Dayton calls out GOP 'hucksters' for 'highly irresponsible' pledge to reopen Range mine

REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. — DFL Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday called his Republican rivals "highly irresponsible" for pledging to reopen an Iron Range mine before an environmental study is done.

Republicans are "just pandering to people up there," Dayton told reporters. "They're like a lot of other hucksters who have gone up there saying they have jobs to offer, so vote for us."

Dayton, who is seeking re-election, said he will wait until after an environmental assessment is complete before taking a position.

"I think that's the responsibility I have as governor," Dayton said before giving a short address at the annual FarmFest trade show here.

Also last week, Dayton's GOP rivals said they would approve the PolyMet copper-nickel mine being planned near Hoyt Lakes.

The controversial $650 million proposal would reopen the abandoned LTV Steel Mining Corp. facility there. Operators hope to mine one of the world's largest undeveloped deposits of copper, nickel and precious metals.

The project has drawn sharp criticism from environmentalists, who say the project could degrade ecologically fragile lands and result in long-lasting pollution of nearby rivers and even Lake Superior.

The mine is projected to create 360 jobs. An environmental study by the state Department of Natural Resources is underway, with a report due this year.

Dayton's remarks come less than a week before a GOP primary that will determine which of the four GOP candidates goes on to the general election in November.

Republican Scott Honour, one of the four running against Dayton, said the DFL governor has shown a lack of leadership on the PolyMet issue.

Ricardo Lopez

Better late than never

Democratic U.S. House candidates Joe Perske and Sharon Sund filed federal campaign finance reports this week. The reports were due last week, as the Federal Election Commission reminded them. Perske, who is running in the Sixth Congressional District, had $38,000 cash on hand for his quest. Sund, who is hoping to oust Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, had just under $18,000.

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

Place your bets on upcoming elections

The Star Tribune's Hot Dish Politics blog has restarted its political pool and is now accepting guesses on the results of next week's primary election. Bets must be placed on Twitter in reply to @rachelsb and use the hashtag #stribets. The questions: 1) Who will win the Republican gubernatorial primary? 2) Who will win the DFL auditor primary? 3) How many people will turn out in the Republican primary? 4) How many will turn out in the Democratic primary? 5) Will Sheila Kihne or Jenifer Loon win the GOP House primary in Eden Prairie? Will Phyllis Kahn or Mohamud Noor win the DFL House primary in Minneapolis?

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger