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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published May 31 2010

Political notebook: Dayton's running mate wants ethanol answers

ST. PAUL – The latest two major lieutenant governor candidates know E85, but one wants to know more about the topic.

Yvonne Prettner Solon understands about E85, a stumbling block for some other lieutenant governor candidates, but when she was introduced as Mark Dayton’s running mate she stopped short of giving the plant-based ethanol fuel her full support.

The DFL state senator said questions remain about things such as how much water is needed to produce ethanol.

“We need to clarify that,” the Democratic candidate said.

Some environmentalists say the fuel, now mostly made from corn, loses its environmental advantage because so much water is needed to produce corn and ethanol. Prettner Solon wrote several environmental bills during her time in the state Senate.

E85 is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Minnesota leads the country in its use and state laws encourage ethanol production.

Matt Entenza’s running mate, Robyne Robinson, deflected questions on the subject “to another day.”

Emmer plans meetings

Republican governor candidate Tom Emmer announced his campaign will hold a series of “freedom and prosperity project” meetings around the state, an effort to get public input before he announces specific plans for what he would do if elected.

Emmer promised to “listen, then listen again and only then to talk.” His campaign manager, fellow state Rep. Mark Buesgens, and his running mate, Annette Meeks, head the project. Emmer said he will attend some of the meetings.

Meeks said 10 to 20 of the “listening sessions” are planned each week this summer and fall.

While Emmer said his campaign will listen to anyone at the meetings and business and community leaders will be specifically invited. He gave no indication that he would stray from his smaller government and low taxes theme, regardless of what those at the meetings say.

“Leadership is leading people to where they need to be,” Emmer said.

A specific meeting list has not been released.

Locker room humor?

Republicans must not like the smell of reporters.

When Emmer spoke at a news conference last week, in an overcrowded and overheated room, the ex-college hockey player said: “They told me the days of locker rooms were behind us. This feels and smells like one.”

Slightly more than a week earlier, fellow Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty emerged from his office to update reporters camped out in the Capitol hallway on budget talks. He also said that it smelled like a locker room.

In reporters’ defense, Capitol complex buildings have been quite warm and in Emmer’s case, he packed the room with far more Republicans than reporters.

Bachmann sees merger

One of the new conservative movement’s stars says that people who have not been involved in politics are becoming activists.

These are people “who just want to live their lives,” U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said just after filing paperwork to run for a third term.

Bachmann said the disenchanted people come from many political persuasions. Many are part of the conservative-libertarian Tea Party movement.

Tea Party followers look like they are merging with the Republican Party, she added, becoming the pulse of the GOP.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.