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Political notebook: Sand still undecided about run

Just weeks after announcing he had considered and rejected a run for the U.S. House seat held by Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., Duane Sand has given it a second thought.

Just weeks after announcing he had considered and rejected a run for the U.S. House seat held by Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., Duane Sand has given it a second thought.

Sand has been exploring a race against Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., since last year, and also ran for the Senate in 2000. But campaign announcements he has planned for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday around North Dakota are billed only as "regarding his future political plans," with no mention of specific office.

In December, Sand said he would only move to a House race if former Gov. Ed Schafer would agree to run against Dorgan. Schafer has repeatedly said he is not interested in running for the Senate.

Sand campaign manager Matt Lewis said Friday that Sand is considering the House race but would spend the weekend discussing with his family which race to enter.

Neither state GOP director Jason Stverak nor a Washington, D.C., spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee would say whether the NRCC would back Sand or seek out a different North Dakotan to support in a possible House race.

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Private reasons

Some have criticized Gov. Tim Pawlenty for suggesting the state subsidize Internet costs for Minnesota private schools, as well as public ones.

Pawlenty recently proposed giving $4.5 million to rural schools with high Internet costs. Hidden away in the proposal was the fact that private schools also were eligible.

The governor gave only a brief answer when asked about why he wanted to funnel money to private schools, saying it has been done in similar programs. Democrats, especially, see giving such aid to private schools as the first step to giving them even more state support, taking funds away from public schools.

Sand has money

Sand may not be saying yet what he's running for, but he's built up a campaign fund of $168,000 to do it, he said last week.

His 2003 campaign finance report is on its way to the Federal Election Commission, he said.

Young DFL to meet

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The Minnesota Young DFL meets Jan. 31 to kick off this election year.

"Rock Your Party: Finding Our Voice in the DFL" will be at Hamline University in St. Paul. Participants will voice their opinions about the party's agenda, hear about Democratic presidential candidates and vote in a presidential straw poll.

Hubert H. Humphrey and Walter Mondale formed the Young DFL in 1947 before becoming successful in politics. Both served as U.S. vice president.

Gulleson takes over

State Rep. Pam Gulleson, D-Rutland, an outreach worker on Dorgan's staff for a couple of years, will take Fargoan Kevin Carvell's spot on Dorgan's staff.

Carvell, Dorgan's district director since 1981, is retiring.

Gulleson said her title will be deputy state director.

Money available

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Sporting, outdoors and scientific groups have until Feb. 20 to apply for environmental project funding from the Minnesota Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources.

The commission grants money to projects designed to improve water quality; protect fish, wildlife and native plant habitat; promote energy efficiency; and projects in state parks or related areas.

Information is available at www.lcmr.leg.mn or (651) 296-2406.

Money for consumers

The North Dakota Insurance Department helped state residents recover $1.9 million in refunds and benefits in 2003, Commissioner Jim Poolman said. The money is recovered through the department complaint hotline, complaints against agencies and companies and investigations.

The department made about 7,000 calls on behalf of consumers about various insurance issues, Poolman said, and handled 366 formal complaints. He said the most common complaints about agents involve allegations that costs and benefits of life insurance products were misrepresented.

Fire deaths down

Minnesota's 2003 fire fatalities were the lowest since the state started keeping records in 1970.

Home fires killed 27 last year, with eight dying in burning vehicles and six in other types of fires.

"Every death is a tragedy, but these numbers are part of a promising trend," State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl said. "Overall, fire-related deaths in Minnesota have been declining for years."

The most deaths came in 1976, with a toll of 134. Rosendahl said fire deaths have fallen because of better fire codes, aggressive inspections and widespread use of smoke detectors and sprinkler systems.

Committee registered

Rep. Merle Boucher, D-Rolette, has registered his North Dakota gubernatorial campaign. His and other campaign committees can be found on the North Dakota secretary of state's newly revamped Web site, www.state.nd.us/sec .

Call to conventions

The North Dakota Republican Party is taking applications from people who want to be delegates to the state convention April 2-4 in Bismarck or to the Republican National Convention in New York City Aug. 28-Sept. 3.

Forms for the national convention must be at party headquarters by March 12.

Call the party at (701) 255-0030 or send e-mail to info@ndgop.org . Forms are also available for download at www.ndgop.org/gop_interactive/document_library.asp .

Readers can reach The Forum's Capitol reporters Janell Cole at (701) 224-0830 or Don Davis at (651) 290-0707.

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