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Lori Sturdevant

Editorial writer and columnist | Opinion
Phone: 612-673-4505

Lori Sturdevant is a Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist who has written about Minnesota government and politics since 1978. She is also the author or editor of 11 books about notable Minnesotans. 

Sturdevant is a native of Dell Rapids, S.D., and a graduate of Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She has been a member of Coe's board of trustees for 30 years. Sturdevant lives in St. Paul with her husband. They have three grown children.
Recent content from Lori Sturdevant
Due to COVID restrictions, the Minnesota State Capitol remained fenced off to the public Jan. 4, the day before the start of the 2021 regular session

The politics of obstruction, Minnesota-style

Like the much-debated U.S. Senate filibuster, Minnesota's requirement of a supermajority to pass bonding bills is under scrutiny, and should be.
The Minnesota Legislature has the chance to pass legislation giving more support to families in need of child care.

Finally, women's value to workforce is acknowledged

It's beyond time for the state to provide more support for child care.
Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, is the author of new voter ID legislation in the Minnesota Senate.

Voter ID is back to haunt Minnesota democracy

The rejection of a constitutional amendment in 2012 should have been persuasive to proponents of this bad idea, but it wasn't.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz speaks from the Governor’s Reception room at the State Capitol, to discuss the latest steps in his response to COVID-19, on

The sorry state of 'One Minnesota' needs attention from Walz

He'll need broad support in order to lead effectively, and in November 2022.
A line of voters stood outside of First United Methodist Church as the sun rose in Duluth, Minn., on Nov. 3.

Minnesota voters still cross party lines

Recent trends toward partisan allegiance work against good government. Thankfully, some ticket-splitters remain with us.
The Supreme Court building in Washington, early on Oct. 12, before the first confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump�

Packing the court to save it? A Minnesota judicial moderate ponders

When word came that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died, one name popped out of my mental source file: retired Minnesota Supreme Court…
Mindy Greiling and her son, Jim.

REVIEW: 'Fix What You Can,' by Mindy Greiling

NONFICTION: A former legislator shares the compelling story of her son's schizophrenia.
Protesters gathered at the Capitol in St. Paul to protest climate change inaction in September of 2019.

If we wait any longer to take climate change seriously, it will be too late

Yet the Republican-led state Senate isn't taking the threat seriously.
Todd Gallagher prepares mail in ballot envelopes including an I Voted sticker, July 29, in Minneapolis.

Voters show every sign of turning out in force this year

Even if unprecedented numbers stay home while doing it.
The Minnesota Legislature met in special session July 13. Social distancing requires a small number of legislators in the House Chamber. The rest part

One (half) cheer for the Legislature

The failure to pass the bonding bill is painful.
George Floyd’s growing memorial outside Cup Foods at East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue on June 16..

In the fight for racial equity, why did the spark catch here, now?

The demography of our city and state, and how it's changed, can bring some insight to the big question many of us are asking.
Higher education, like the University of Minnesota, faces a budget crisis amid the pandemic.

Minnesota's higher education is facing a crisis

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual way of rebalancing budgets will put our colleges and universities at risk.

Minnesotans eager to vote as always — but not in the old way

It's up to legislators to tap the federal funding, update certain rules and bring clarity.
Researcher Lee Munnich in 2003.

Telework's moment of true arrival is bound to make ripples in Minnesota

The change we've been forced to make is likely to stick to some degree. And that has implications for Minnesota road funding.
Voters waited in line at the Peace United Church of Christ in Duluth's 15th precinct to cast their vote on Tuesday.

How it turned out for Minnesota to have a primary

Minnesota is not done figuring out how to do things best in total.
Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, at a news conference in 2016.

Minnesota Legislature's main event this year: the housing shortage

State Rep. Alice Hausman will be found leading the charge.
In 2010, promoters of the 2010 U.S. census held an event at the Midtown Global Market to encourage participation. The same spirit will be needed this

Excuse the pun: This census really counts for Minnesota

Federal funding and a congressional seat are in the balance for the state.
Illustration by Edel Rodriguez for the Star Tribune

Race in America: The conversation is not over

The way forward? Defend legal gains, but above all discuss, says a Minnesota civil-rights activist.

After nearly a century, has time arrived for ERA?

Every half-century or so, the quest to protect women's rights inches ahead.

Trump vs. Congress: A fundamental concern

Others can analyze the politics. I worry about the future of checks and balances.
Tom Horner in 2010, when he was the gubernatorial candidate of the Independence Party. He does not favor third parties on the national stage in 2020.

Minnesotans, don't be the spoilers in 2020

This state's voters long have supported third parties, but there's too much at risk in 2020.

Trade-war objections: You won't keep 'em down, on the farms

When a Farmers Union president speaks …
Duluth's experience requesting a sales tax boost is informative.

How cities raise money in modern-era Minnesota

Things aren't as rough as they were, but the state-local partnership needs a tuneup.

On clean energy, 'just say no' is turning into a political no-no

It's a good way to lose elections, based on the evidence from, say, western Minnesota.
Tim Flaherty

A 'just say no' status quo prevails at the State Capitol, I fear

Politics was once a means to an end. Now it's just the end.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan.

Time to step up for the poorest of the poor

The state's MFIP program is overdue for a boost, and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan can attest to both its value and its worthiness.
A ONE-MINNESOTA ADMINISTRATOR: Former House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, now transportation commissioner.

Could you sell a gas tax statewide?

That's the task before MnDOT's new leader, Margaret Anderson Kelliher. Who is suited to it.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar will announce Sunday if she's running for president.

Ranked choice might be right for primaries (and Klobuchar)

Amy Klobuchar is the type of candidate who might benefit from this voting method, and its use could be more than just a pipe dream.
Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, isn’t aligned with advocates of a nonpartisan redistricting commission. He wants to maximize his region’s clout.

Redistricting reform can't wait; so say its advocates

The push for a nonpartisan panel to draw political maps is needed now, before the new census breeds temptation, they argue.

How to hold onto Minnesota exceptionalism? Look to the immigrants who built, and are still building, a future here

Look to the immigrants who built — and are still building — a future here.
State Rep. Connie Bernardy, DFL-New Brighton.

The near future of higher ed at the State Capitol

Let's check in with two new legislative committee leaders about the challenges they'll face.
Gov.-elect Tim Walz and Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan huddled in a hallway before addressing the budget forecast at a State Capitol news conference Th

Circumstances thrust a critical issue on the governor-elect

It's climate change. Time is short, and the White House isn't doing the job. What can a state do? Plenty.
A long line formed at the tiny one room of Douglas Town Hall on Election Day on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, in the area of Douglas Township, Minn.

How to make government better? You have plenty to say

And so do two leading voices on the subject who are in town. (Ranked-choice voting, anyone?)
Math doesn't add up on state Social Security tax cut

Math doesn't add up on state Social Security tax cut

Exempting Social Security from taxes now would take an ever-bigger bite from state treasury.
U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson will be entering his 15th term.

Peterson, Emmer bridge the divide of geography and party

So perhaps U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson and Tom Emmer have something to show us.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar arrived at the DFL headquarters election party on Tuesday. Tellingly, she had been on Stephen Colbert’s late-night show the day b

Presidential prospects for the 'senator next door'

The style that's won Klobuchar so much Minnesota support can transfer — and is beginning to.

Your vote against hate this year will matter

That's a mission that events at the end of this campaign season have necessitated.

Economy is humming, but many candidates are running on fear

With low jobless rate, rising incomes, pols have a window to address tough issues.

We're in the danger zone of distrust

But there's a way out. It entails building relationships — for real, not for the sake of saying so.
Climate-news highlights gulf between congressional candidates Hagedorn and Feehan

Climate-news highlights gulf between congressional candidates Hagedorn and Feehan

Who are you going to believe about climate change — 91 scientists from 40 countries who draw conclusions from more than 6,000 scientific studies, or…

2018 campaign further widening our gender gap

How far apart are men and women? Watch midterm elections for a sign.

Retiring chamber leader Blazar has a message he hopes has staying power

Immigration and Minnesota: Better together.

Minnesota's business leaders want a commitment from candidates, and it's not tax cuts

Do would-be governors know the tools to solve a skilled-worker shortage?
Joe Radinovich, then a state representative, in 2014. As a Republican super-PAC attacks the DFL congressional candidate for past driving infractions,

Hyperbolic attack ads, anti-Radinovich edition

Here's what you really ought to know about the candidate.
DFL challenger Dean Phillips and Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen greeted each other at the end of their debate in August.

Congressional candidate Dean Phillips wages his own kind of challenge

He stresses campaign finance reform in his bid to unseat Rep. Erik Paulsen, even as national party pols resist that tack.
Hubert Humphrey (in 1966) was the Democratic presidential candidate in 1968.

New book on a favorite son holds timeless truths and tantalizing what ifs

Humphrey biography highlights importance of acting on one's principles.
Gov. Mark Dayton took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at the Minnesota State Fair in 2014. It’s a moment in his State Fair history, which also includes

Interviewing Gov. Mark Dayton at the Minnesota State Fair, year eight

He's been remarkably consistent about his policy priorities. The basics don't change, he says.
Newer kids on the block: DFLer Tim Walz, left, and Republican Jeff Johnson won their respective gubernatorial primaries on Tuesday. Their opponents in

We're not in 2006 anymore, candidates and pundits

Minnesota has changed over 12 years, and the primaries showed it.
Jim Nichols with Erin Murphy at Farmfest. Nichols, a southwestern Minnesota farmer and elder statesman in state politics, is endorsing Murphy this yea

A word from Farmfest: State may soon be managing a crisis

In that context, a former ag commissioner is backing Erin Murphy for governor.

He's no longer a candidate, but Chris Coleman still stumps hard — for affordable housing

Otherwise, there's very little talk about this topic.
#MeToo has not subsided. It's on this year's ballot.

#MeToo has not subsided. It's on this year's ballot.

Witness Rick Nolan's troubles. Witness resentment over Al Franken's departure.
State Rep. Sheldon Johnson, DFL-St. Paul, during this year’s session.

Retiring legislator continues to serve by telling the story of what beset him

Sheldon Johnson wants to get the word out about his insidious nemesis: Lyme disease.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Karin Housley is a South St. Paul native. Here, she campaigned in Coon Rapids.

A place of influence: South St. Paul

It has plenty of political history — and this year is a prime political crucible.

Just like that, abortion is an issue in Minnesota this fall

With changes at the U.S. Supreme Court, those elected in our state this November may face a decision as soon as 2020.

Immigration and the Minnesota governor's race

For this state, it's a workforce issue. We need light, not heat.

Candidate filing gone wild in Minnesota: Was it the endorsement system's valediction?

What to make of DFL's several wide-open races.

At Minnesota's Un-Convention, bipartisan groups tack toward the center

A sense that partisanship is now so extreme that it poses a risk to the republic may have spurred turnout.

Questions for candidates in Minnesota's 2018 campaign

On legislative effectiveness, the rural-urban divide and much more.

U regent selection was distorted by abortion politics

The vote did not seem to be about the good of the university.

Minnesota's state universities will fuel the future. So … legislators?

Public higher education must not be neglected.

Questions about the Legislature? Answers here.

On its size, influences, vacancies, constitutional obligations and more.

Minnesota's Eighth is a much-changed congressional district

It embodies many political and social trends and worries. A look at some numbers:
State Rep. Paul Thissen on Tuesday, when he was introduced as the newest Minnesota Supreme Court justice, replacing David Stras.

The 'how' of passing legislation in Minnesota: Still a mess

Longtime legislator Paul Thissen, on his way to the state Supreme Court, had some thoughts about this.

The Pawlenty advantage: In governor's race, he's known

Governor's race has strong field, but how many know that?
Lobbyist Sue Abderholden (middle) at the Legislature in 2017. Her task list this year has expanded.

There's extra policy pressure this year at the Minnesota Legislature for mental health

This might have been a quieter year for this topic than it's turned out to be.

New generation enters rough-and-tumble of politics in Minnesota, and impresses

Whether the old generation is ready to receive them is another question.

Ending poverty in Minnesota is behind schedule. A Republican plan wouldn't help.

A fair summation of proposed Medicaid work requirement: First, do harm.
“There are all kinds of ways that this creates a bad situation. It’s going to be hard … to protect lower- and middle-income families.” -- Nan

State-level tax changes: Minnesota's key players are in place

Following federal reform, Minnesota's concerns are business-friendliness and equity to all income levels.

Guns and public safety: Legislators are people, too — and sometimes an issue just hits home

Is this time really different? At the Capitol, signs of hope.
Republican state Sen. Carla Nelson, of Rochester, mingled with supporters after announcing her candidacy for the First Congressional District seat in

Candidates who switch capitols are rarer these days

A good test of whether voters like their congressional candidates legislatively seasoned will come in Minnesota's First District this year.
Gov. Rudy Perpich in 1989. The bulk of his time in office came after a four-year stint away.

How a Minnesota governor could get a sequel

Tim Pawlenty seems to have an itch for it. But Rudy Perpich provides the model.
The Met Council has grown into a highly effective, award-winning provider of public infrastructure and services. It also grew into a political footbal

Met Council is another of Minnesota's miracles

Our success is a regional story — at risk of an unhappy ending.

A wave of women on Minnesota ballots — one side, mostly

#MeToo brings a lineup of special-election hopefuls.
Ted Kolderie, author of the memoir/history/policy book “Thinking Out the How.”

Good policymaking still has a chance — at the state level

That's where innovation is most likely, bringing federalism full circle.

Immigration has a business case in Minnesota — and a faith case

For starters, the state's shortage isn't in jobs but in workers.