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Polls set up political battles

Recent Minnesota polls provide ammunition for both political parties, and may make negotiations tougher as lawmakers try to adjourn by their constitutional deadline a week from today.

Recent Minnesota polls provide ammunition for both political parties, and may make negotiations tougher as lawmakers try to adjourn by their constitutional deadline a week from today.

Minnesota Public Radio last week released its poll showing 72 percent of voters support a higher income tax on rich taxpayers. At the same time,

55 percent of voters claim the tax increase's main opponent, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, is doing a good job and only 17 percent give him poor ratings.

A KSTP television poll showed similar results a couple of weeks ago.

That sets up a battle between Democrats - who will feel like the public is behind them as they continue fighting for raising taxes on the richest Minnesotans to provide property tax relief for most homeowners - and Republican Pawlenty, who opposes any form of a state tax increase.

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Wonkette readers bash N.D., Dorgan

For unexplained reasons, Washington, D.C., gossip blog Wonkette went after Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., on Thursday over his complaints about the feds' interest in protecting prairie dogs at the expense of (he says) our declining population. It's been an issue of his for several years now.

"North Dakota Senator Unhealthily Obsessed with Prairie Dogs," Wonkette writes.

It quotes his comments in the Congressional Record since 2002 about the cute rodents who are regarded as pests and invaders of a national park picnic area in western North Dakota. Then Wonkette's readers - most of whom surely have never been here - pile on. There's the clever: "After successfully holding the picnic grounds for 71 days, the prairie dogs went on to occupy Alcatraz."

Plus personal attacks on Dorgan and the usual North Dakota-bashing: "uninhabitable ... Godforsaken Wilderness." And "Caddyshack" jokes.

One, upset that Dorgan's votes are on par with more populated states' senators, blaming a "stupid farmer constitutional convention." Others referred mistakenly to South Dakota.

See the whole thing at http://wonkette.com/politics/dept '-of-captain-ahab/north-dakota-senator-unhealthily-obsessed-with-prairie-dogs-259464.php. When Forum Communications asked Dorgan to respond, he issued a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that he'll give Wonkette one male and one female prairie dog and ask for "a report back to me in a year about the size of their extended family."

Coleman gift

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An oil industry company in the center of an Alaska political corruption controversy donated $6,000 to Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.

The Center for Responsive Politics reports that the money came from VECO, its employees and families, who have contributed about

$1 million to current and former members of Congress. President Bush also received donations from VECO, Alaska's No. 1 political contributor.

No time like the present

The North Dakota Legislature wasn't even over yet when Democrats held a fundraiser in Bismarck for Rep. Dorvan Solberg, D-Ray, seeking to jump-start a 2008 challenge to Sen. John Andrist, R-Crosby, the April 27 Crosby Journal reports. (Andrist is the retired publisher and his son Steve is current publisher).

The session ended April 25.

Solberg was nonchalant, telling the Journal, "I suppose I'll run for the Legislature again." He said the event was not so much about him, but to symbolize all Democrats, "to tell the state we're starting early."

Democrats want to add to the six seats in the House and six in the Senate that they captured from the GOP last November

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Andrist said the event did make "members of our own caucus somewhat concerned." He went through a tough session. He missed Senate roll call 17 of the 78 days, his wife went through cancer treatments.

More flex

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee adopted a provision to require most new vehicles to use either regular gasoline or the ethanol E-85 blend.

That would be a boon for the Upper Midwest's booming ethanol industry.

"This amendment is an investment in American homegrown renewable energy," said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. "Outfitting American cars and trucks with the ability to run on alternative fuels is a step toward outgrowing our dependency on foreign oil. Minnesota leads the way with E-85 stations and I will continue to pursue initiatives that shift our nation closer to the future in renewable technology."

Klobuchar convinced the Senate Commerce Committee to tack the provision onto a bill requiring vehicles to get at least 35 miles per gallon gasoline mileage by 2020.

What party lines?

They said they're bipartisan, but let's see what their post-legislative session "Friend of the Taxpayer Awards" show.

Americans for Prosperity-North Dakota gave 63 House members and 24 senators the distinction.

With a staff made up of a former two-time Republican candidate (Duane Sand) and a former Republican Party employee (Rudie Martinson), and a high-profile ex-Republican governor (Ed Schafer) as spokesman, cynics might guess it was all 61 Republicans in the House and 24 of 25 Republican senators and a couple of rogue Democrats.

But no. Honorees include 17 House Democrats and six Democratic senators.

See the lucky legislators and the bills that determined the rankings at www.americansforprosperity.org/index.php?statend .

Otremba sought

Minnesota House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, is courting Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba, DFL-Long Prairie.

That's political courting, of course.

Otremba is one of the most conservative House Democrats and Seifert thinks she would fit well into his Republican caucus. So when a female Iowa Democratic representative switched over to the GOP side last week, he printed out a Des Moines Register story and handed it to Otremba.

The Long Prairie lawmaker gave no indication she plans to make the change.

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