Staff Directory 6370530

Jessie Van Berkel

Reporter | Politics and Government

Jessie Van Berkel writes about Minnesota government and politics at the Star Tribune. She previously covered St. Paul City Hall and local government in the south metro.


Before joining the Star Tribune, Van Berkel reported on city and county government in Sarasota, Fla., and public safety and courts in Appleton, Wis. She is a Minnesota native who returned to her home state to work for the Star Tribune in 2014. She's a University of Minnesota graduate and a proud Minnesota Daily alumna. Outside of work, she is usually hiking, biking, camping or planning her next travel adventure. Her home is frequently littered with travel books.
Recent content from Jessie Van Berkel
Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen bowed his head as his running mate Matt Birk spoke as they conceded the race to Gov. Tim Walz at the v

'Time to get a better product': State GOP digs deep after losses

The party points to Roe decision and a lack of organizing power in explaining defeats in the state as they look to 2024. For even the most seasoned party veterans, the path forward is murkier than ever.
Minnesota has two political parties focused on legalizing marijuana.

One of Minnesota's marijuana parties loses major party status

The Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party failed to meet the required vote threshold, but some in the party are pleased.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison spoke to supporters with U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar at his side early Wednesday morning at the Intercontinental Hot

DFL Attorney General Keith Ellison heads into second term looking to 'better things'

Ellison won re-election as the state's chief legal officer by a margin of less than 1%.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison spoke to supporters with Rep. Ilhan Omar at his side early Wednesday morning at the Intercontinental Hotel in

Attorney General Keith Ellison wins second term as GOP opponent concedes

GOP challenger Jim Schultz said he was calling Ellison to congratulate him on winning the race.
Gov. Tim Walz took the stage after winning re-election at the DFL election night victory party.

5 takeaways from Minnesota's midterm election

Here are some key outcomes from Election Day in Minnesota and nationwide.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz spoke at get-out-the-vote rallies Friday at the Minnesota State Capitol i

Minnesota candidates draw national support as election nears

Democrats and Republicans held dueling Capitol rallies, as state reports more than 450K Minnesotans have already voted.
Governor Tim Walz and GOP challenger Scott Jensen shook hands after facing off in their final debate held at the Fitzgerald Theater Friday, Oct. 28, i

DFL Gov. Walz spends big in final election push

GOP candidate for governor Scott Jensen's campaign says he is fundraising at a "breakneck pace."
DFL Gov. Tim Walz and GOP challenger Scott Jensen faced off in their final debate on Oct. 28 in St. Paul.

Cash streams into Minnesota races during final election push

Tens of millions in outside spending fuel battles for statewide offices and legislative control.
From left: James McCaskel, Legal Marijuana Now Party; Gabrielle Prosser, Socialist Workers Party; Hugh McTavish, Independence-Alliance Party; Steve Pa

Longshot candidates could influence Minnesota elections

From governor to state auditor to Congress, candidates for third parties are offering their visions for Minnesota.
María Isa Pérez-Hedges, a DFL candidate for the Minnesota House, spoke during a Get out the Vote event put on by Movimiento in October at El Tequila

Voters of color critical to Minn. candidates' election hopes

Both political parties are courting communities of color as the state grows more diverse, but some say efforts are falling short.
Minneapolis voice actor Ian Fishman only does ads for candidates he supports or against those he dislikes.

For voice actors, campaign season is gig season in Minnesota

Demand for political voiceover work has ballooned, and party allegiance, geography and ethnicity can factor into who is hired.
GOP governor candidate Scott Jensen said he hasn’t sought political endorsements.

Trump endorses Scott Jensen, Kim Crockett in Minnesota races

The former president's endorsements come two weeks before Election Day.
GOP governor candidate Scott Jensen wants to eliminate Minnesota’s income tax over eight years.

GOP's Jensen proposed ending Minnesota income tax: But how to pay for it?

The tax generates more than half the state's general fund.
Republican Scott Jensen, left, and DFL Gov. Tim Walz debated each other Tuesday night in Rochester, three weeks before Election Day.

Walz, Jensen clash in only TV debate in Minn. governor's race

With three weeks until Election Day, the two offered sharply contrasting views on what they would do with the next four years in the state's top job.
DFL Rep. Angie Craig and GOP challenger Tyler Kistner are facing off again this election.

Craig, Kistner battle over economy, abortion in top-dollar House race

Tens of millions have poured into a rematch that could help determine which party controls the U.S. House.
A rendering from Minnesota’s pitch to host the 2027 World’s Fair.

Minnesota makes pitch for World's Fair estimated to generate roughly $2.5B

Bloomington is vying to host the 2027 event that is expected to attract 14 million visitors.
Attorney General Keith Ellison’s campaign held a Doorknock and Rally for Environmental Justice event Saturday in Minneapolis.

Democrat Keith Ellison paints 'stark' contrast in attorney general's race

GOP challenger Jim Schultz said Ellison has not done enough to support police and combat rising crime.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, seen here at a news conference with local leaders in July, plans to seek  a fourth term in 2024.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar to seek re-election in 2024

Klobuchar's spokeswoman said she supports President Biden's plan to run for a second term.
Legal Marijuana Now candidate Paula Overby has died. She was running for Congress in Minnesota’s Second District.

Second Congressional District candidate Paula Overby dies

She is the second Legal Marijuana Now candidate running for the seat to die shortly before an election in recent years.
Frontline worker Keith Farr, a meat cutter at Lunds & Byerlys, spoke during a news conference at the State Capitol announcing frontline worker pay of

Pandemic front-line workers will each get $487 from state

More than 1 million people will receive payments, which start going out Wednesday.
GOP candidate for governor Scott Jensen greeted Lynn Paulsen, right, a former classmate from Sleepy Eye High School, as Jensen campaigned on Sept. 10

Scott Jensen runs on 'core convictions' in bid for Minnesota governor

The pandemic spurred the Chaska physician to run. Now he hopes a divided state will elect a Republican governor for the first time in more than a decade.
Republican attorney general candidate Jim Schultz said he didn’t fill out the Minnesota Family Council questionnaire that said he supports an aborti

Minnesota DFL slams GOP attorney general candidate over questionnaire he calls 'categorically false'

The Minnesota Family Council says it "inferred" that Jim Schultz wants to ban abortion after six weeks.
A mural on Mercado Central on E. Lake Street.

Mercado Central demands Jensen campaign stop using its image in ads

Jensen and others in the GOP are aiming to bolster support among Latino voters.
DFL Gov. Tim Walz, left, has more cash heading into the final stretch than GOP challenger Scott Jensen.

Jensen's fundraising jumps, but Walz still has far more cash

About six weeks until Election Day, most Democrats for statewide offices have more cash saved.
Most DFL incumbents running for statewide offices in Minnesota have significant cash advantages over their GOP opponents.

Jensen's fundraising jumps, but Walz still has far more

With six weeks until Election Day, most Democrats for statewide offices have more cash saved.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, left, and Republican challenger Jim Schultz.

Minnesota Poll: Ellison, Schultz in close race for attorney general

Secretary of State Steve Simon leads GOP challenger Kim Crockett, with voters confident in midterm election accuracy.
Some new legislative districts are sprawling and oddly shaped.

Minnesota legislative candidates traverse some sprawling new districts

Reshaped House and Senate boundaries left some candidates courting disparate communities.
The Legislature adjourned in May after failing to pass supplemental budget and tax bills.

Local groups press leaders for Minnesota Legislature special session

Much of state legislators' work was left unfinished in May.
Olivia Barr, 25, of Minneapolis, was pleasantly surprised when she learned last month that virtually all her student debt would be canceled owing to t

Minnesotans who get student loan relief could face tax bill

Some DFL legislators are pressing for a quick Capitol deal to avoid higher taxes for borrowers.
On the morning of Aug. 26, Radja Lohse, a volunteer at the Republican booth at the State Fair, placed the American flag in its holder and said, “The

People don't come to State Fair for politics. But politics comes for them.

With about two months until Election Day, candidates are competing with Pronto Pups and giant pigs for fairgoers' attention.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen, right, and lieutenant governor candidate Matt Birk outlined their education plan Tuesday at the Minnesota St

GOP governor candidate Scott Jensen calls for vouchers, parental oversight of schools

Jensen unveiled a 10-point education plan Tuesday at the Minnesota State Fair.
DFL Gov. Tim Walz, left, and GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen debated for the first time at Farmfest on Aug. 3. Moderating the debate was Bloi

Campaign check: Did Gov. Tim Walz cancel candidate debates?

Walz's campaign said he has been invited to 19 debates and can't fit them all in; Jensen says the governor is "hiding."
Far fewer Minnesotans voted in the Aug. 9 primary election compared to the last midterm battle four years ago.

Four takeaways from Minnesota primary election turnout

Turnout was down statewide compared to 2018, but not everywhere or for both parties.
Judge Jodi Williamson commended Minnesota Director of Elections David Maeda on a smooth process during a meeting of the State Canvassing Board to cert

Minnesota board makes primary, special election results official

The five-member board unanimously signed off on the Aug. 9 results with little fanfare.
How is your vote counted?

How is your vote counted?

Whether you vote in person or by mail, there are numerous checks to ensure an accurate count.
Rep. Brad Finstad, R-Minn., was joined by wife Jaclyn, center, and their family on he was sworn in by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday in Washingt

Minnesota's newly elected GOP U.S. Rep. Brad Finstad sworn in

He called Jim Hagedorn, whose seat he is filling, a "true fighter."
The battle is on for control of the Minnesota State Capitol

Minnesota legislative battles shape up after Tuesday's primary

Further-right candidates won in handful of GOP primaries.
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar waved to passersby for support during a voter engagement event on the corner of Broadway and Central Avenue in Minneapolis on Tue

5th District DFL primary shows division over Rep. Omar's tenure

The two-term congresswoman won a narrow victory Tuesday over former Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels. Precinct mapping shows where Omar did well in the 2020 DFL primary vs. Tuesday's closer race
Betty McCollum and Amane Badhasso

Longtime U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum beats challenger Amane Badhasso in Fourth District DFL primary

McCollum has decades of congressional experience; Badhasso had said it's time for new leadership.
Jim Schultz and Doug Wardlow

Jim Schultz wins GOP attorney general primary over Doug Wardlow

Schultz will now compete against DFL Attorney General Keith Ellison in November.
Voter Lydia Beattie of Minneapolis held son Faris, 6 months, at a polling place in Powderhorn Park on Tuesday.

Minnesota voters decide who will advance in today's primary

Top races on the ballot include congressional seats, statewide offices and legislative primaries. There's also a special election in the First Congressional District in southern Minnesota.
Voter Lydia Beattie of Minneapolis holds her son Faris, 6 months, after Beattie voted Tuesday at Powderhorn Park.

Minnesota voters go to polls today to decide primary battles

There are intraparty faceoffs for Congress, attorney general and more.
Election judge Dr. Hayet Abbassi assists voters at the Minneapolis early voting center on Wednesday, Aug. 3.

Early voting for Minnesota primary election plummets from pandemic spike

The record early voter numbers seen at start of the pandemic two years ago have not continued in 2022.
Jim Schultz and Doug Wardlow

Schultz, Wardlow see high stakes for Republicans in AG race

For political newcomer Jim Schultz, tackling rising crime is priority number one. His opponent, Doug Wardlow, has staked out positions to the right of Schultz, including claiming he will "wage war" on the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling allowing abortions.
Rick Weible addressed the Sherburne County Board on July 12. He said the group he founded, “Midwest Swamp Watch,” has talked with 25 Minnesota cou

'Feels like it's a whack-a-mole': Minnesota election officials on misinformation front lines

Activists have zeroed in on local officials as they call for hand counts and eliminating drop boxes.
Ellen Goldberg Luger will serve as a minister counselor of agriculture in Rome for the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service.

Minnesotan Ellen Goldberg Luger appointed to USDA foreign service

The Minnesotan said she will be focused on global food security.
Health workers cared for a patient with COVID-19 at M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center in September 2021.

Minnesota will start winnowing pile of pandemic 'hero pay' applications

More than 1 million Minnesotans sought a state payment for frontline pandemic work.
Minnesota attorney general candidates Keith Ellison (DFL, incumbent), Jim Schultz (GOP) and Doug Wardlow (GOP).

Roe's fall raises stakes in race for Minnesota attorney general

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and the two top GOP candidates vying to replace him this fall are weighing the office's legal options post-Roe, from responding to potential abortion-related extradition orders to intervening in civil cases.
Tyler Kistner, photographed at the state Republican convention in May, is two months late in filing a required disclosure about his personal finances.

U.S. Rep. Angie Craig files complaint against GOP challenger Tyler Kistner over late disclosure filing

Kistner's campaign said it was an administrative oversight.
Bob Loonan speaking at the State Capitol, 2018.

Legislative candidate Bob Loonan faces hearing over complaint about campaign literature

The state House candidate says the flier in question was from 2016.
Workers from Teen Teamworks picked up litter, including remnants of exploded fireworks, at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis the day after gunfire at th

Walz, Craig highlight public safety efforts; GOP condemns rising crime

The Democratic leaders emphasized public safety spending Friday, but said more is needed.
Jenni Loebel offered fresh strawberries to her kids Brynn, 4, and JJ, 2 at the Lakeville Farmer’s Market, Market Plaza.

Inflation and abortion rights are top of mind as midterms near

The fight for the Second Congressional District in the Twin Cities suburbs — Minnesota's last pure battleground — offers a microcosm of the congressional races playing out across the country.
Phyllis Cross sat along the edge of Buffalo Lake, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, Buffalo, Minn. ] GLEN STUBBE • glen.stubbe@startribune.com

Are the Jan. 6 hearings changing minds in Minnesota?

While some are tuning into every hearing, others said they aren't paying attention.
Gov. Tim Walz celebrates after signing a bill to direct payments to frontline workers and replenish the unemployment insurance trust fund.

'Hero Pay' applications flood into Minnesota

Some child care providers are among those left out.
A video showing Jared Kushner, adviser to former President Donald Trump, speaking during an interview with the Jan. 6 Committee is shown as the House

Minnesotans weigh in on Jan. 6 hearings

Readers offered their take on the congressional hearings in Washington.
Minnesota’s pitch includes flashy renderings of an “Expo district” composed of modern, nature-inspired architecture next to the Mall of America.

Against soundtrack of Dylan and Lizzo, Minnesota makes pitch to host 2027 World's Fair

The state presented a health-focused vision for the event as it competes with four other global destinations.
A video of former President Donald Trump speaking during a rally, as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol

Tell us what you think about the Jan. 6 hearings

The House committee investigating the root causes of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection is holding a series of televised hearings that outline what led to…
Psychiatrists like those working at Community Behavioral Health Hospital in Baxter are among the top paid state employees.

14 of Minnesota's 20 top-paid state workers are psychiatrists

Mental health experts have long ranked among those making the most in the state's massive workforce.
State Sen. Omar Fateh is facing two ethics complaints.

Ethics Committee hears complaints against DFL Sen. Omar Fateh

An attorney for the Minneapolis legislator said allegations against him are "based in rumor."
Sienna Stadtmueller hugged one of her cats, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, in Wayzata. Jill Stadtmueller’s teenage daughter Sienna, 13, has been struggling

Minnesota to spend $93M on mental health

Demand for services has climbed, prompting state leaders to strike a last-minute deal.
A personal care attendant, Delia Spencer-Hartwig saw her income stream decimated during the pandemic and she fell four months behind on rent payments.

Minnesota's renter protections end as evictions have spiked

Eviction filings in Minnesota have surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
The Minnesota Legislature left plenty of work on the table after hitting their deadline to adjourn at midnight on Sunday.

What did — and didn't — get done at the Minnesota Capitol this legislative session

Legislators left plenty of work on the table as they negotiate a possible special session.
Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, who leads the Senate Transportation Committee, said he would like to pass some matching dollars before August.

State Capitol stalemate could risk federal infrastructure dollars

Local governments and MnDOT call for fast action, but a GOP legislator said it's not the emergency they are claiming.
The Legacy dollars will support dozens of projects statewide, including restoring wildlife habitat in the Mississippi headwaters.

Minnesota legislators dedicate $159M to outdoor areas

Some lawmakers pressed for additional Legacy spending this session.
Diego Esquivel and Linda Klaasson comforted each other Wednesday as they honored the victims killed in Tuesday’s shooting at Robb Elementary School

Minnesota leaders' response to Texas school shooting shows political divide over guns

It's unlikely that grief will translate into policy changes.
Representatives spoke in the House chamber during a recess Sunday, May 24, before a midnight deadline to pass bills.

Billions in limbo as retiring legislators say farewell

Gov. Tim Walz ended a meeting with top legislative leaders on Monday with no timeline or clarity on next steps. Walz said he's ready to call legislators back, but Republicans in the Senate asked for a few days to "decompress."
Rep. Heather Edelson and Rep. Emma Greenman spoke with another legislator in the House Chamber during a recess Sunday at the state Capitol.

Legislators leave work undone; short special session possible

Gov. Tim Walz planned to meet with House and Senate leaders early Monday morning to hash out the details of a short special session to wrap up agreed-upon bills, which could happen as early as this week.
Endorsed governor candidate Scott Jensen, right, took the stage with running mate Matt Birk, left, and Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy, center, after Murp

Minn. Republicans call for unity after bruising convention fight

Party leaders stressed the GOP must overcome differences to end a losing streak in statewide races. Attorney general hopeful Doug Wardlow decided to press on to the primary.
GOP candidate for governor Scott Jensen toot the stage with running mate Matt Birk Saturday at the Republican State Convention in Rochester.

Republicans back Scott Jensen in Minnesota governor's race

The doctor and former state senator narrowly beat Kendall Qualls after a heated fight in Rochester for the GOP endorsement.
GOP attorney general candidate Jim Schultz left the stage with his wife, Molly, and their children, Friday at the Minnesota State Republican Conventio

Minnesota Republicans back newcomer as AG hopeful

Candidates for the two key statewide offices focused on election security and crime as the GOP state convention kicked off Friday. Saturday will bring the biggest task: choosing a candidate for governor from a crowded field.
Delegates recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the convention.

Minnesota Republicans endorse Kim Crockett for secretary of state

GOP delegates also endorsed Ryan Wilson for state auditor.
Lacy Johnson is running on the ticket of Republican Mike Murphy.

GOP candidate for governor Mike Murphy picks running mate

Lacy Johnson, who challenged U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar in 2020, is running with Murphy.
The stage was being prepared Thursday for this weekend’s Minnesota State Republican Convention at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.

How do Minnesota's political endorsement conventions work?

What to know about the upcoming Republican and DFL state conventions.
The 2022 session is nearing an end against the backdrop of a historic budget surplus and election-year politics.

2022 legislative session: What's at stake, issue by issue

We track the status of top issues ahead of the Legislature's May 23 adjournment.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland joined Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan after a news conference Friday at Midway Peace Park in St. P

U.S. interior secretary touts urban park funding in St. Paul visit

U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber and mining advocates called on Secretary Deb Haaland to visit northern Minnesota.