Staff Directory 6370505

Patricia Lopez

Editorial Writer | Opinion

Patricia Lopez joined the editorial board in 2016 and writes about national and state politics, including Congress, tax policy, budgets, immigration, guns, criminal justice, trade, elections and other issues. Lopez was the political editor from 2009 to 2016, directing coverage for the Star Tribune’s Washington, D.C. and State Capitol bureaus, including the Legislature, the Minnesota congressional delegation and elections. Previously she was the Star Tribune’s chief political writer, covering state government, budget and tax policy and U.S. Senate and gubernatorial elections.

Lopez can be heard frequently offering political analysis on the Playing Politics podcast, a joint venture between the Star Tribune Editorial Board and WCCO-AM. Lopez previously worked at the Cincinnati Enquirer, Roanoke Times, Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times.
Recent content from Patricia Lopez
Gov. Tim Walz

Playing Politics podcast: New budget, same gridlock

Gov. Tim Walz's proposal was met with Republican reluctance. Hear the "Playing Politics" analysis from WCCO Radio's Chad Hartman and the Star Tribune's Patricia Lopez and John Rash.
Gov. Tim Walz.

Gov. Tim Walz on Minnesota's future: 'The clock is ticking'

Gov. Tim Walz spoke with the Star Tribune's Patricia Lopez on the challenges facing Minnesota.
Shirred eggs are simple, but look very elegant.

It's prime time for the versatile egg

Whether it's spring brunch or Easter breakfast, the egg suits the season far beyond scrambled and poached.
House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, right, and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller talk about the proposed balanced-budget solution.

Pawlenty's eager to veto DFL taxes

The Senate and House passed a plan that includes a $435 million tax increase, and there's the rub.
Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks during a campaign event at the Veterans Memorial Building Thursday in

Republicans: Huckabee surges to a critical win

Mike Huckabee scored an impressive victory, capping one of the most remarkable come-from-nowhere triumphs in recent history.
Newly appointed Chief Justice Eric Magnuson.

Attorney Eric Magnuson is named new chief justice

The prominent appellate lawyer has led the judicial selection commission for Gov. Pawlenty. He will be the first person who is not a justice to take the top job in decades.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty held up his "friend," his veto pen, while addressing delegates at the Republican state convention at the Mayo Civic Center.

Pawlenty exhorts GOP to restore optimism of Reagan era

Speaking at the state party's convention, the governor said people deserve leaders "who are hopeful, optimistic, decent" and called upon Republicans to provide that leadership. Beforehand, he again demurred on talk of his vice presidential prospects.
Al Franken, with his wife Franni by his side, addressed the media on Monday after the state Canvassing Board certified the results of the U.S. Senate

Recount: Results certified, Franken up, but no senator yet

Al Franken's 225-vote lead was unanimously certified by the state Canvassing Board, but Norm Coleman's planned court challenge will keep Franken from taking his seat when the Senate convenes today.

Carey will step down as GOP chair

The Shoreview businessman, noting a tough political climate for Republicans across the U.S., said, "Sometimes, maybe it's best for the cause to have a fresh face out there."

Bill to raise Minn. income tax just gets by in Senate

The vote follows a bitter, long debate. A similar measure is in the House, but Gov. Pawlenty has vowed he'll veto any tax increase.

Rep. Wagenius is bruised but OK after crash

The Minneapolis DFLer's car was totaled by a suspected drunken driver after a late-night session at the Capitol.

Entenza announces bid for governor in '10

The former DFL House minority leader says he will run on issues of clean energy and job growth.
Visitors roamed the stairways at the State Capitol in St. Paul. The Minnesota Legislature is supposed to adjourn on May 18, but negotiations over Hous

House tax bill sets up a 3-way battle

The plan from majority Democrats draws ire of Pawlenty aide, Senate DFL.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty

Time nears for Pawlenty to cast his vote

An election certificate is the key prize in the Minnesota Senate race -- but only if the governor signs it.

One justice gave to Coleman, another to Wellstone

The campaign donations by the two Supreme Court members predated their appointment to the bench.

Senate recount down to 387 ballots that will be opened and counted today

As the three-judge panel nears a decision, both sides are preparing for the next step.

DFL dilemma: Education vs. health care

As the financial pie shrinks, the Legislature's DFL majority is battling itself over what must be reduced.

Sex Offender Program needs $16M

Minnesota's controversial Sex Offender Program will run out of money next month unless a bill to cover a $16 million shortfall gets quick action in the state Senate.

House DFLers propose $1.5 billion in tax increases to close budget gap

With three proposals on the table, legislators and Gov. Pawlenty now can start negotiating.

House DFL offers bold tax proposal

The revenue-neutral plan would limit a variety of deductions and credits used by many Minnesota families and businesses.

Schools face a nearly $1 billion cut in DFL proposal

The Senate plan also includes a 7% budget cut that slices nearly across the board. Reaction made for unusual allies.

Minnesota's budget deficit: $4.57B

With the $1.3 billion in federal help, the state still has a $4.57 billion spending gap for 2010-11.

In St. Paul, capitol crowd braces for wild budget ride

"This is not a roller coaster we're on, it's a corkscrew or one of those crazy upside-down rides where everybody gets sick," said House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis.
Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson in his office at the Judicial Center.

Showdown could leave our courts in chaos

As Gov. Pawlenty looks to cut budgets, the chief justice he appointed is playing hardball over the justice system's future.
Erin Murphy at the Veranda Coffee shop

So, how would you fix Minnesota?

That's what we -- and legislators -- asked Thursday of the people in St. Cloud.

Expand sales tax, panel advises

Pawlenty's reaction is said to be cool, and legislators are baffled by proposal to repeal corporate tax.

Stimulus plan could mean $3B for Minn.

It would put money into the state budget and, according to the White House, retain or create up to 66,000 jobs here.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty

Minnesota's red ink: $7 billion?

Pawlenty warns that next month's economic forecast could show a deficit of $6 billion, or even $7 billion.

Corporate tax: A stinker that pays

Many share Gov. Tim Pawlenty's dislike of business taxes, but his plan to halve them raises questions: Will jobs be created? How will we make up the lost money?
Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced on Tuesday his budget proposal for 2010-11. At $33.6 billion, it would be 2.2 percent less than the current budget, but it

Shrinking Minnesota budget would be first since '86

Pawlenty says state must do more than erase $4.8 billion deficit, but some will see a heavy cost.

Obama plan might mean big boost for pinched Minnesota

The federal stimulus could provide a key infusion of cash as Minnesota lawmakers try to tackle the $4.8 billion deficit.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty saluted National Guard Sgt. Chad Malmberg, a Silver Star recipient, during his State of the State address Thursday in the state Hous

Pawlenty's deficit plan: Freeze, cut

Gov. Tim Pawlenty's State of the State address set the stage for a clash of wills with a heavily DFL-controlled Legislature.

Pawlenty expected to call for cuts in every corner

When he gives his State of the State address, he will offer up a fiscally Spartan vision.

Franken tries to sidestep courts

He asks Pawlenty, Ritchie to certify him as winner, but citing state law, they decline.
Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie

Cutting costs may have had own price

Local ballot counting in the Senate recount saved the state $2 million, but varying standards is a key argument in the court case.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty presides over a staff budget meeting in the Governor's Reception room.

A fiscal fitness test

How Gov. Tim Pawlenty stands up to the challenge of a $5.2 billion state budget deficit will largely shape his political future.

Pawlenty's first slice: $271 million

The governor's emergency budget cuts hit health care, local governments and higher education hard -- and more is to come.

Pawlenty plans to cut funds for local governments

Gov. Tim Pawlenty will cut money for cities and counties and for human services to make up for a $426 million short-term deficit.
Larry Pogemiller and Margaret Anderson Kelliher were among the DFL leaders who spoke of their focus on job growth, despite coming cuts.

Minnesota is $5.2 billion in the hole

Painful cuts and even a governmental overhaul are in the offing. Friday morning, Gov. Pawlenty and legislators will begin to take on the staggering deficit.

How bad is Minnesota's budget deficit? Mega-bad

Today's two-year projection could be as high as $6 billion; "every spending program, every tax has to be on the table." The news will be delivered at an 11:15 a.m. press conference.
The recount in the U.S. Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken continued Saturday morning at the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings.

Rejected absentee votes may decide it

Even as the U.S. Senate race recount forged ahead, both sides are massing their troops in the next battle over piles of disputed ballots.

How many ways can voting go wrong?

Some voters whose absentee ballots were rejected are stunned to find out what happened.
All eyes were focused on a ballot held up by Minneapolis Election Judge Marge Dolan. She was surrounded, from the left, by fellow Judge Julia Nelson,

Recount: Norm Coleman's lead over Al Franken shrinks

With about 18% of the vote recounted, Coleman still leads Franken -- but by only 174 votes. Franken's gain owed much to a swing of 23 votes in the Democratic stronghold of St. Louis County.
Norm Coleman, Al Franken

Coleman leads Franken by 206 votes

The Coleman and Franken campaigns traded shots Monday as counties completed the process of certifying their vote tallies and officials prepared to start recounting nearly 3 million ballots in the U.S. Senate race.

Franken seeks names of rejected voters

The DFLer hopes to force counties across the state to turn over the lists of rejected absentee voters who, if later found eligible, could tip the balance in the closest Senate race in the country.

Ready, set...recount

Local officials will be working in the 87 counties under the scrutiny of top lawyers brought in by candidates Norm Coleman and Al Franken.

Recount to stretch into mid-December

The secretary of state appointed four judges to certify Senate election and rule on any disputes; the recount starts Wednesday.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s “mother lode of tax breaks” plan would give investors in regtional funds tax credits of $20 million over four years.

Pawlenty unveils package of tax breaks

Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed what he called the "mother lode of tax breaks" to companies that create so-called green jobs in the burgeoning field of renewable energy.
Norm Coleman, Al Franken

Tension escalates as recount fluctuates

As Norm Coleman's lead over Al Franken was cut to 221 votes, charges flew as fast as the tally changed.
Norm Coleman, Al Franken

Recount: The Coleman-Franken brawl drags on

Sen. Norm Coleman's lead over challenger Al Franken in the U.S. Senate race narrowed even more, guaranteeing a recount that could stretch well into next month.
A woman tried to hold back tears as she listened to President-elect Barack Obama’s acceptance speech Tuesday night. She was one of hundreds of DFLer

Minnesotans try to sort out the lessons of '08

Republicans take some solace in blocking a veto-proof state House majority, while the Obama triumph should give Minnesota more influence in the new Congress.

Senate race 100% counted: Coleman on top

With 100 percent of the 4,130 precincts reporting, Sen. Norm Coleman had an unofficial margin of several hundred votes out of nearly 2.9 million cast. Challenger Al Franken said this morning he would exercise his right to a recount.
Norm Coleman, Dean Barkley and Al Franken, left to right.

Final U.S. Senate debate a punishing, verbal slugfest

Franken, Coleman and Barkley blasted one another as audience members cheered, booed, hissed and even catcalled.
Sen. Norm Coleman speaks at a news conference in Moorhead, Minn. He said allegations in a lawsuit that a friend and donor funneled $75,000 to an insur

Coleman, Franken hip deep in fracas

Norm Coleman accused Al Franken of being connected to a suit involving his wife. Franken denied it.
Split decisions could be key to election

Split decisions could be key to election

Voters who cross party lines on the same ballot could hold the key to a race's outcome.

Obama, Coleman lead in new state poll

The St. Cloud State survey has the White House race tight and the Senate incumbent moving ahead of Franken.
Sen. Norm Coleman's garage in St. Paul was vandalized overnight. Coleman's wife and daughter were home but said they didn't hear anything.

6 Minnesota politicians' homes defaced

Vandals struck the garages and homes of six Minnesota members of Congress, spray-painting graffiti that called for them to resign and included a biblical reference to "Psalm 2."
Minnesota Senatorial candidate Al Franken was greeted by a passerby as he made his way to play catch with a staff member at a park at S. Chicago Avenu

Al Franken: On a serious mission

From comedian to candidate. From satire to public policy. It's a difficult leap, but Al Franken is determined to make it.
Republican Sen. Norm Coleman

Coleman withdraws all negative ads

He says that during the financial crisis, instead of adding to the "negativity," politics should "lift people up with hope." His opponents expressed skepticism.
Dean Barkely, Norm Coleman, Al Franken

U.S. Senate candidates spar in first of five meetings

Dean Barkley got in some of the hardest shots of the night, Norm Coleman defended his six-year career in the Senate and Al Franken linked Coleman's votes to campaign donations.

Franni Franken gets personal in ad

Al Franken's wife talks about her alcoholism in an ad that seeks to humanize him and counter the GOP image of Franken as too ill-tempered to serve in the Senate.

Franken opposes bailout bill

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken had harsh words for the economic rescue bill that passed the Senate on Wednesday night, calling it a "sacrifice at the altar of financial mismanagement" and a "terrible end to a terrible presidency."

Gore warmly endorses Franken

The former vice president lavished praise on the former entertainer, but Rep. Jim Oberstar urged Franken to "disown" the Playboy satire that has lately dogged him.

Franken apologizes, wins DFL support

Endorsed by acclamation, he vowed to take the election battle to Sen. Norm Coleman, while bracing for more attacks.

Franken amps up campaign tone with latest staff changes

John Edwards' former national spokesman has been added to the ranks. The campaign says it plans to engage Sen. Norm Coleman on the issues daily.
Backed by DFL and Democratic officials, Senate candidate Al Franken kicked off his campaign Monday on the steps of the State Capitol. Franken, who was

Franken gets blunt about Sen. Coleman

The harsh assessment came during the newly endorsed DFLer's kickoff rally Monday at the State Capitol. Officials with the Republican's campaign were just as brusque in response.

Big play for the female vote

Some women say they wouldn't be willing to overlook policy differences just to break the glass ceiling.
Dean Barkley of the Independence Party, shown with supporters at a party Tuesday night at VFW Post 425 in Hopkins, defeated six challengers for his pa

U.S. Senate: Coleman, Franken, Barkley cruise

After trouncing their primary opponents, Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, DFLer Al Franken and Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley are squaring off for a three-way free-for-all.
John McCain and Sarah Palin at the end of McCain's speech Thursday night.

'Change is coming:' McCain promises no more business as usual

John McCain served notice that he seeks the presidency to afflict the politically comfortable, a mission that has defined much of his political career.
Signs reading "McCain - Palin" hang off a riser as workers prepare the newly arranged stage in the morning of day four of the Republican National Conv

Today, it's McCain's town and his party

John McCain will make his case to the nation that a 72-year-old politician with 26 years in Congress can bring the fresh breath of reform that polls suggest the public wants.
President Bush addressed the Republican National Convention via remote video and was introduced by his wife, Laura.

McCain draws praise in offstage curtain call

The convention got up to full speed as President Bush lauded John McCain in brief remarks from D.C., even as the GOP has reasons to keep distance between the two.
Some finishing touches were put on a sign Monday for vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin before the start of the opening session of the conve

A momentous occasion for all GOP women

Sarah Palin has taken the Republican world by storm since John McCain elevated her from near-obscurity. But she remains an unknown quantity to much of the American public, a USA Today/Gallup poll found.

GOP's time to shine

As the Republicans take their turn presenting a four-day, highly choreographed political spectacle, the Twin Cities will put its best foot forward to make sure the delegates have a good time.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty

Dec. 12, 2007: Is Pawlenty better at providing big ideas than results?

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, everyone agrees, is a man of many ideas. Some say there are too many ideas and not enough to show for them.

Poll: Franken, Coleman tied, with Barkley seen as spoiler

Franken's numbers are up, but Independence Party's Barkley appeals to voters who don't like either major-party candidate.