Politics with Jennifer Brooks

Why is Al Franken going to the Iron Range?

J. Patrick Coolican

Former Sen. Al Franken to the Iron Range, speaking at Senate District 6 fundraiser, Saturday Oct. 12, according to Facebook.

I reached out to his current representatives to ask what's going on here but didn't hear back. When he began his reputation repair, culminating in this long New Yorker piece, the conventional wisdom was that he was trying to allow himself to get out and make a living in public, as he's done his entire adult life. Or, get back into politics. Going to Iron Range DFL fundraisers on a Saturday night in October sure seems like the latter. Unless he misses this kind of thing and all the relationships he developed during nearly a decade in politics here. It's also near the anniversary of Paul Wellstone's death, so maybe it's a spiritual journey of sorts.

But let's say he's interested in returning to Minnesota politics. What is the path? If Sen. Amy Klobuchar is elected president or vice president (I know I know, bear with me), or appointed to the cabinet or the judiciary, that allows Gov. Tim Walz to appoint someone. Is it too early in the governor's tenure to appoint Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan? Surely there are other people on the DFL bench that deserve a shot and would be more pathbreaking, but Franken would bring serious fundraising muscle to bear and might be a good partner for Walz on the 2022 ballot, which would be the Senate special election.

Aside from that, there's the House. The chattering classes half jokingly fantasize about the spectacle of a Franken primary challenge to Rep. Ilhan Omar. Seems highly unlikely for a lot of reasons. Franken is a Senate guy. The high profile hearings. The long and languorous speeches. The phony decorum.

So the mystery continues.

In the "Iowa Focus on Rural America Poll" Sen. Amy Klobuchar cracked the top 5 and doubled her support to 8 percent. Poll conducted by David Binder Research, an in-house Obama '08 and '12 pollster. Iowa Starting Line has a footnote (h/t The Torey Van Oot): It should be noted that Klobuchar has often over-performed her numbers in other surveys in these Focus On Rural America polls, while they’ve also usually picked up less support for Sanders than nearly every other Iowa polling outfit.

I was once of the belief that Iowa was a must-win or place for Klobuchar, but given her flagging poll numbers all year a third-place finish would beat expectations and allow her to continue the campaign, seems to me anyway.

I got some pushback from DFL operative Brian Rice about my clip and comments about Vice President Joe Biden in Tuesday's Hot Dish.

What’s wrong with the Biden tape? He recounts a story about a place he was at nearly 60 years ago. He is a lifeguard at a public pool and he is about to be confronted by a group of kids. He seeks advice. He figures out what he is facing. Apologizes and talks his way out of it. Nobody gets hurt. Same thing happened to me where I grew up. Seeing the tape makes me want to support him more. This is exactly why Biden is at where he is at and is probably why he is the only candidate in the field who can reach the non-college white voters you spend most of your column talking about. Believe it or not, but you are falling for the same snobbery Adam Duininck is talking about. Name any of the other nine debaters in the Democratic field who are going to appeal to the non college white voters in the blue wall that extends from Pa. to Mn.?

MN Supreme Court rejected the appeal on Enbridge Line 3, making it closer to a reality: Mike Hughlett. Now Commerce will fix issues with the EIS at the direction of the PUC, ye acronym lovers!

The question is whether opponents will engage in disruptive protests and what impact that will have during the 2020 election. Line 3 is a serious liability for the DFL, as it divides construction unions from tribal nations and Twin Cities progressives.

In addition to Rep. Collin Peterson, Rep. Angie Craig broke with House Dems on the aid to farmers in the face of the trade war problems. Release:

U.S. Rep Angie Craig called on House leadership to include additional funds for Minnesota’s family farmers in the spending bill expected on the House Floor this week. The continuing resolution must include authority for the Commodity Credit Corporation to extend past the $30 billion mark before October 1st, allowing for Market Facilitation Program and Farm Bill payments to be made to our farmers on time.

Dems relented. This was shrewd. I wonder if they ever really intended to hold up the funding. The whole "showdown" allowed certain members like Craig and Peterson to show independence and influence.

Rep. Jim Hagedorn release:

Rep. Jim Hagedorn (MN-01) voted for H.R. 1618, the “Nicholas and Zachary Burt Memorial Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2019.” The legislation honors the memory of Nicholas and Zachary Burt of Rochester, who tragically died of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty furnace in their parents’ home in December 1995, and aims to prevent further tragedy at the hands of carbon monoxide poisoning by establishing a grant program that provides assistance to states for taking preventative measures.

New Climate Action Caucus will have a news conference at 4 Thursday. All DFL, natch. And, no Rep. Jamie Long, despite this being his signature issue. No surprise given last week's unpleasantness around the dodgy job he got through the U.

News conference about cuts to food stamps (SNAP): Thursday at 10; the Food Group 8501 54th Ave N, New Hope; groups represented to include Hunger Solutions Minnesota, Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota, AARP Minnesota.

The TVO advises: DFLer Charles Dolson running for SD05 on the campaign finance board website, a challenge to GOP Sen. Justin Eichorn. Looks like Dolson is a Marine and a lawyer, according to the Bemidji paper.

Walz kicks of a four-day tour around veterans issues today with a VA Hospital Tour in Minneapolis. In his heart he's still ranking member of House Veterans Affairs. (Future VA Secretary?)

The AP has a Walz interview in which he says priorities next year are plans to push proposals for making insulin affordable, reducing gun violence, clean energy and criminal justice reform. A little surprised that dropping math and reading scores and worst-in-the-nation racial disparities wouldn't grab a place on the priority list.

Mila Koumpilova reports Minnesota State's faculty union reports 8 tenured faculty members laid off at St. Cloud State University, which has struggled with enrollment loss and budget challenges. They are four librarians, three philosophers and a theater professor.

Just fyi: Don't be disappointed when your kid tells you he or she wants to be a philosophy major. They have the fourth highest median income of all majors, at $81,200, according to Educational Testing Service, and those numbers are a little old so it's probably higher. They also score highly on the tests for business and law school (Here's an older piece fromFiveThirtyEight. ) Philosophy requires logical reasoning, rigorous analytical and critical thinking and good writing skills. If you can do those things, you can do just about anything because you know how to learn. A number of significant corporate leaders including LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman have philosophy degrees. Although a warning: They can be pretty insufferable because they also know how to argue.

Toxic Airborne Event, as Don DeLillo would call it?

Kinda unpleasant with your breakfast paper, but an important subject.

Too early and the election is too close to call but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's long tenure is closer to over than it was a couple days ago: AP

Correspond: patrick.coolican@startribune.com.

Have a great day all!

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