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Hot Dish Politics

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

Morning Hot Dish newsletter

Solving the Mille Lacs walleye crisis

Good morning. Another beautiful day. Here’s an idea: If enough of you go to Lake Mille Lacs and spend some money, maybe we won’t have to do a special session to save the tourism business there.

Gov. Mark Dayton said it’s government’s job to help people in urgent need who are in their predicament through no fault of their own, so back to session we go to give 100 tourism related businesses loans, tax abatements and more advertising to help shore them up in the walleye crisis. I asked him during the news conference if state government would step up for struggling newspapers. His response: "I'll propose a ban on gill netting of journalists, if that helps."

Here’s the story. And some debate on the op-ed page.

Dayton is headed to the region Friday. Today he’s with staff and commissioners and then at a nurses association BBQ to celebrate 50 years of Medicare. (Thanks, YouTube: Reagan on Medicare.)

Standardized test scores were stagnant this year, with the achievement gap persistent. Look for this to be an issue next year, or one would hope anyway.

All your lion-killing Bloomington dentist news.

Dan Browning reports the Chamber will lobby to stop disability access lawsuits whose only purpose, they charge, are plaintiff attorney fees.

Note the back-and-forth: Legal Aid says restraints and seclusion still being used improperly at the St. Peter state hospital, Chris Serres reports.

Grassley has a pork problem.

Jeff Johnson will chair the Rubio campaign here.

Clinton to the Benghazi committee on the Hill in October. (Prediction: The emails are the Whitewater of her presidency, if she has one.)

Do you follow @dick_nixon on Twitter? Well you should. The guy is spot on and often offers the most trenchant political commentary around, and in real time. Turns out the man doing the likeness is a playwright who spent years going through the tapes to master the Nixon voice and worldview. And he’s done it. Great profile in the Post. (By the way his candidate is Kasich.)

I knew I was missing something lately: Nate Silver’s analysis. Fret not, Republicans, Silver argues (as usual, with plenty of data) that Trump isn’t actually that popular despite the recent jump in the polls. He has a strong coterie of passionate admirers (20 percent, and many or most are low-information voters) but no one else likes him. Silver likens him to the band Nickelback. That seems about right in so many ways.

The Koch brothers wanna duplicate the Obama ground game for the right.

The Sanders campaign said 100,000 turned out for house parties last night. That’s now his army of volunteers.

Jeff Johnson named Minnesota state chairman of Rubio for president

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson endorsed Marco Rubio for president on Wednesday and will be Minnesota state chairman for the Florida senator's presidential campaign. 

Johnson was the Republican candidate for governor last year, but lost to Gov. Mark Dayton. The Plymouth resident is also a former member of the Republican National Committee.

Johnson told the Star Tribune that he likes several of the Republican contenders but that Rubio distinguished himself in the crowded field of 17 declared candidates.

"I think he's the best communicator," Johnson said. "That's important for us, that we have someone who can really connect with people." 

Rubio launched his presidential campaign in April. A U.S. senator from Florida since 2011, he is the son of Cuban immigrants whose rapid political rise at a young age impressed many in the party. At 44, Rubio's relative youth as well as ethnic background has marked him for some Republicans as a candidate whose appeal could transcend established Republican constituencies. 

"He's a traditional conservative, but he's still able to reach past traditional conservatives with his message," Johnson said. "We can't win unless we have a candidate who does that."

Minnesota's presidential caucus will be held next year on March 1, which will stand as the presidential race's "Super Tuesday" for the 2016 cycle. In all, a dozen states are holding a primaries or caucuses that day. Those follow four initial contests in February: the Iowa caucus, New Hampshire primary, South Carolina primary and Nevada caucus. 

Many Minnesota Republicans are hoping Minnesota's inclusion in Super Tuesday will be a greater incentive for presidential contenders to visit and invest campaign resources in the state than in previous cycles. Besides Rubio, several other candidates have already started to line up Minnesota support. 

Johnson said he would spend the coming months trying to convince other prominent Minnesota Republicans to endorse Rubio, and contacting local GOP activists urging them to support Rubio on caucus night. 

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