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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published August 28 2011

Minnesota Political Notebook: Bakk rejects requests for congressional run

ST. PAUL - Tom Bakk says he prefers working in the Minnesota Senate, and has turned down requests that he challenge rookie U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack in next year’s election.

“In recent months, I have been overwhelmed by the numerous phone calls, letters and emails I have received from citizens encouraging me to run for Congress,” he wrote to editors. “It’s clear that many in the 8th District are frustrated with the partisan gridlock that has gripped Washington since the last election, and are eager for a new direction – and new representation – in Congress.”

However, he wrote, the best way he can serve is to remain in the state Legislature “and continue my work as the leader of the Minnesota Senate DFL caucus.”

Bakk attacked Minnesota Republicans, accusing them of shutting down state government and forcing property tax increases. That likely is a preview of 2012 Democratic-Farmer-Labor campaigns.

There will be less than the normal amount of time for candidates to prepare for next year’s election, both for the state Legislature and for the U.S. House, because new district lines will not be drawn until late this year or early next year.

Planning a run for the U.S. House is especially difficult. Bakk, Cravaack and other potential candidates have no idea what district they will end up in since a court panel likely will decide on new district lines after they need to mount campaigns.

There has been talk, for instance, that one possibility is that all of northern Minnesota, from east to west, could be in one district. That could put Bakk’s home near Cook in the same district of incumbent U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson of Detroit Lakes, but leave out Cravaack, a North Branch Republican who lives far enough south of Duluth that he could be in a different district once the new lines are drawn.

Bachmann struggles

Michele Bachmann rode high after her Aug. 13 straw poll victory, but her national poll numbers went south after that.

She also went south, to campaign in South Carolina and Florida.

Aug. 13 is when she crushed fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty, a former governor, in the Ames, Iowa, straw poll among Republican presidential candidates.

The most recent Gallup Poll put her in fourth place among Republicans nationally. Texas Gov. Rick Perry controlled first with 29 percent, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 17 percent and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas with 13 percent. Bachmann was fourth with 10 percent.

At the same time, Forbes magazine named Bachmann the 22nd most powerful woman in the world, sandwiched between the Food and Drug Administration commissioner and the Australian prime minister.

Forbes’ most powerful woman is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, followed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. First lady Michelle Obama came in at No. 11.

Krinkie considers run

Phil Krinkie is thinking about running for U.S. Senate or for Bachmann’s U.S. House seat.

The former Minnesota House tax chairman and current Taxpayers League of Minnesota president said he is especially concerned that Republicans have no solid candidates to challenge U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat in her first term.

Two Republicans say they are running, or thinking about running, for Senate, but Krinkie said the GOP needs a stronger candidate.

Had former Sen. Norm Coleman or ex-Gov. Tim Pawlenty opted for the Senate seat, Krinkie said, he would not consider running. But there is no one of that caliber in the wings, he said.

“In both races, it is a toe in the water,” Krinkie said of his position.

Krinkie, who ran for the congressional seat that Bachmann won in 2006, said he gives a 50-50 chance of Bachmann returning from her presidential campaign to run for her 6th Congressional District seat again.

The problem for any candidate, he said, is less in running a campaign than serving in office. The time and rancor of today’s politics is overly taxing, the no-new-taxes politician said.

“It is just a nasty political environment out there, from both sides,” he said.

Learn about Minnesota

The first online Minnesota encyclopedia has debuted at www.mnopedia.org.

The site with information about things ranging from Mayo Clinic to the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is run by the Minnesota Historical Society. It is in prototype stage, but still contains a variety of content.

“We want users to tell us what’s working and what’s not, so we can refine and expand MNopedia in the coming year,” site Editor Erica Hartmann said.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.