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Torey Van Oot

Politics and Government | Reporter
Phone: 612-673-7299
Location: St. Paul

Torey Van Oot reports on Minnesota politics and government for the Star Tribune.


Van Oot covered state and national politics for more than a decade, contributing to outlets ranging from The Sacramento Bee to InStyle to The Washington Post. When she's not writing and tweeting about politics, Van Oot enjoys running, getting outdoors and checking out Minnesota's many craft breweries. She's told she has terrible taste in TV. Van Oot, who grew up in Vermont, lives in Minneapolis with her husband and a sweet but poorly behaved golden retriever.
Recent content from Torey Van Oot
Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 5,

Minnesota lawmakers retool service amid pandemic

Here are some of the options for communicating with officials.
Representatives including Heather Edelson, DFL-Edina, top, and Sandra Masin, DFL-Eagan, worked to keep the recommended distancing as the Minnesota Hou

Minnesota House, Senate pass $330 million in COVID-19 aid

Details of the new aid package did not come to light until shortly before the House and Senate votes, following days of private talks.
The House Chamber remained empty Wednesday, with every other desk marked with an "A" those may be occupied to maintain social distancing when they ret

Minnesota lawmakers turn to tech to stay in touch with constituents

Social media is playing an even bigger role during the coronavirus pandemic.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., stands with her husband, John Bessler, and daughter Abigail Klobuchar Bessler, left, af

Sen. Amy Klobuchar's husband hospitalized with COVID-19

The senator said she and her husband have not been in the same place for the past two weeks.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake.

Minn. Senate Republicans question Walz's executive orders

Republicans who control the Minnesota Senate pushed back against some of Gov. Tim Walz's executive orders aimed at the coronavirus outbreak, among them changing unemployment rules.
Minnesota is one of only 13 states that now tax at least some Social Security benefits paid to seniors.

Can Minnesota afford to end its tax on Social Security?

GOP wants to end it, but even AARP says cuts could gut state's resources for seniors.
The Minnesota State Capitol.

Minnesota Capitol remains open as Gov. Walz says 'access to democracy is critical'

The decision came following days of behind-the-scenes discussions.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed SF 3813, a bipartisan bill allocating nearly $21 million toward the state COVID-19 response.

Coronavirus quarantines raise worries for Minn. hourly workers

An estimated 900,000 Minnesota workers, about 36% of the workforce, lack paid sick time.
DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said his wife was among those who felt “disenfranchised” as the Democratic field shifted.

No 'clawback' change likely for early Minnesota voters

Minnesotans who cast an early primary ballot found that it was too late to change their vote, even if their original pick was no longer in the running.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren walked on stage at Macalester College last year when her presidential campaign came to St. Paul.

'It's just so bleak': Minnesota women reel after female candidates leave 2020 race

Some hope that a woman will be vice president.
Amy Klobuchar's speech Monday at a Salt Lake City rally was the last of her 2020 presidential campaign.

Inside Amy Klobuchar's decision to end her 2020 White House bid

Even within the Minnesota Democrat's circle of closest confidants, views on the best path forward differed.
Protesters shouting "Free Myon" and "Black Lives Matter" took over the stage before Sen. Amy Klobuchar was to speak on Sunday, March 1, at a rally at

Protesters force Klobuchar to cancel her rally in St. Louis Park

An hourlong protest forced Sen. Amy Klobuchar's campaign to cancel the rally at St. Louis Park High on Sunday night.
Bernie Sanders supporters Naomi Hornstein and Miriam Kelberg texted voters from St. Paul’s TakeAction Minnesota office.

Sanders ramps up in Minnesota ahead of Super Tuesday voting

Among the candidates courting Minnesota's primary voters, Sanders appears to be making one of the biggest and most aggressive plays to win the state, which he carried with 60% support in the 2016 caucuses.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, Tuesday,

Sanders overtakes Klobuchar in small-dollar Minnesota donations ahead of Super Tuesday

Sanders out-raised Klobuchar among Minnesotans contributing to ActBlue in January.
The Minneapolis Early Voting Center, shown in January.

Young Minnesota voters feel urgency and plan to vote, poll finds

The Star Tribune/MPR Minnesota Poll found high interest in voting across gender, geographic and partisan lines.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) speaks during a town hall meeting at the Colin Powell Center in Minneapolis.

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar's memoir set to hit shelves in May

The publisher describes the 288-page manuscript as an "intimate and rousing memoir by progressive trailblazer."
President Donald Trump arrived for a campaign rally at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo., Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (Doug Mills/The

Minnesota Poll: Voters split on Trump heading into election

A slim majority of Minnesota voters hold a negative view of President Donald Trump with eight months to go until the general election, according to a new Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota Poll.
Amy Klobuchar thanked David Wellstone, son of the late Sen Paul Wellstone, for introducing her at the event and for his support. Behind them is Minnea

Klobuchar tells supporters in Nevada, Minnesota that focus is on Super Tuesday

Back in Minneapolis, the Minnesota senator says her national reputation is still building.
Pete Buttigieg tread on shaky ground when he invoked Walter Mondale’s name while debating Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Will Mondale quip hurt Buttigieg?

Local backers of the former South Bend mayor say the whole thing was overblown.
A Minnesota Republican caucus in Burnsville in 2016.

Minnesota parties still caucus this week

There is a presidential primary now, but the gatherings still play a big role in party business and organizing.
Minnesota Senate Tax Committee Chairman Roger Chamberlain speaks at a news conference at the state Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2

Minnesota Senate GOP: Turn surplus into tax cuts

The plan would reduce the lowest tax rate from 5.35% to 4.9%, expand deductions for businesses and parents of school-age children, and fully eliminate taxes on Social Security income.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar sought to recover from recent stumbles on the trail and sparred with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

'Not her night': What people are saying about Amy Klobuchar's debate

Amy Klobuchar entered the Nevada debate looking to build on momentum from her third-place finish in New Hampshire. But the Minnesota Democrat spent much of Wednesday night fending off intense scrutiny and attacks from rivals.Here's a look at what people are saying.
Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar was at the Clark County Democratic Party "Kick-Off to Caucus 2020" event on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Klobuchar races to reach out nationally before Super Tuesday

Top-tier status requires more cash and brings more scrutiny ahead of Super Tuesday vote.
Dawn Tyree shared her emotional testimony how she was forced in marriage at the age of 13 to a man who was 32 during a news conference at the State Ca

Push to ban underage marriage gains momentum in Minnesota

After falling short in the Republican-controlled state Senate last year, the End Child Marriage Bill has picked up support from a key committee GOP chairman.
Former Sen. Al Franken.

Al Franken still spending down leadership PAC cash

Franken, who resigned in 2017 amid allegations of sexual misconduct, spent more than $100,000 out of his Midwest Values PAC between July and December of last year.
Sen. Paul Anderson, shown in 2017.

Minn. GOP state senator bows out of swing district race

The district could be critical in the fight for control of the state Senate.
The Minneapolis Early Voting Center opened Jan. 17.

Your candidate dropped out? In Minnesota, it's not too late to change your vote

The field for the Democratic presidential primary is starting to winnow. Three candidates — Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval…
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, shown on primary night in Concorn, N.H., faces new challenges in Nevada and South Carolina, while building up a national campaign

After N.H. surge, Klobuchar is pivoting to compete in Nevada

Facing larger and more diverse presidential contests, the Minnesota Democrat heads first to New York to raise cash.
Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari and Justice Alan Page are calling on Minnesotans to pass a constitutional amendment aimed at closi

Minnesota business leaders launch push for amendment on education

Coalition wants guarantee of a quality education.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., arrived on Capitol Hill before the impeachment votes Wednesday.

Trump acquittal widens political rifts across Minnesota

As a divided Senate voted to acquit the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the case was thrown back to a deeply polarized public.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., hugs a woman after speaking at a campaign event, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in Portsmouth,

Amy Klobuchar now looks ahead after likely fifth-place Iowa finish

The delayed results showed Klobuchar within striking distance of Joe Biden, a national poll leader who showed worrying signs of weakness.
In advance of tonight’s caucuses, John and Abigail Bessler, Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s husband and daughter, center and second from right, visited the A

What's at stake for Klobuchar in tonight's Iowa caucuses

For Sen. Amy Klobuchar's all-in campaign in Iowa, the pressure is on. Traditionally, there have been just a handful of "tickets out of Iowa." Here's what to watch for tonight.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar's first appearance in Iowa after announcing her run for president was in Mason City. On Sunday, it was also her final destination b

Klobuchar makes final sprint through Iowa before caucuses

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar crisscrossed Iowa in a nine-seat chartered plane, looking to make up for lost time after two weeks largely spent in Washington for the Senate impeachment trial.
Amy Klobuchar spoke at a Get Out the Caucus event at Crawford Brew Works in Bettendorf, Iowa, the first of four events around the state.

Klobuchar faces more questions about 2003 teen murder conviction

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar faced new questions Sunday about the 2003 murder conviction of a black teenager in Minneapolis, an emerging issue that forced her…
Amy Klobuchar returned to Iowa after being stuck in Washington D.C. for the impeachment trial. She spoke at a Get Out the Vote event at Crawford Brew

Klobuchar: 'I'm going to New Hampshire no matter what'

Welcome to a special edition of Hot Dish, the Star Tribune's weekday newsletter on all things Minnesota politics. We're publishing special editions through the weekend…
Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke at a Get Out the Vote event at Crawford Brew Works in Bettendorf, Iowa, the first of four events around the state.

Amy Klobuchar kicks off final Iowa campaign push

Welcome to a special edition of Hot Dish, the Star Tribune's weekday newsletter on all things Minnesota politics. We're publishing special editions through the weekend…
Rep. Ilhan Omar spoke to a packed crowd of canvassers at Bernie 2020 Des Moines, Iowa, Field Office.

Walz, Omar among Minnesotans hitting campaign trail ahead of Iowa caucuses

Carloads of Minnesotans head south to stump for the Democrats.
Joe Biden held a community event Thursday at Vince Meyer Learning Center, Gymnasium in Waukee, Iowa.

Friday Morning Hot Dish: All eyes on Iowa

Happy Friday from a gray and gloomy Des Moines. The windows in my downtown hotel room offer a broad sweeping view to the north, and…
DFL. Sen. Susan Kent of Woodbury is challenging Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk.

Leadership challenge shakes up DFL senators

Suburban legislator aims to replace an Iron Range veteran.
Presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke on stage Friday night at First Avenue for a Get Out The Vote rally. Presidential candidate Sen. Klobuc

Minnesotans celebrate start of voting in state's first presidential primary since 1992

The state is holding its first primary since 1992. Minnesotans cast some of the first ballots of the presidential election Friday morning, as early absentee voting began ahead of the state's March 3 primary.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., prepares to be interviewed in the spin room Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, after a Democratic

Here's what people are saying about Klobuchar's Iowa debate performance

Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar faced off against fellow Democratic presidential candidates Tuesday night in the final nationally televised debate ahead of the Iowa Caucuses. …
Patricia Mueller

Minnesota GOP works to recruit more women to run for office

At least nine GOP women are running for DFL-held state House seats so far this year.
Former Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, has registered as a lobbyist, just a month after leaving office.

Ex-lawmaker's lobbying job sparks fresh calls for 'revolving door' laws

A former Republican state legislator has registered as a lobbyist just one month after leaving office, sparking fresh calls to update Minnesota’s conflict-of-interest laws. Former…
Republican Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, of Nisswa, at the podium, lays out the Senate GOP agenda for the 2020 legislative session du

Minnesota Senate Republicans roll out 2020 agenda

Gazelka calls for tax cuts, and an end to income tax on social security income.
Gov. Tim Walz intends to roll out his sweeping public works package in four phases over the next week.

Gov. Walz proposes Minn. borrow $276M for affordable housing

Gov. Tim Walz unveiled the first part of his 2020 state bonding proposal, recommending to the Legislature that Minnesota borrow $276 million to pay for affordable housing projects across the state. Some of the money could be used to add sprinklers to public housing buildings.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the Johnson Family Farm in Wells, Minn., on Wednesday to tour the farm and talk about trade tariffs. O

In Minnesota, Michael Bloomberg tries to show ex-N.Y. mayor would fight for rural interests

The candidate's extensive spending here could benefit other Democrats, some said.
Democratic presidential candidate, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, chats with Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney at a coffee shop in Richmond,

Michael Bloomberg to make first campaign stop in Minnesota on Wednesday

The presidential candidate is spending heavily on the airwaves ahead of the state's Super Tuesday primary.
The walkways in the Minnesota Capitol were bustling with lawmakers, lobbyists, and other interested parties a day before the legislative session wrapp

Watchdog questions Minn. lobbying loophole for former legislators

Watchdog agency is concerned that former legislators are taking advantage of a disclosure loophole.
Minnesota state Rep. Diane Loeffler, DFL-Minneapolis, died of cancer Nov. 16.

First day of class also will be an election day for some University of Minnesota students

Gov. Tim Walz has said the date was selected "to accommodate the large student population in the district."
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., pictured at a rally at the University of Minnesota, faced questions from the FEC over $800,000 in unitemzed campaign contrib

Rep. Ilhan Omar's small-dollar fundraising haul sparks inquiry from FEC

The congresswoman reported raising more than $800,000 from small-dollar contributors from July to September.
President Trump addressed his supporters at a rally in October at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Battleground Minnesota: What to expect from state politics in 2020

Thought 2019 was a wild year in political news? Buckle up: 2020 is expected to be even bigger — and busier. The races for the…
Long

DFL legislator's post at the U did not violate ethics laws, review finds

Independent investigation's findings into the DFL lawmaker's hiring are released.
The entrance to the Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, Calif.

Edina man killed by falling redwood on California trail had love for the outdoors

Subhradeep Dutta, 28, died on a Christmas Eve hike.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., got generally high marks for her performance in the Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday.

What people are saying about Klobuchar's debate performance

The stakes for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, trailing the top tier in fifth place in the polls with just six weeks to go until the Iowa Caucuses, are higher than ever.
Cory Peine of Cannon Falls and Jay Anderson of Hastings occasionally glanced up at the impeachment hearings on television in the background at Little

National divide over impeachment on display at a Dakota County diner

Little Oscar's Restaurant in Hampton mirrored the nation's deep divide. Ultimately, the final verdict is likely to be rendered in next year's election by these suburban swing districts.
Democratic presidential candidates gather onstage for a state party forum in Las Vegas on Nov. 17, 2019. From left: former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Pa

15 Democrats qualify for Minnesota's presidential primary ballot

In order to make the DFL ballot, candidates had to agree to the national committee's delegate selection rules and submit a letter by mid-December.
A 2003 photo from the dedication of a memorial to three men lynched in Duluth in 1920 after accusations of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman. Th

Minn. board clears way for pardon in case that sparked 1920 lynching

The move could mark the first posthumous pardon in state history, related to a case that sparked the deaths of three men in Duluth.
From left, Javier Morillo, Brian McDaniel, Carin Mrotz and Amy Koch recorded the long-running “Wrong About Everything” podcast Friday.

'Friends of the pod:' Minnesota politicians talk directly to voters

As podcasts boom, politicians make their case straight to constituents.
Dabku waxa uu ka dilaacay dabaqa 14aad ee daaraha dhaadheer ee Cedar, halkaas oo shaq qof naftoofa ku waayeen.

Gudoomiyihii hore ee Minnesota Gud. Arne Carlson: "Waxa ay ila tahay in aan ku fashilanay" in rusheeyayaasha waajib laga dhigo dhismayaasha dhaadheer ee gaboobay.

Carlson laba jeer ayuu codka diidmada ku hor istaagay rusheeyayaasha ka dib markii Waaxda Maamulka Guryaha Dadweynaha ee Minneapolis iyo kooxo kale cabasho ka muujiyeen in qorshahaas aanu wehlin dhaqaale lagu hirgeliyo.
The burned-out 14th floor of the high-rise at Cedar High apartments, where five people died from smoke inhalation.

Ex-Gov. Carlson: 'I think we failed' on requiring sprinklers for old high-rises

Carlson twice vetoed broader sprinkler mandates after the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and other groups complained that retrofit proposals didn't come with any money.
Young Minnesota activists made their way through the skyway on their way to the Xcel offices to demand that they stop buying energy from the HERC inci

Minnesota youth activists rally across metro for action on climate

At the State Capitol and elsewhere around the Twin Cities, they pushed for changes they believe will mitigate the effects.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, in this February 2018 Star Tribune file photo, is shown leaving the Senate floor.

DFL leader Tom Bakk faces leadership challenge from fellow Senate Democrat

Sen. Susan Kent of Woodbury told Democratic colleagues she plans to run for minority leader against Bakk, a fixture at the Capitol.

Minneapolis attorney launches primary bid against Rep. Ilhan Omar

Antone Melton-Meaux wants to challenge the freshman congresswoman in the DFL primary next year
From left, Reps. Betty McCollum, Dean Phillips and Angie Craig appeared at a Veterans Day event, in Inver Grove Heights.

Impeachment battle plays out in pivotal Twin Cities suburbs

Democrats are plotting a 2020 strategy that relies heavily on suburban voters moving away from the Republican Party of Trump.
Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman is one of the seven lawmakers on the trip.

Minnesota lawmakers travel to Israel, West Bank

Seven lawmakers, including House Speaker Melissa Hortman, are participating in the trip, which is coordinated by the Jewish Community Relations Council.
In this Sept. 20, 2018 photo, voting booths stand ready in downtown Minneapolis for the opening of early voting in Minnesota. (AP Photo/Steve Karnowsk

Democrats sue Minnesota over ballot rules that put pro-marijuana parties first

Current state rules mean candidates from pro-marijuana parties would appear first.
Gov. Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz sets special election date for two state House seats

Voters will select a legislator to succeed late Rep. Diane Loeffler, who died at age 66.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar D-Minn., speaks during the 37th annual HRC New England dinner on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 in Boston.

Amy Klobuchar mum on the $17,000 question: Who were the exes?

While the quip may be new to national audiences, the Minnesota Democrat has been using the line for years.
The house that became the Minnesota governor's residence, in the early 1910s.

Renovation of Minnesota governor's residence under review

The 16,000-square-foot Tudor house on Summit Avenue in St. Paul is in serious need of repair, state officials say.
Minnesota Rep. Kurt Daudt has been hired by Stateside Associates, a Virginia-based government relations firm, as its director of public affairs,

Minnesota House GOP leader joins D.C. area lobbying firm

Kurt Daudt will continue to serve in the Legislature and as GOP caucus leader, coming under fire from Democrats for a "massive conflict of interest."
Gov. Tim Walz gestured a sign of respect to Ojibwe elders and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan after he signed a bill to launch the first official meeting of t

'Not one more': Minnesota launches task force on missing and murdered indigenous women

Panel is set to issue recommendations by December 2020.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., center speaks as Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, left a

From 'best' night to ex-boyfriends: What they're saying about Klobuchar's 5th debate

Sen. Amy Klobuchar looked to build on her strong October performance in Wednesday's Democratic debate, sticking to her message of midwestern pragmatism as she…
The naming of Neill Hall, the Arts and Humanities Building at Macalester, is now under fire, because it’s named after a man that had some writings p

Macalester president calls for stripping founder's name from building over 'extreme' racist views

Student activists and journalists raised concerns about racist and sexist views Edward Duffield Neill promoted in the 1800s.
Mike Molzahn, left, and Rep. Jean Wagenius, the chair of the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Finance Committee, in 2014.

Longtime state Rep. Jean Wagenius to retire after three decades

DFL Rep. Hunter Cantrell also announced that he won't seek another term in the state House.
An estimated 96% of Americans own a cellphone of some kind. “If you’re not reaching people on their mobile, then you’re missing out,” said Tim

A year out, political texts are lighting up Minnesotans' cellphones

Campaign strategists say the approach is efficient, inexpensive and necessary.