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Torey Van Oot

Politics and Government | Reporter
Phone: 612-673-7299
Location: St. Paul

Torey Van Oot reports on Minnesota politics and government for the Star Tribune.


Van Oot covered state and national politics for more than a decade, contributing to outlets ranging from The Sacramento Bee to InStyle to The Washington Post. When she's not writing and tweeting about politics, Van Oot enjoys running, getting outdoors and checking out Minnesota's many craft breweries. She's told she has terrible taste in TV. Van Oot, who grew up in Vermont, lives in Minneapolis with her husband and a sweet but poorly behaved golden retriever.
Recent content from Torey Van Oot
Presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke on stage Friday night at First Avenue for a Get Out The Vote rally. Presidential candidate Sen. Klobuc

Minnesotans celebrate start of voting in state's first presidential primary since 1992

The state is holding its first primary since 1992. Minnesotans cast some of the first ballots of the presidential election Friday morning, as early absentee voting began ahead of the state's March 3 primary.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., prepares to be interviewed in the spin room Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, after a Democratic

Here's what people are saying about Klobuchar's Iowa debate performance

Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar faced off against fellow Democratic presidential candidates Tuesday night in the final nationally televised debate ahead of the Iowa Caucuses. …
Patricia Mueller

Minnesota GOP works to recruit more women to run for office

At least nine GOP women are running for DFL-held state House seats so far this year.
Former Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, has registered as a lobbyist, just a month after leaving office.

Ex-lawmaker's lobbying job sparks fresh calls for 'revolving door' laws

A former Republican state legislator has registered as a lobbyist just one month after leaving office, sparking fresh calls to update Minnesota’s conflict-of-interest laws. Former…
Republican Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, of Nisswa, at the podium, lays out the Senate GOP agenda for the 2020 legislative session du

Minnesota Senate Republicans roll out 2020 agenda

Gazelka calls for tax cuts, and an end to income tax on social security income.
Gov. Tim Walz intends to roll out his sweeping public works package in four phases over the next week.

Gov. Walz proposes Minn. borrow $276M for affordable housing

Gov. Tim Walz unveiled the first part of his 2020 state bonding proposal, recommending to the Legislature that Minnesota borrow $276 million to pay for affordable housing projects across the state. Some of the money could be used to add sprinklers to public housing buildings.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the Johnson Family Farm in Wells, Minn., on Wednesday to tour the farm and talk about trade tariffs. O

In Minnesota, Michael Bloomberg tries to show ex-N.Y. mayor would fight for rural interests

The candidate's extensive spending here could benefit other Democrats, some said.
Democratic presidential candidate, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, chats with Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney at a coffee shop in Richmond,

Michael Bloomberg to make first campaign stop in Minnesota on Wednesday

The presidential candidate is spending heavily on the airwaves ahead of the state's Super Tuesday primary.
The walkways in the Minnesota Capitol were bustling with lawmakers, lobbyists, and other interested parties a day before the legislative session wrapp

Watchdog questions Minn. lobbying loophole for former legislators

Watchdog agency is concerned that former legislators are taking advantage of a disclosure loophole.
Minnesota state Rep. Diane Loeffler, DFL-Minneapolis, died of cancer Nov. 16.

First day of class also will be an election day for some University of Minnesota students

Gov. Tim Walz has said the date was selected "to accommodate the large student population in the district."
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., pictured at a rally at the University of Minnesota, faced questions from the FEC over $800,000 in unitemzed campaign contrib

Rep. Ilhan Omar's small-dollar fundraising haul sparks inquiry from FEC

The congresswoman reported raising more than $800,000 from small-dollar contributors from July to September.
President Trump addressed his supporters at a rally in October at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Battleground Minnesota: What to expect from state politics in 2020

Thought 2019 was a wild year in political news? Buckle up: 2020 is expected to be even bigger — and busier. The races for the…
Long

DFL legislator's post at the U did not violate ethics laws, review finds

Independent investigation's findings into the DFL lawmaker's hiring are released.
The entrance to the Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, Calif.

Edina man killed by falling redwood on California trail had love for the outdoors

Subhradeep Dutta, 28, died on a Christmas Eve hike.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., got generally high marks for her performance in the Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday.

What people are saying about Klobuchar's debate performance

The stakes for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, trailing the top tier in fifth place in the polls with just six weeks to go until the Iowa Caucuses, are higher than ever.
Cory Peine of Cannon Falls and Jay Anderson of Hastings occasionally glanced up at the impeachment hearings on television in the background at Little

National divide over impeachment on display at a Dakota County diner

Little Oscar's Restaurant in Hampton mirrored the nation's deep divide. Ultimately, the final verdict is likely to be rendered in next year's election by these suburban swing districts.
Democratic presidential candidates gather onstage for a state party forum in Las Vegas on Nov. 17, 2019. From left: former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Pa

15 Democrats qualify for Minnesota's presidential primary ballot

In order to make the DFL ballot, candidates had to agree to the national committee's delegate selection rules and submit a letter by mid-December.
A 2003 photo from the dedication of a memorial to three men lynched in Duluth in 1920 after accusations of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman. Th

Minn. board clears way for pardon in case that sparked 1920 lynching

The move could mark the first posthumous pardon in state history, related to a case that sparked the deaths of three men in Duluth.
From left, Javier Morillo, Brian McDaniel, Carin Mrotz and Amy Koch recorded the long-running “Wrong About Everything” podcast Friday.

'Friends of the pod:' Minnesota politicians talk directly to voters

As podcasts boom, politicians make their case straight to constituents.
Dabku waxa uu ka dilaacay dabaqa 14aad ee daaraha dhaadheer ee Cedar, halkaas oo shaq qof naftoofa ku waayeen.

Gudoomiyihii hore ee Minnesota Gud. Arne Carlson: "Waxa ay ila tahay in aan ku fashilanay" in rusheeyayaasha waajib laga dhigo dhismayaasha dhaadheer ee gaboobay.

Carlson laba jeer ayuu codka diidmada ku hor istaagay rusheeyayaasha ka dib markii Waaxda Maamulka Guryaha Dadweynaha ee Minneapolis iyo kooxo kale cabasho ka muujiyeen in qorshahaas aanu wehlin dhaqaale lagu hirgeliyo.
The burned-out 14th floor of the high-rise at Cedar High apartments, where five people died from smoke inhalation.

Ex-Gov. Carlson: 'I think we failed' on requiring sprinklers for old high-rises

Carlson twice vetoed broader sprinkler mandates after the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and other groups complained that retrofit proposals didn't come with any money.
Young Minnesota activists made their way through the skyway on their way to the Xcel offices to demand that they stop buying energy from the HERC inci

Minnesota youth activists rally across metro for action on climate

At the State Capitol and elsewhere around the Twin Cities, they pushed for changes they believe will mitigate the effects.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, in this February 2018 Star Tribune file photo, is shown leaving the Senate floor.

DFL leader Tom Bakk faces leadership challenge from fellow Senate Democrat

Sen. Susan Kent of Woodbury told Democratic colleagues she plans to run for minority leader against Bakk, a fixture at the Capitol.

Minneapolis attorney launches primary bid against Rep. Ilhan Omar

Antone Melton-Meaux wants to challenge the freshman congresswoman in the DFL primary next year
From left, Reps. Betty McCollum, Dean Phillips and Angie Craig appeared at a Veterans Day event, in Inver Grove Heights.

Impeachment battle plays out in pivotal Twin Cities suburbs

Democrats are plotting a 2020 strategy that relies heavily on suburban voters moving away from the Republican Party of Trump.
Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman is one of the seven lawmakers on the trip.

Minnesota lawmakers travel to Israel, West Bank

Seven lawmakers, including House Speaker Melissa Hortman, are participating in the trip, which is coordinated by the Jewish Community Relations Council.
In this Sept. 20, 2018 photo, voting booths stand ready in downtown Minneapolis for the opening of early voting in Minnesota. (AP Photo/Steve Karnowsk

Democrats sue Minnesota over ballot rules that put pro-marijuana parties first

Current state rules mean candidates from pro-marijuana parties would appear first.
Gov. Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz sets special election date for two state House seats

Voters will select a legislator to succeed late Rep. Diane Loeffler, who died at age 66.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar D-Minn., speaks during the 37th annual HRC New England dinner on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 in Boston.

Amy Klobuchar mum on the $17,000 question: Who were the exes?

While the quip may be new to national audiences, the Minnesota Democrat has been using the line for years.
The house that became the Minnesota governor's residence, in the early 1910s.

Renovation of Minnesota governor's residence under review

The 16,000-square-foot Tudor house on Summit Avenue in St. Paul is in serious need of repair, state officials say.
Minnesota Rep. Kurt Daudt has been hired by Stateside Associates, a Virginia-based government relations firm, as its director of public affairs,

Minnesota House GOP leader joins D.C. area lobbying firm

Kurt Daudt will continue to serve in the Legislature and as GOP caucus leader, coming under fire from Democrats for a "massive conflict of interest."
Gov. Tim Walz gestured a sign of respect to Ojibwe elders and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan after he signed a bill to launch the first official meeting of t

'Not one more': Minnesota launches task force on missing and murdered indigenous women

Panel is set to issue recommendations by December 2020.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., center speaks as Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, left a

From 'best' night to ex-boyfriends: What they're saying about Klobuchar's 5th debate

Sen. Amy Klobuchar looked to build on her strong October performance in Wednesday's Democratic debate, sticking to her message of midwestern pragmatism as she…
The naming of Neill Hall, the Arts and Humanities Building at Macalester, is now under fire, because it’s named after a man that had some writings p

Macalester president calls for stripping founder's name from building over 'extreme' racist views

Student activists and journalists raised concerns about racist and sexist views Edward Duffield Neill promoted in the 1800s.
Mike Molzahn, left, and Rep. Jean Wagenius, the chair of the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Finance Committee, in 2014.

Longtime state Rep. Jean Wagenius to retire after three decades

DFL Rep. Hunter Cantrell also announced that he won't seek another term in the state House.
An estimated 96% of Americans own a cellphone of some kind. “If you’re not reaching people on their mobile, then you’re missing out,” said Tim

A year out, political texts are lighting up Minnesotans' cellphones

Campaign strategists say the approach is efficient, inexpensive and necessary.

'State of Student Voting' is up

Despite the gains, advocates for higher turnout say more can be done heading into 2020.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, shown Sunday at the Bernie Sanders rally at Williams Arena.

Rep. Ilhan Omar finalizes divorce from husband month after filing

Questions over her marital history have attracted unwanted attention.
MAGA presidential hats and T-shirts for sale at the Republican GOP booth at the Minnesota State Fair.

Trump campaign hires former Minnesota GOP executive director

Poindexter stepped down from party post last week.
Minnesota volunteers worked in St. Paul to raise awareness for South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.

Minnesota takes a higher profile in presidential campaign

Crowded Democratic field, Trump's vow to carry Minnesota all factor in.
State Sen. Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis

State Sen. Scott Dibble says he's the victim of a revenge porn scheme

A former intimate partner sent images to his colleagues, the DFL state senator says.
John Parker-Der Boghossian, of the Armenian Cultural Organization of Minnesota, was upset when he heard his representative Rep. Ilhan Omar voted only

Abstention on Armenian genocide vote vexes supporters of Rep. Omar

Armenians, and even some of her allies, assail her "present" vote
Davin Sokup

Minnesota carpenter would be the state's first openly transgender legislator

Southern Minnesota district could be a key battleground for control of the state Senate.
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar upset an incumbent in the Legislature and challenged a moderate in the primary for her House seat.

Impatient for change, progressives line up to challenge DFL incumbents

A bevy of progressives are challenging longtime Democratic incumbents in the Legislature in next year's elections, potentially sending more women, millennials and people of color to the State Capitol.
Matt Little

A vote for Venmo? One Minnesota lawmaker gives fundraising via payment app a try

A Minnesota lawmaker is seeking campaign donations with a side of emoji. State Sen. Matt Little announced this month that his re-election committee is…
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., in Washington, Monday, June 24, 2019.

Sen. Bernie Sanders to return to Minnesota for Nov. 3 rally at the U

The Democratic presidential hopeful will appear Nov. 3 at Northrop auditorium.
Hillary Clinton spoke Thursday in Minneapolis during a book event promoting her new book “The Book of Gutsy Women.”

In promoting book, Clintons urge Minnesotans to make a difference in 2020 vote

Hillary and Chelsea Clinton made a stop in Minneapolis to promote their just-released "The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience."
In this Oct. 17, 2019, photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., smiles during a campaign stop at a coffee shop in Concord

Klobuchar hits polling threshold, qualifying for Nov. Democratic debate

Nine candidates have met requirements so far for the Nov. 20 debate in Atlanta.
“No one in this country should fear for their safety,” U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum said.

Minnesota Democrats lead push to protect confidentiality for abuse victims

Minnesota Democratic lawmakers are leading a push to ensure the federal government does its part to shield the home addresses of domestic abuse survivors. Legislation…
Former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren both beat Trump by double digits in the poll of Minnesota voters. Sens. Bernie Sanders

Trump trails top Democrats and Klobuchar in Minnesota Poll

The poll was conducted less than a week after President Trump visited Minneapolis for a high-profile campaign rally as part of an emerging effort by a Republican nominee to carry Minnesota for the first time since 1972.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

Rep. Ilhan Omar endorses Bernie Sanders' presidential bid

She and Keith Ellison both endorse Vermont senator over Amy Klobuchar.
The latest quarterly federal fundraising reports were due Tuesday, giving political handicappers and analysts a look at how candidates for Congress an

Three things we learned from Minnesota lawmakers' campaign finance reports

More than a year remains until the 2020 election. But campaign cash is already flowing.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at

'A good night': What people are saying about Amy Klobuchar's debate performance

The Minnesota Democrat has yet to qualify for the November debate.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a former Democratic congressman, has pledged to defend several state statutes restricting abortion despite h

Conservatives blast A.G. Keith Ellison's handling of abortion challenge

Motion to dismiss challenge to restrictions insufficient, critics say.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, seen July 25 in Washington, D.C., reported raising more than $1.1 million in the third-quarter fundraising period.

Rep. Ilhan Omar raises $1.1 million for re-election bid

Congresswoman's high profile, Trump's attacks help her raise $1.1 million.
President Trump spoke at a 2018 rally in Rochester. Trump is bringing his campaign to Minneapolis on Thursday, focusing on many of the same problems h

Trump rally in Mpls. follows his attacks on big cities, Democrats

On Thursday, Trump will bring one of his signature rallies to downtown Minneapolis, ground zero of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar's district, where the urban-rural divide underlying his attack will be on full display.
State Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, is proposing to allow private driving instructors to administer the road tests.

Facing a long wait (and drive) for your license test? State senator has a fix for that

Karin Housley's idea: Allow private driving instructors to administer the road tests.
Rep. Jamie Long, DFL-Minneapolis

Fallout over legislator's job at U of M sparks calls for new disclosure rules

Transparency advocates are seeking tougher conflict-of-interest rules for Minnesota's 201 state representatives and senators, the majority of whom hold outside jobs when the Legislature is not in session.
President Donald Trump visited Rochester in October 2018 with a rally at Mayo Civic Center.

Trump will return to state for Oct. 10 rally at Target Center

It will mark his fourth visit in 16 months to Minnesota after repeatedly pledging to pour energy and resources into flipping the state in 2020.
On Monday, U.S. Rep. Angie Craig called for Congress to immediately open impeachment hearings. Above, Craig spoke at a town hall in January.

Craig, Phillips seek probe over Trump Ukraine allegations

Two Twin Cities suburban House members joined a growing group of moderate Democrats on Monday voicing support for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
Long

U president: Hiring of DFL legislator 'put at risk a core value'

Think tank's job offer to a DFL legislator spurs new university president to improve process.
Protesters gathered Friday at the Capitol in St. Paul to protest climate change inaction.

'Get the job done': Minnesota students call for climate action

Several thousand young people emptied local classrooms on Friday as part of a coordinated global movement seeking greater government action on climate change.
Pills with 5-mg doses of Oxycodone.

New Minnesota opioid council goes to work

Members of the advisory board will help decide how to spend $20 million a year in new funds dedicated to curbing the crisis.
Republican Sen. Scott Newman, shown to 2012, has the answer as to how to pronounce the new set of letters linked to Minnesota's vehicle registration s

MNLARS was a mouthful; now legislators have to pronounce VTRS

That's short for Minnesota's Vehicle Title and Registration System.
The University of Minnesota has returned a $50,000 donation at the center of a controversy over the hiring of a DFL state legislator.

U returns $50,000 at center of legislative hiring controversy

The money was going to be used to pay the salary of a DFL legislator.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman, shown in April. Hortman, the leader of the House DFL caucus, plans to review documents that prompted allegations of pol

DFL leader to review lawmaker's hiring for U fellowship

Republicans are alleging preferential treatment.
Rep. Jamie Long, DFL-Minneapolis

DFL lawmaker resigns from U post after questions about hiring

Republicans called for an investigation, citing "major questions" about the hiring process.
"I think we are turning a page and hopefully the problems we had for over a decade are behind us," state Rep. Frank Hornstein said Monday, Sept. 9, as

Legislators: 'We have turned the corner' on troubled MNLARS system

Legislators hope MNLARS replacement can reduce wait times, mistakes.
Mason jars for an informal kernel poll of presidential candidates at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Aug. 9. The crowded and divided Democratic c

As parties court small-dollar donors, undecided Democrats back multiple candidates

Macey Meyer never considered herself the type to donate to a presidential campaign. Then she watched the first Democratic presidential primary debates. The 26-year-old restaurant…
LeadMN Executive Director Mike Dean assisted 18-year old Justin Engels of Victoria, Minn., with his voter registration.

Young activists push voter registration at state's community colleges

Activists target 2-year colleges, which have more students of color, lag in voting.
Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, spoke in July about DHS Commissioner Tony Lourey’s resignation.

DHS returns to the hot seat; wedding bells for Rep. Dean Phillips

Turmoil at the Minnesota Department of Human Services will be back in the spotlight this week, as the state Senate holds a second hearing into…
U.S. Rep Ilhan Omar held a town hall meeting Tuesday in Minneapolis on ICE and the administration's immigration detention policies. Attorney Kara Lynu

Rep. Ilhan Omar: U.S. 'losing our moral high ground' on immigration

Community forum in south Minneapolis followed day of fresh turmoil for her.
Former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, a Republican, announced at the Minnesota State Fair that he will challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith in the 2020 e

What you need to know about former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis

The ex-GOP congressman and conservative radio host is challenging U.S. Sen Tina Smith in 2020.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, right, with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., at her side, were joined at Monday’s news conference by Minnesotans who have been affected

Rep. Ilhan Omar blasts Israel and Trump over trip decision

Speaking at a packed news conference in the State Capitol with fellow Rep. Rashida Tlaib, she vowed to continue to "highlight the human cost" of Israel's policies.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka met in January with members of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus. Residents in Gazelka's district, which has a stron

Rural Minnesota gun owners split on need to 'try something'

In this lakes region with a strong tradition of hunting and fishing, longtime gun-rights advocates are grappling with a response to latest shootings.