Buttigieg, raised $24.8M.

H/t TVO, who tweets: Strong quarter for (Rep. Angie) Craig, with $500K+ raised and $700K COH (still has $200K in outstanding personal loans.)

H/t TVO, who sees a tweet from @brandforhouse in which he shares that Dan Feehan told a Nicollet County DFL picnic that he's running in CD1. No surprise there.

Boundary Water Action Fund announces some grasstops work in Iowa with the hiring of an Iowa state director, Michelle Bruggenthies, trying to get the Boundary Waters into the presidential conversation there.

Mike Lindell, the "MyPillow" guy, tells Sara Carter he's going to turn Minnesota red. Yet another hat tip to The Torey Van Oot.

Correspond: patrick.coolican@startribune.com.

Have a great day all!

-- J. Patrick Coolican

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