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A mixed reception for Hamm in capital

When Adam Hamm was named North Dakota insurance commissioner last week, he got some differing welcoming words in Bismarck. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, like Hamm a Republican, was effusive. "I've been trying to hire him in my office for over...

When Adam Hamm was named North Dakota insurance commissioner last week, he got some differing welcoming words in Bismarck.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, like Hamm a Republican, was effusive.

"I've been trying to hire him in my office for over six years," he said at the announcement.

But North Dakota Democrats note that Hamm was chairman of the Cass County Republicans when the party helped the White House compile a list of Fargo-area people who were to be denied entrance to a presidential appearance in Fargo in 2003. The incident made national news.

Hutchinson picked


Peter Hutchinson gained lots of praise, if not votes, in his Independence Party bid for Minnesota governor last year.

Now a major foundation has hired him as its president.

The Bush Foundation focuses on "promoting healthy people, thriving cultural life and economic vitality to strengthen communities in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota," the organization's announcement of Hutchinson's selection said.

The 54-year-old Bush Foundation, founded by Archibald and Edyth Bush, has nearly $900 million to support programs in the three states. Since 1978, it has made more than 5,000 grants valued at $780 million.

Hutchinson co-founded the Public Strategies Group, a St. Paul-based government consultant company. He is a former state finance commissioner.

Getting spiffed up

North Dakota Republicans are finally launching a drive to spruce up their plain-Jane Bismarck headquarters. The former eye clinic across the street from the Capitol grounds was purchased by the party in 2001. It has seen little change since then. The executive director's office is a long, narrow, concrete block that was a former exam room.

This summer, after Gary Emineth took over as state chairman, things started to improve with new carpet and paint in the building's lower level. Some old juniper foundation plantings were dug up and replaced with fresh plants.


And the party recently launched a buy-a-brick campaign to boost its building fund. With a donation of $150 or more, donors will get their name or other inscription of their choosing on a brick. The party's Web site helpfully notes that under state law the building fund can accept corporate donations.

The party also recently had its Web site, www.ndgop.org , redesigned.

Oh, deer

Dark horse Minnesota U.S. Senate candidate Jim Cohen met one northwestern Minnesota resident he wishes he could have avoided.

The Democratic candidate's vehicle smashed into a deer while he was cruising for votes near Twin Valley. Cohen was not hurt.

Cohen wants to climb out of the Democratic Senate race - which includes financial powerhouses Mike Ciresi and Al Franken - to run against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman next year.

Hillary happenings

Organizational meetings for supporters of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are being held this week in Grand Forks, N.D., and Bismarck-Mandan.


The Grand Forks event is from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Best Western Townhouse (north conference room).

Bismarck-Mandan supporters will gather from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Kennedy Center, the state Democratic-NPL Party headquarters.

Both meetings will be hosted by Nancy Vogeltanz-Holm of Grand Forks.

Western front

A couple of western Minnesota legislators now sit on the Great Lakes Commission, which helps manage development and conservation of water and other resources in the Great Lakes basin and St. Lawrence River.

Rep. Morrie Lanning of Moorhead and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen of Alexandria are new on the commission. They join a third Republican, longtime state Sen. Cal Larson of Fergus Falls, who is an alternate commissioner after years serving on the board.

Larson long has promoted the Great Lakes as being important to his western Minnesota neighbors. Lanning said after recently returning from his first commission meeting that Superior and its sister lakes are important to all of Minnesota and near record-low water levels threaten the lakes.

Minnesota's delegation chairman, and immediate past chairman of the commission is Rep. Tom Huntley. Also on the commission is Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon, who like Huntley is a Duluth Democrat.


'Corn don't know'

There remain a handful of lawmakers in the Minnesota Legislature whose full-time job back home is farming.

One of those, Rep. Doug Magnus of Slayton, cited his profession recently while answering a question about politics involved in a transportation debate. The Republican said he tries to be nonpartisan when considering public issues.

"I'm a farmer," Magnus told Capitol reporters. "Corn don't know if it's raised by a Democrat or Republican, and that's just the way I am."

Magnus spoke at a news conference with other Republicans to urge a Democrat-controlled legislative panel to approve a state Department of Transportation spending request.

Minnesota Capitol Bureau reporter Scott Wente contributed to this report

A mixed reception for Hamm in capital Janell Cole and Don Davis 20071015

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