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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published September 05 2010

Minnesota governor’s race tied, but that’s not all

ST. PAUL – The headlines read that the Minnesota governor’s race is deadlocked between Republican Tom Emmer and Democrat Mark Dayton, but there is more to the story.

As usual a couple of months before an election, there are plenty of undecided voters. In this case, it was nearly

20 percent of those responding to the Minnesota Public Radio-University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute poll.

It’s not just independents who have not made up their minds, which is common. Political scientist Larry Jacobs points out that about a third of those polled who say they are Democrat or Republican do not support their parties’ candidates.

That could be expected among Democratic-Farmer-Laborites, who on Aug. 10 wrapped up a heated three-way primary election contest. Not everyone has had time to get on board with Dayton, and not everyone can be expected to.

On the Republican side, it is much more unusual for the party’s nominee not to pick up more support, but Emmer is not well known, and his views appear to the right even of some in his own party.

While that could give Independence Party candidate Tom Horner a chance, the 13 percent he gained in the poll is well behind the other two, each of whom received 34 percent backing.

“The race is wide open, and voters may be listening to learn more about Horner,” a Humphrey Institute analysis said.

Among voters who consider themselves independent, but not necessarily members of the Independence Party, Horner still only gets 26 percent support, with 38 percent saying they do not know who to support or refused to say. Dayton does far better than Emmer among independents, 23 percent to 13 percent.

The other interesting fact the poll shows is that Minnesotans earning at least $50,000 a year give Emmer a big advantage, while Dayton (who focuses on taxing the rich) gets a big lead among those earning less than $50,000.

Vets’ college aid

Current and former military personnel now can see if their military training credits can become college credits for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

The higher education system just launched Veterans Education Transfer System, a service thought to be the first of its kind in the country.

“Hundreds of military jobs can lead to civilian careers with some additional education,” Chancellor James H. McCormick said. “In the past, veterans have often found it difficult to know whether the training they receive in the military can count for college credit. We want to help veterans build on the excellent training they receive in the military by awarding appropriate credits and allowing them to complete a college program more quickly.”

Information about military training credit transfers is available at www.veterans.mnscu.edu.

‘Open bird market’

U.S. Sens. Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar and 28 other senators are asking Russia to allow American poultry imports.

The two Minnesota Democrats signed a letter to the Russian ambassador after his country continued to block imports following what appeared to be an agreement to allow poultry sales.

“Poultry is a billion-dollar industry in Minnesota, and Russia is one of the largest importers of our goods,” Franken said. “Russia’s lack of follow-through to reopen their market to our products is hurting Minnesota’s farmers and agriculture industry, and that’s just something I can’t stand for. I will continue to do whatever I can to make sure the ban is lifted as soon as possible.”

Disaster apps due

Western Minnesotans seeking federal disaster loans to recover from June’s storms have until Tuesday to apply.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has loans available to homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit groups in Becker, Cass, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Otter Tail, Todd, Wadena and Wilkin counties.

Information is available at (800) 659-2955 or via e-mail at disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Overseas? Vote soon

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says military personnel and other overseas voters need to apply now for absentee ballots.

“County election officials are accepting applications now,” Ritchie said. “If you are in the military or planning on being overseas on Election Day, submit an absentee ballot application to your county auditor and request that your ballot be either e-mailed or faxed to you. Applying now will ensure that you receive your ballot immediately when they become available and give you more time to mail it back to Minnesota to be counted on Nov. 2.”

Vacant jobs up

More Minnesota jobs were open in this year’s second quarter than the same period a year ago.

At the same time, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reports, there are 4.8 unemployed people for each job opening.

“While we are still in the early stages of economic recovery, the survey indicates that the job market is beginning to improve statewide,” Commissioner Dan McElroy said. “This is the first decrease in the number of unemployed people per vacancy in Minnesota since the second quarter of 2006.”


Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.