Staff Directory 6370467

J. Patrick Coolican

Reporter | Politics and state government
Recent content from J. Patrick Coolican
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ilhan Omar at a Sanders rally at Williams Arena in Minneapolis on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019.

Sanders draws raucous crowd, but health questions linger

Even as he excited the crowd with his trademark appeal to a more egalitarian America, Sanders will likely face a tougher contest than his landslide Minnesota victory four years ago in the presidential primary.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman. Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt came onto the House floor Monday morning. He talked with other Republican l

Here are the inherent problems with polls

A common refrain is that President Donald Trump defied the polls. It's really only half right.
File photo: Nora Slawik was named chair of the Metropolitan Council by Governor Tim Walz at the State Capitol in St. Paul on December 18, 2018. She an

Met Council chair resigning after 10 months on the job

Nora Slawik is the second member of the cabinet of DFL Gov. Tim Walz to leave during his first year, while a third was issued a formal reprimand.
Kevin Poindexter

Minnesota Republican Party executive director resigns

Kevin Poindexter has served as executive director since May 2018.

Vaping epidemic complicates pot legalization in Minnesota

Supporters say rigorously regulated market would actually make both safer.
Tim Mahoney; Minnesota District 67A State representative; Democrat; 2014.myVote id: 54062

Rep. Tim Mahoney, St. Paul fixture, retiring after two decades

The retirement at the end of 2020 will bring to a close a 22-year career in the Legislature.
Jamokia Curry worked at Water Gremlin for two years and left this August. His daughter Ja'Naea, pictured, has tested high for lead. They are photograp

Battle brews over the state-ordered shutdown of Water Gremlin plant

While some employees demonstrated with their children at the Capitol to reopen the plant, others who had worked there have spoken out about fears of illness and health risks.
Yasiel Santiago-Castillo, a senior at Henry Sibley High School, held a vaping device disguised as a hoodie drawstring. On his left is Rep. Laurie Halv

Legislators vow to crack down on teen vaping in 2020 session

Both parties plan measures to get nicotine products out of the hands of teenagers.
U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar speaks at a town hall in Minneapolis in August 2019.

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.
President Donald Trump addressed his supporters at a rally in Target Center in Minneapolis. ] President Donald Trump addressed his supporters at a ral

Some takeaways from the Star Tribune Minnesota Poll

Safiya Ali voted at the Brian Coyle Community Center on primary election day, Tuesday, August 14, 2018 in Minneapolis, MN. ] ELIZABETH FLORES •

2020 vote could go either way with higher turnout

President Trump addressed his supporters.

Can President Donald Trump really win Minnesota?

Sen. Tina Smith and Gov. Tim Walz applauded as former Gov. Mark Dayton's official Capitol portrait was unveiled during a ceremony Thursday.

Portrait celebrates former Minnesota Gov. Dayton's legacy at Capitol

The former governor says the painting honors not just himself, but democracy and state's people.
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan greeted students at the University of Minnesota's Institute of Child Development Wednesday.

Gov. Tim Walz hits the road for a major public works package

Tour anticipates a legislative battle over state infrastructure projects.
Minnesotans have received more than 387 million robocalls this year, or 58 per person with a phone, according to state data.

Minnesota House DFLers prepare to crack down on robocalls

Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, said the legislation would be the "toughest" in the country.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., in a September photo.

Rep. Omar files for divorce from her husband, Ahmed Hirsi

She has denied allegations of an extramarital affair.
A coalition of groups including Main Street Alliance, TakeAction Minnesota, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), SEIU Minnesota, AFL-CIO, and IS

TakeAction, progressive groups mimic conservatives, build infrastructure

Quinn Nystrom left showed her dad Bob Nystrom insulin outside Shoppers Drug Market pharmacy Saturday May 4, 2019 in Ft. Frances, Ontario.] Six Minneso

Diabetes advocate Quinn Nystrom to run against Rep. Stauber in 8th District

The rising price of insulin has thrust Nystrom, a former Baxter City Council member, into the public eye in recent months.
Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday said he is "certainly willing to look at" legislation that would allow college athletes in Minnesota to hire agents and make

Gov. Tim Walz blasts nicotine industry as youth vaping soars

Minnesota Department of Health survey finds a 54% increase in vaping among 11th-graders from 2016..
Democratic congressional candidate Dan Feehan toured the Thormodson family farm in Madelia. Owner John Thormodson talked about the unique challenges o

Feehan announces rematch with Hagedorn in First District

Feehan wasted no time opening up attacks on Hagedorn.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz to focus on reducing school dropouts; critics see a diversion from falling test scores

Graduation changes students' lives, he says. Others see a deflection from low test scores.
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after walking off Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, Sept. 26, 2019. The whistle-blower&#x201

What is the impact of a presidential visit? Maybe nothing

Among the questions: Can Trump make the significant gains he would need to win in the state?
John Westmoreland

Top leader at Minnesota union resigns amid investigation

The nature of the allegation has yet to be made public.
FanDuel Sportsbook runs the sports betting operations at Diamond Jo Casino.

Can Iowa-style sports betting pay off for Minnesota?

Legislators travel to Iowa casino to gather facts (and check out the action) following state's newly passed law.
Demonstrators with Everytown for Gun Safety outside the partially-scaffolded U.S. Capitol building earlier this month.

Democrats debate whether to mobilize base or target swing voters

Minnesota state workers, Walz administration reach tentative contracts

State workers get raises and help with student loans.
Rep. Tina Liebling

While Minnesota's population shifts, center of political gravity moves south

Rochester area getting more diverse and younger; grip on Iron Range is slipping.
From left, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sand

Despite worries, presidential debates will do little to shift party lines

Alida Rockefeller Messinger, photographed Wednesday evening, October 12, 2011, upstairs at The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, Minn. Messinger has eme

The big outside groups are playing it close to the vest

Boots on the ground and a smart strategy to direct them come into play in close races.
New Department of Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead took questions from sate senators after being introduced at the start of a Minnesota Stat

New DHS leader promises to 'rebuild trust' at agency

Jodi Harpstead told a Minnesota Senate panel Wednesday that her priority is restoring credibility in a sprawling social service agency that has been hit with a revelations of poor financial controls and a chaotic leadership shuffle.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, has rocketed from conservative backbencher to a leading Minnesota critic of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, his former colleag

Lawmaker goes from GOP's back bench to leading Omar critic

As the go-to guy for Fox News personalities to talk about U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, Mazeppa Republican Steve Drazkowski has been given a national platform for political fundraising as he mulls a run for Congress.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren pointed to her son while telling the audience about her life as a young mother and professor during her her Town Hall on Shaw Fi

Democrats asking: What makes a candidate electable?

Loss in court slices millions from Minnesota state budget

The state of Minnesota is potentially out more than $130 million this budget cycle after losing a court battle that will greatly limit the state's ability to collect taxes on trust accounts in other states.
Jimmy Fallon visited with fans in Minneapolis during a taping for the Super Bowl edition of "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon."

Minnesota Film and TV board makes changes in wake of Jimmy Fallon controversy

Productions around special events no longer eligible for subsidies.
Jodi Harpstead is announced as the new Commissioner of DHS by Gov. Tim Walz. ] LEILA NAVIDI • BACKGROUND INFORMATI

DFL politics shaped by Minnesota's Fortune 500 culture

The role of the big corporate sector in DFL politics — and vice versa — is an interesting phenomenon of both political and business life here.
Attorney General Keith Ellison speaks after the bill signing ceremony. ] LEILA NAVIDI • BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Na

Attorney General Keith Ellison's office sued over Bloomberg-related hiring

Ellison says the case is without merit
Sen. Michelle Benson asks DHS acting commissioner Pam Wheelock about the resignation of the former DHS commissioner during a Senate hearing about rece

State senators demand answers after weeks of problems at DHS

Former medical director said the agency was making too many decisions without doctor input.
Jodi Harpstead spoke at a press conference at the State Capitol after being announced as the new Department of Human Services commissioner by Gov. Tim

Walz names Lutheran Social Service president to head DHS

Monday's announcement ends a period of turmoil in the top ranks of the agency, which serves more than 1 million Minnesotans with the help of roughly 7,300 workers.
Joseph Lawrence applauded during graduation ceremonies at Avivo on Aug. 1 in Minneapolis. The nonprofit received just shy of $500,000 from the Legisla

'They seem like no-bid contracts': DFLers expose policy rift over state job-training funds

Direct funding of nonprofits calls DEED's opportunity-gap results into question.
Department heads at Busch Agricultural Resources had the opportunity to ask Collin Peterson questions. ] GLEN STUBBE * Wednesd

Republicans again hopeful in the Seventh, but Collin Peterson won't be easy to vanquish

The trend line doesn't look good for the sometimes cantankerous but often amusing chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
Gov. Tim Walz and Jamie Edwards.

Walz's inaugural committee took in big money from corporations, unions

More than $700,000 poured in from unions and corporate donors.
Bill author Melisa Franzen, D-Edina, and Republican co-sponsor Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, listened as the Republican controlled Senate Judiciary and Publ

Burnout threatens the quality of politics nationally and in Minnesota

It's not clear what the solution is.
Minnesota State Rep. Nick Zerwas and other Minnesota House Republicans announce a proposal at the state Capitol on Monday, March 25, 2019, that will c

New inspector general at DHS named amid fraud probe

Interim manager Bob Jacobson has a law enforcement background.
Ranking minority member Senator Ann Rest challenged Senate Tax committee chairman Roger Chamberlain on a provision in the bill. The Senate tax committ

Minnesota progressives getting impatient, might challenge incumbents

Sarah Walker, then deputy Corrections Department commissioner, at a February rally at the State Capitol.

Complaints: Minn. corrections official lobbied on state time

Sarah Walker, who stepped down last week, vehemently denies claims that she lobbied for husband's nonprofit while serving as deputy corrections commissioner.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz

GOP lawmakers demand answers on shake-up at Minnesota Department of Human Services

Republican lawmakers put pressure on Walz administration for answers about what happened at the massive social services agency.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, is submitting a formal request for an investigation of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar to the U.S. House Ethics Committee.

Republican legislator continues battle with Rep. Ilhan Omar

Rep. Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa launched a website focused on Rep. Ilhan Omar and also submitted a formal request for an investigation to the U.S. House Ethics Committee.
In this Dec. 28, 2017, file photo, Al Franken speaks about his accomplishments as his eight years in the Senate came to an end.

Al Franken tells New Yorker he regrets resigning: 'Absolutely.'

Seven current and former Democratic senators told the New Yorker that they regret calling for Franken's resignation and not giving him a chance for "due process."
Longtime aide Chris Schmitter, currently an attorney with the firm Green Espel, smiled as .Gov.-elect Tim Walz announced he'd be chief of staff during

For Gov. Tim Walz's chief of staff, a crash course in crisis management

Pam Wheelock newly appointed Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. ] GLEN STUBBE • Thursday,

In Pam Wheelock, Minnesota Dept. of Human Services gets a seasoned leader

Acting commissioner is brought on to calm an agency facing leadership tumult.
DOC Deputy Commissioner Sarah Walker, pictured at a rally in February, has resigned.

Top deputy at state Corrections Dept. resigns amid probe

A spokeswoman said the department has received complaints about Sarah Walker, but "the investigation has not been completed."
Claire Wilson, left, and Charles Johnson.

Two Minn. DHS deputies return after Lourey, chief of staff resign

Claire Wilson and Charles Johnson rescinded their resignations.
Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Tony Lourey resigned from his post Monday after just six months on the job.

Minnesota DHS head Lourey resigns abruptly in shake-up

State's Human Services head quits after 2 top deputies resigned.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), speaks during a news conference on the Medicare for All Act of 2019 outside the House

Takeaways from the profile of Ilhan Omar by the Washington Post

Claire Wilson, left, and Charles Johnson.

Two top Minn. Dept. of Human Services officials leave posts

The abrupt departures of two veteran administrators set up an early test of the leadership of Commissioner Tony Lourey.
Jimmy Fallon visits with fans and does some taping for "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" at a Super Bowl pregame event Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018.

Minnesota Film Board defends $267K for Super Bowl 'Tonight Show' visit

Republicans scoffed at the spending, which is sure to set off a fresh round of debate about the use of state money for favored industries, especially in film and television.
Rep. Ilhan Omar spoke to attendees of an immigration round table discussion Tuesday in Minneapolis. ] Aaron Lavinsky ¥ aaron.lavinsky@startribune

New documents revisit questions on Rep. Omar's marriage history

Although she has legally corrected the discrepancy, she has declined to say anything about how or why it happened.
Senate leader Paul Gazelka arrived at the Governor's office at the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., on Friday, May 17, 2019. ] RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER

In his quiet way, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka is scoring victories

He has scored policy wins that may seem only incremental but have significant long-term ramifications.
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, right, spoke in the Senate Chamber on the first day of the legislative session in 2019.

Lopsided grants on Iron Range spark questions of favoritism

The program intended to foster economic growth on the Iron Range has given more money per capita in the past five years for projects in influential state Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk's district than any other — by about one-third, according to a review of public records.
Tim Walz

Walz will not release his daily calendar, despite promise to do so

Governor's office refuses to make schedule public.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler came out of the Governor's office to respond to the Republicans new budget offer. ] GLE

It's time to stop underestimating House Speaker Melissa Hortman

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar delivered her victory speech on Election Night in 2018.

Rep. Ilhan Omar jointly filed tax returns prior to legal marriage

Questions about Omar's complicated marriage and immigration history resurfaced Thursday when a state campaign finance board revealed that she and Ahmed Hirsi filed joint tax returns in 2014 and 2015 — a period when she was legally married to another man.

State has paid Zimmern $57,000 to promote Minnesota as a destination

Zimmern's contract, which ends this month, required two posts per month to reach his more than 1 million Twitter and other social media followers.
New House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler sparred with Minority Leader Kurt Daudt over new temporary rules introduced by the DFL majority that Daudt said

Child care will be a hot political issue for the next decade or more

Ask anyone you know with a child in day care what it costs. And then ask them what their mortgage is. You'll find day care is often more expensive.
Revenue Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly was called to speak before the taxes committee.

New Minnesota law should make filing taxes simpler, cheaper

In rare agreement, both Republicans, Democrats praised the new measure.
Gov. Tim Walz, center

Walz fights to a draw in budget battle, comes away with a win

People around the State Capitol, including Republicans who tried to thwart Gov. Tim Walz's election last year, credit him with an agile bit of statecraft, even if it took a special session to wrap up the budget. He fought to a draw and transformed the deal — and his first legislative session — into a victory.
Lawmakers returned to the State Capitol on Friday for a special session.

Legislature wraps up $48.3B budget; Walz expected to sign

The Legislature adjourned early Saturday after a 21-hour special session in which they labored through a series of bills to fund Minnesota schools, parks, prisons, public health care and other services for the next two years.
President Donald Trump takes a question from a member of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington before his trip to Tokyo last mo

DFL operative: Look for return to split-ticket voting after Trump

Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt came onto the House floor Monday to talk with other Republican legislators and House Speaker Melissa Hortm

Legislature adjourns, but plans to come back Thursday

With time running out, legislative leaders tentatively planned a special session Thursday to hammer out final budget agreements through a series of conference committees or "working groups."
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka walked toward the Governor's office for budget negotiations early Sunday afternoon.

Budget tensions rise with fiery remarks by Walz, GOP senators

The contrasting scenes with Minnesota senators approving a stopgap bill and Gov. Tim Walz addressing teachers reflected the strains after a week of closed-door budget talks.
Christine Giroux exits the voting booth at Transit Town Hall, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. At 91.4 percent, in 2016, Sibley County had one of the highest pe

What is the impact of the legislative session on 2020? Maybe nothing

"The politics of who wins legislative elections have never been more divorced from what actually happens in St. Paul," one DFL operative said.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Gov. Tim Walz head into another round of budget negotiations Wednesday morning.

'Shame on us' if we can't find way to work together, Gov. Walz says about another long day of budget talks

Closed-door negotiations continue, with less public finger-pointing.
Rep. Dave Pinto, D-St. Paul, listened while Rob Doar of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus spoke against his bill in the Public Safety conference committ

Gov. Tim Walz vows to 'get results' amid long day of budget talks with GOP

Deadline looms on Monday.
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan returned to their offices after responding to the GOP budget offer Monday.

State budget dispute endgame: What are they fighting about?

Will Minnesota avert a state government shutdown? It's complicated. Here's a primer on the budget battle.
Democrats stood to applaud a statement by Gov. Tim Walz as Republicans stayed in their seats during the State of the State Address at the State Capito

As deadline nears, who wins and who loses if Legislature can't finish on time?

Negotiations on a state budget are stalled, so what would a stalemate mean for both sides going forward?