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Patricia Lopez

Political Editor | State and national politics
phone: 651-2673-7028, cell: 612-599-2654
Patricia Lopez is the Star Tribune’s political editor, supervising coverage for state and national politics. Lopez started at the Star Tribune in 1992, as Minneapolis City Hall reporter. She moved to the state Capitol in 1994. Before becoming political editor, Lopez was the Star Tribune’s chief political reporter, covering the governor, U.S. Senate races and the state budget.
Recent content from Patricia Lopez
It's prime time for the versatile egg

It's prime time for the versatile egg

Whether it's spring brunch or Easter breakfast, the egg suits the season far beyond scrambled and poached.
Pawlenty's eager to veto DFL taxes

Pawlenty's eager to veto DFL taxes

The Senate and House passed a plan that includes a $435 million tax increase, and there's the rub.
Republicans: Huckabee surges to a critical win

Republicans: Huckabee surges to a critical win

Mike Huckabee scored an impressive victory, capping one of the most remarkable come-from-nowhere triumphs in recent history.
Attorney Eric Magnuson is named new chief justice

Attorney Eric Magnuson is named new chief justice

The prominent appellate lawyer has led the judicial selection commission for Gov. Pawlenty. He will be the first person who is not a justice to take the top job in decades.
Pawlenty exhorts GOP to restore optimism of Reagan era

Pawlenty exhorts GOP to restore optimism of Reagan era

Speaking at the state party's convention, the governor said people deserve leaders "who are hopeful, optimistic, decent" and called upon Republicans to provide that leadership. Beforehand, he again demurred on talk of his vice presidential prospects.
Recount: Results certified, Franken up, but no senator yet

Recount: Results certified, Franken up, but no senator yet

Al Franken's 225-vote lead was unanimously certified by the state Canvassing Board, but Norm Coleman's planned court challenge will keep Franken from taking his seat when the Senate convenes today.
Pawlenty tests out national message

Pawlenty tests out national message

Tim Pawlenty is on the road again, speaking to GOP groups as he tries to revitalize his party and his presidential prospects.
The wait is agonizing for Coleman, Franken

The wait is agonizing for Coleman, Franken

The candidates and their staffs are keeping their phones close by because they know the ruling could come any day now, ending a seven-month odyssey.

Unallotment scraps state campaign funding program

Common Cause Minnesota is looking at the elimination of the Political Contribution Refund program as a way to go to court over Gov. Pawlenty's plan to balance the budget.

Stiff DFL resistance to Pawlenty cuts

Administration officials came under sharp questioning from DFL legislators over unallotment plans.

Wide-open field for governor in 2010

Now that Tim Pawlenty has said he won't seek a third term, here's info to help you through the dust kicked up by all the people stepping in.

Ritchie is sued over voter-registration records

A group says that updates to Minnesota's registration system are lacking and that '08 vote totals exceed voters in the system by 406,000.
Legislature: It's over -- No deal

Legislature: It's over -- No deal

Working to a truly bitter end, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned at midnight Monday, following a final gesture of defiance toward Gov. Tim Pawlenty, as the DFL-led House and Senate passed a massive $2.7 billion bill that would wipe out the state's deficit through a $1 billion tax increase and a one-time shift.

House sustains Pawlenty veto of health care program

A DFL effort to override the governor's line-item veto of $381 million in 2010 funding for the program for childless adults fell three votes short tonight. Meanwhile, Monday's deadline for legislative adjournment is looming.

Pawlenty offers spending cut, accounting shift

In a closed-door meeting with top legislators on Saturday morning, Gov. Tim Pawlenty offered to slice another $1.2 billion from the state spending and adopt a $1.8 billion accounting shift proposed by the House as a way to close the state's budget gap and end the session on time.

Gov. Pawlenty puts out alternative to $1 billion tax increase

In what he said was "the spirit of compromise," Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Monday put out his own alternative to a $1 billion tax increase he's vetoed that would balance the state's budget and close out the session.

DFLers take aim at Pawlenty opposition to tax increases

As the May 18 adjournment of an exceptionally tense, high-stakes session looms, the DFLers who control the Minnesota House and Senate will try this week to mount a counteroffensive against the governor.

Friday: DFLers bet on $1 billion tax increase

The proposal won House and Senate approval, but Pawlenty vowed to reject it quickly.

DFL rams through a tax bill - of blanks

Republicans responded to the work-in-progress bill with harsh criticism.

Minnesota Poll: Don't tax me, tax my neighbor

Most Minnesotans would offer up the wallets of richer folks to help solve the state's budget woes. The poll also found that Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s approval rating is lower than it has ever been.

Carey will step down as GOP chair

The Shoreview businessman, noting a tough political climate for Republicans across the U.S., said, "Sometimes, maybe it's best for the cause to have a fresh face out there."

Bill to raise Minn. income tax just gets by in Senate

The vote follows a bitter, long debate. A similar measure is in the House, but Gov. Pawlenty has vowed he'll veto any tax increase.

Rep. Wagenius is bruised but OK after crash

The Minneapolis DFLer's car was totaled by a suspected drunken driver after a late-night session at the Capitol.

Entenza announces bid for governor in '10

The former DFL House minority leader says he will run on issues of clean energy and job growth.
House tax bill sets up a 3-way battle

House tax bill sets up a 3-way battle

The plan from majority Democrats draws ire of Pawlenty aide, Senate DFL.
Time nears for Pawlenty to cast his vote

Time nears for Pawlenty to cast his vote

An election certificate is the key prize in the Minnesota Senate race -- but only if the governor signs it.

One justice gave to Coleman, another to Wellstone

The campaign donations by the two Supreme Court members predated their appointment to the bench.

Senate recount down to 387 ballots that will be opened and counted today

As the three-judge panel nears a decision, both sides are preparing for the next step.

DFL dilemma: Education vs. health care

As the financial pie shrinks, the Legislature's DFL majority is battling itself over what must be reduced.

Sex Offender Program needs $16M

Minnesota's controversial Sex Offender Program will run out of money next month unless a bill to cover a $16 million shortfall gets quick action in the state Senate.

House DFLers propose $1.5 billion in tax increases to close budget gap

With three proposals on the table, legislators and Gov. Pawlenty now can start negotiating.

House DFL offers bold tax proposal

The revenue-neutral plan would limit a variety of deductions and credits used by many Minnesota families and businesses.

Schools face a nearly $1 billion cut in DFL proposal

The Senate plan also includes a 7% budget cut that slices nearly across the board. Reaction made for unusual allies.

Minnesota's budget deficit: $4.57B

With the $1.3 billion in federal help, the state still has a $4.57 billion spending gap for 2010-11.

In St. Paul, capitol crowd braces for wild budget ride

"This is not a roller coaster we're on, it's a corkscrew or one of those crazy upside-down rides where everybody gets sick," said House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis.
Showdown could leave our courts in chaos

Showdown could leave our courts in chaos

As Gov. Pawlenty looks to cut budgets, the chief justice he appointed is playing hardball over the justice system's future.
So, how would you fix Minnesota?

So, how would you fix Minnesota?

That's what we -- and legislators -- asked Thursday of the people in St. Cloud.

Expand sales tax, panel advises

Pawlenty's reaction is said to be cool, and legislators are baffled by proposal to repeal corporate tax.

Stimulus plan could mean $3B for Minn.

It would put money into the state budget and, according to the White House, retain or create up to 66,000 jobs here.
Minnesota's red ink: $7 billion?

Minnesota's red ink: $7 billion?

Pawlenty warns that next month's economic forecast could show a deficit of $6 billion, or even $7 billion.

Corporate tax: A stinker that pays

Many share Gov. Tim Pawlenty's dislike of business taxes, but his plan to halve them raises questions: Will jobs be created? How will we make up the lost money?
Shrinking Minnesota budget would be first since '86

Shrinking Minnesota budget would be first since '86

Pawlenty says state must do more than erase $4.8 billion deficit, but some will see a heavy cost.

Obama plan might mean big boost for pinched Minnesota

The federal stimulus could provide a key infusion of cash as Minnesota lawmakers try to tackle the $4.8 billion deficit.
Pawlenty's deficit plan: Freeze, cut

Pawlenty's deficit plan: Freeze, cut

Gov. Tim Pawlenty's State of the State address set the stage for a clash of wills with a heavily DFL-controlled Legislature.

Pawlenty expected to call for cuts in every corner

When he gives his State of the State address, he will offer up a fiscally Spartan vision.

Franken tries to sidestep courts

He asks Pawlenty, Ritchie to certify him as winner, but citing state law, they decline.
Cutting costs may have had own price

Cutting costs may have had own price

Local ballot counting in the Senate recount saved the state $2 million, but varying standards is a key argument in the court case.
A fiscal fitness test

A fiscal fitness test

How Gov. Tim Pawlenty stands up to the challenge of a $5.2 billion state budget deficit will largely shape his political future.

Pawlenty's first slice: $271 million

The governor's emergency budget cuts hit health care, local governments and higher education hard -- and more is to come.

Pawlenty plans to cut funds for local governments

Gov. Tim Pawlenty will cut money for cities and counties and for human services to make up for a $426 million short-term deficit.
Minnesota is $5.2 billion in the hole

Minnesota is $5.2 billion in the hole

Painful cuts and even a governmental overhaul are in the offing. Friday morning, Gov. Pawlenty and legislators will begin to take on the staggering deficit.

How bad is Minnesota's budget deficit? Mega-bad

Today's two-year projection could be as high as $6 billion; "every spending program, every tax has to be on the table." The news will be delivered at an 11:15 a.m. press conference.
Rejected absentee votes may decide it

Rejected absentee votes may decide it

Even as the U.S. Senate race recount forged ahead, both sides are massing their troops in the next battle over piles of disputed ballots.

How many ways can voting go wrong?

Some voters whose absentee ballots were rejected are stunned to find out what happened.
Recount: Norm Coleman's lead over Al Franken shrinks

Recount: Norm Coleman's lead over Al Franken shrinks

With about 18% of the vote recounted, Coleman still leads Franken -- but by only 174 votes. Franken's gain owed much to a swing of 23 votes in the Democratic stronghold of St. Louis County.
Coleman leads Franken by 206 votes

Coleman leads Franken by 206 votes

The Coleman and Franken campaigns traded shots Monday as counties completed the process of certifying their vote tallies and officials prepared to start recounting nearly 3 million ballots in the U.S. Senate race.

Franken seeks names of rejected voters

The DFLer hopes to force counties across the state to turn over the lists of rejected absentee voters who, if later found eligible, could tip the balance in the closest Senate race in the country.

Ready, set...recount

Local officials will be working in the 87 counties under the scrutiny of top lawyers brought in by candidates Norm Coleman and Al Franken.

Recount to stretch into mid-December

The secretary of state appointed four judges to certify Senate election and rule on any disputes; the recount starts Wednesday.
Pawlenty unveils package of tax breaks

Pawlenty unveils package of tax breaks

Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed what he called the "mother lode of tax breaks" to companies that create so-called green jobs in the burgeoning field of renewable energy.
Tension escalates as recount fluctuates

Tension escalates as recount fluctuates

As Norm Coleman's lead over Al Franken was cut to 221 votes, charges flew as fast as the tally changed.
Recount: The Coleman-Franken brawl drags on

Recount: The Coleman-Franken brawl drags on

Sen. Norm Coleman's lead over challenger Al Franken in the U.S. Senate race narrowed even more, guaranteeing a recount that could stretch well into next month.
Minnesotans try to sort out the lessons of '08

Minnesotans try to sort out the lessons of '08

Republicans take some solace in blocking a veto-proof state House majority, while the Obama triumph should give Minnesota more influence in the new Congress.

Senate race 100% counted: Coleman on top

With 100 percent of the 4,130 precincts reporting, Sen. Norm Coleman had an unofficial margin of several hundred votes out of nearly 2.9 million cast. Challenger Al Franken said this morning he would exercise his right to a recount.
Final U.S. Senate debate a punishing, verbal slugfest

Final U.S. Senate debate a punishing, verbal slugfest

Franken, Coleman and Barkley blasted one another as audience members cheered, booed, hissed and even catcalled.
Coleman, Franken hip deep in fracas

Coleman, Franken hip deep in fracas

Norm Coleman accused Al Franken of being connected to a suit involving his wife. Franken denied it.
Split decisions could be key to election

Split decisions could be key to election

Voters who cross party lines on the same ballot could hold the key to a race's outcome.

Obama, Coleman lead in new state poll

The St. Cloud State survey has the White House race tight and the Senate incumbent moving ahead of Franken.
6 Minnesota politicians' homes defaced

6 Minnesota politicians' homes defaced

Vandals struck the garages and homes of six Minnesota members of Congress, spray-painting graffiti that called for them to resign and included a biblical reference to "Psalm 2."
Al Franken: On a serious mission

Al Franken: On a serious mission

From comedian to candidate. From satire to public policy. It's a difficult leap, but Al Franken is determined to make it.
Coleman withdraws all negative ads

Coleman withdraws all negative ads

He says that during the financial crisis, instead of adding to the "negativity," politics should "lift people up with hope." His opponents expressed skepticism.
U.S. Senate candidates spar in first of five meetings

U.S. Senate candidates spar in first of five meetings

Dean Barkley got in some of the hardest shots of the night, Norm Coleman defended his six-year career in the Senate and Al Franken linked Coleman's votes to campaign donations.

Franni Franken gets personal in ad

Al Franken's wife talks about her alcoholism in an ad that seeks to humanize him and counter the GOP image of Franken as too ill-tempered to serve in the Senate.

Franken opposes bailout bill

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken had harsh words for the economic rescue bill that passed the Senate on Wednesday night, calling it a "sacrifice at the altar of financial mismanagement" and a "terrible end to a terrible presidency."

Gore warmly endorses Franken

The former vice president lavished praise on the former entertainer, but Rep. Jim Oberstar urged Franken to "disown" the Playboy satire that has lately dogged him.
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