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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published May 22 2011

Minnesota Political Notebook: DFL goes after Pawlenty’s presidential campaign

St. Paul - Democratic-Farmer-Laborites aren’t taking it easy on Tim Pawlenty just because he’s from Minnesota.

DFL Chairman Ken Martin reacted to a Time Magazine interview in which Pawlenty didn’t answer why he is running for president.

“We knew Tim Pawlenty didn’t bring much to the table in terms of leadership, accomplishments or vision, and with this admission, he’s proven that he knows it, too,” Martin said. “As uninspiring as it is, ‘I don’t know why I’m running for president’ is probably a better answer for Tim Pawlenty than running on his record of raising taxes on the middle class and leaving the state a historic $6 billion deficit.”

DFL leaders have joined anti-Pawlenty calls in key primary and caucus states as Minnesota’s former governor ramped up his presidential campaign. And since DFLers lost to Pawlenty in two elections, they have plenty of ammunition when folks in other states come calling.

Some of the talk around the Minnesota Capitol was why Pawlenty didn’t pick his home state for his initial announcement, instead of in the first caucus state of Iowa.

LGA defended

Some lawmakers are concerned Local Government Aid paid to cities will drop dramatically after the next state budget is finished.

Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, said a negotiated bill was worse than what the Senate and House passed earlier.

“The Senate bill that went into conference committee was a bill we could live with,” Reinert said. “The Senate bill had $203 million dollars in cuts to LGA, essentially telling our cities that they would be where they’ve been, which the cities had figured out and were making work.”

But the cut rose to $310 million in the compromise bill, which also was more than what the House sought.

Reason to leave

Minnesota legislators don’t want to return to a special session for several reasons, but Rep. Deb Kiel spoke for many.

“I have no intention of staying here,” the Crookston Republican said. “I have not seen my spouse for four weeks.”

Borer week

The emerald ash borer has its own week.

But unlike many special weeks, this is not to honor the pest. Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed May 22-28 as Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week.

The borer, not native to the country, is destroying ash trees in many parts of the state.

“With nearly 1 billion ash trees in Minnesota, EAB could be devastating for our tourism and lumber industries, our natural landscapes and our recreational destinations,” Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said.

Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com