A fainting episode and cancer diagnosis jump-started a wild week in Minnesota politics.
After muscling through a lengthy budget presentation on Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton assured the state he was feeling fine after collapsing near the end of his State of the State speech. A few minutes into explaining what happened, he almost casually added: “I will though, in the interest of full disclosure, say that I learned last week — I had a biopsy — that I do have prostate cancer.”
Way to bury the lede, governor.
The news surprised the Capitol press corps, legislators, and statehouse regulars expecting to learn more about Dayton’s fainting spell the night before during his State of the State speech.
Dayton’s close-knit team of senior advisers were all present at the sudden announcement, which the governor had initially hoped to put off until next week, until the fainting forced his hand. He had alerted his staff and commissioners that the announcement was forthcoming.
It’s a definite downside to the life of a high-profile elected official: public admissions of what are typically private matters before a row of cameras and lights. The good news is that prostate cancer is relatively treatable and has high survivability rates.
Capitol business continues
Dayton’s budget, released Tuesday, was overshadowed by the health news. But the $46 billion spending blueprint is a starting point for the budget deliberations that will largely define the rest of session, with lawmakers now able to fully dig in after passing the insurance premium relief package at the end of last week.
Republicans were muted in response to Dayton’s budget priorities, seemingly not keen to harshly criticize the governor at this moment. But there’s little doubt Republicans will go their own way, at least in the early process of setting their own spending and tax-cutting goals through the legislative committee process.
Meanwhile in Washington
An eventful, turbulent first full week for the new Trump administration, was marked by major actions and announcements on immigration, energy and environmental policy, Mexico and Trump’s proposed border wall, and plenty more. Some attempts to fulfill campaign promises emerged via executive order, others more loosely through the president’s tweets and public comments followed by his press secretary’s attempts to clarify.
Expect this pace, and a corresponding level of confusion, to continue for a while.