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Michael Brodkorb

Minnesota politics and beyond.

Thank you all for reading

About two years ago, I was approached by the Star Tribune and asked if I would be interested in participating in a new online experiment they were trying, called Your Voices.  The Your Voices section would feature bloggers from across Minnesota writing about their experiences and provide a different perspective and added content to the Star Tribune's digital site.

As you are probably aware, the news industry is continuing to go through a series of changes as it attempts to reinvent itself to deal with the decline of print and the rise of online. 

I have been a blogger for many years, and had been working on my own site, politics.mn, and had some very good success at finding an audience for it.  Still, the opportunity to showcase my content on a site with the reach of the Star Tribune was appealing, so I was excited to begin this new experiment. 

The contract I had with the Star Tribune allowed me to write about any topic I wished, and for the most part, that was politics. My first post was about Tom Emmer, who was running for Congress in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District. My final posts were from an interview this week with Governor Mark Dayton

Then, through a quirk of fate, I began reporting on the case of two missing girls from Lakeville, Samantha and Gianna Rucki, which happened to exist at the intersection of politics and public interest. Michelle MacDonald, who was an attorney involved in the case was a candidate for MN Supreme Court in 2014, and I had covered that race.

The contacts I had made in the political world ended up being very helpful in generating leads on the Rucki case. Eventually, the girls were found and reunited with their father. The work I did on the Rucki case was the most personally satisfying work I have done in my life. 

I am incredibly grateful that I was able to participate in this experiment, but like all experiments it has to come to an end at some point. 

I have a profound sense of appreciation and loyalty for the Star Tribune, as they were willing to attach themselves to my name when others wouldn't. It was an amazing opportunity, I learned a lot, and I believe I made the most of it. The staff at the Star Tribune are a tremendously talented group, and they produce a quality news product everyday. 

I would like to specifically thank Terry Sauer, Christy DeSmith, Pat Lopez, and Baird Helgeson for their guidance and assistance. 

Over the last two years, I wrote over 200 posts for the Star Tribune. Thank you to those who read my posts and left a thoughtful comment of praise, or critique. 

I don’t have a specific announcement about my next writing project, other than to encourage you to visit politics.mn in the coming days and weeks, and also to following me on Medium and Twitter.  

There are many stories still to tell and I look forward to sharing them with you all. 

In his last years in public office, Dayton plans to leave nothing on the table



[Note: I interviewed Governor Mark Dayton late yesterday afternoon at the Governor's Residence in St. Paul. I published a series of posts today about my interview with Governor Dayton. Click here for my first post and here for my second post.]

During my interview with Governor Mark Dayton at the Governor's Residence, I was reminded of my first post for the Star Tribune which was with Dayton's opponent for governor in 2010, Tom Emmer.

In 2010, I served as the Deputy Chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota and one of my responsibilities was to help Emmer in his election against Dayton. Dayton defeated Emmer in 2010 by less than 10,000, but in 2014, Dayton became the first candidate for governor to win with over 50 percent of the vote in 20 years.  

As I continued my interview with Dayton, I thought about all of the press conferences during the 2010 race for governor where I publicly questioned Dayton's judgment and ability to serve as governor.

In retrospect, I wasn't in any position to question Dayton's ability to serve. 

By every reasonable political measurement, Dayton has been successful during his time as governor. This concept was unimaginable to a cocky Republican party operative, who believed Dayton's policies would be disastrous to Minnesota. 

But as I prepared for my interview with Dayton, I reviewed both the old press releases and videos from the 2010 campaign and compared them with Dayton's media clippings during his time as governor. 

In a question about his time as governor, I reviewed Dayton's electoral victories over the past three decades and I commented that he seemed "hardwired" to be successful as governor. Dayton politely said he did not agree with my description, but shared a personal story which explained his approach to serving as governor.  

Dayton told a story about advice he received from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy in the late 1980's during a visit by Dayton to Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. A few years earlier, Dayton had lost his first campaign for the U.S. Senate when he was defeated by U.S. Senator David Durenberger in 1982.

Kennedy told Dayton, "you've got to persevere," adding, "there is no guarantee of success, but a prerequisite for success is to just persevere." 

"I'm a work horse kind of politician, I'm not a show horse," said Dayton who added, "I've worked hard and persevered to get where I am." Dayton quickly added, "but it's not enough to get there, it's what you can accomplish."

As he talked about his final years in office as governor, Dayton showed the strength and enthusiasm of a politician who is just starting their first days in public office, saying he plans on "leaving nothing on the table."

At that moment, I realized that six years after the 2010 elections, Minnesota is doing well with Tom Emmer serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District and with Mark Dayton serving as Governor of Minnesota.

Picture source: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune