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Hot Dish Politics

Tracking Minnesota’s political scene and keeping you up-to-date on those elected to serve you

State Sen. Scott Dibble would run if Ellison steps down to serve as DNC chair

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison's offer to step down from his congressional seat if he's selected as the next chair of the national Democratic Party has already produced its first potential candidate to replace Ellison: state Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis.

Dibble confirmed Monday he would run if Ellison were elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, saying he would only do so if Ellison stepped down.

"If Keith decides to step away from Congress, I am prepared to and will run to fill his seat," Dibble said. "I am prepared to and will build on his outstanding work as a movement builder and generator of progressive ideas to improve people's lives. Until that times comes, I will continue to support Keith as my Congressman."

Ellison is vying for chair of the Democratic Party whose leadership is reeling from major electoral defeats last month. He is campaigning hard to convince enough voting members of the DNC to pick him as their next national leader. It's a time-consuming job as it means the public face for Democrats and leading fund-raising and strategy efforts for national elections.

Dibble praised Ellison's qualifications for the job, saying the national party "needs a new direction, with an emphasis on grassroots voter mobilization and expanding opportunities for everyone."

Just elected to a fifth term, Dibble is currently Senate Transportation Committee Chair, although he will join his DFL colleagues in the minority once the new Legislature starts next month. He also served one term in the Minnesota House.

He was legislative sponsor of several high profile bills that became law in recent years, including allowing same-sex marriage in Minnesota, an anti-bullying bill and the state's medical marijuana program.

Dayton, legislative leaders say they are close on possible special session deal

Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders on Friday set the parameters of a possible pre-Christmas special session to include tax cuts, a borrowing package for capital improvement projects around the state and financial assistance for many facing skyrocketing health insurance premiums next year.

Dayton met with legislators just hours after state budget officials reported a $1.4 billion budget surplus, which includes about $678 million left unspent in the last legislative session.

The tax and bonding bills are two leftover items from the last legislative session. While legislators approved the tax bill, Dayton vetoed it over a drafting error his office said would cost the state millions of dollars. The Legislature was unable to bridge disagreements over the bonding bill, which failed to pass by the midnight deadline of the session.

The health care problem is a recent one. Dayton and other legislators have been calling for financial relief to pay down expensive insurance premiums for the 125,000 who buy insurance on the individual market but make too much to qualify for federal subsidies.

Dayton and the caucus leaders appeared optimistic that they could strike a special session agreement in the coming days, but many details remain to be worked out.

"Everything moving forward is conditional on being able to resolve those details," Dayton said. House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said he's optimistic a deal can be struck soon. "I feel like I can see it, but we're not quite there yet."

Senate DFL leader Tom Bakk of Cook said he was pleased to see the size of the budget surplus, saying it made possible the special session negotiations.

Dayton said working groups would meet beginning Monday and conclude Wednesday. After that, political leaders will decide whether a special session will occur, likely on Dec. 20.