The Minnesota 2010 governor's race is unique.
For one thing, the race is gearing up big time now, while it still is just 2009. It depends on how you count, but there are about 20 Republican and Democratic candidates already in the race, and more are bound to belly up to the bar.
With half of the candidates serving in the Legislature, next year's session is sure to be affected. Many predict that the candidates, including House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher who more than anyone can affect the tone of the session, will want to get out early and hit the campaign trail.
On the other hand, some Capitol insiders claim that the candidates will feel they can get more free publicity by filibustering at the Legislature, so the crowded race actually could prolong the session.
Eleven candidates - eight whom are legislators - gathered for a rare forum involving candidates of both parties last week, a forum, which produced mostly small differences among candidates of each party.
Some tidbits from the Hunger Solutions Minnesota forum:
-GOP Sen. Michael Jungbauer said one of the problems that creates poor Minnesotans is the state puts too many requirements on building or living in a house. That makes homes too expensive for the poor, he said.
-DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said many Minnesotans are falling through the safety net. "Unfortunately, to a lot of Minnesotans the safety net looks like a basketball net."
-Rep. Tom Rukavina said a big part of improving people's lives would be raising the minimum wage as inflation goes up. He also emphasized educating Minnesotans as a way to allow them to earn more money.
-Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton explained his decision not to abide by next April's DFL convention endorsement and his plans to run in a primary election. "In a democracy, the people should decide."
State revenues fall
A recent report shows state tax revenues fell 1.7 percent from what was expected in the first three months of the fiscal year that began July 1. Individual income taxes were down $93 million from what was planned, with sales taxes falling $20 million. Corporate taxes rose $52 million above expectations.
The Minnesota Management and Budget report is an indication only of state revenues; a full state government financial picture will come Dec. 2.
Minnesota Democrats are increasing their attacks on Gov. Tim Pawlenty for his apparent presidential bid.
Take, for instance, this statement from Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Brian Melendez:
"Gov. Pawlenty's ever-changing relationship with Minnesotans reached a new level this week, going from part-time governor to stereotypical mother-in-law. I wish we could say that it was nice of him to drop by, but all we got from him before he headed back out of town was harsh criticism devoid of solutions and a rehashing of old issues. The governor's inability to compromise and his unwillingness to stick around are just a few reasons why Minnesotans are facing the problems that he's so fond of criticizing. Perhaps the governor should clean up the mess in his own house before heading out to yet again worship at the feet of the right-wing elites."
Each Wednesday that the U.S. Senate is in session, Sen. Al Franken hosts a brunch for Minnesotans who happen to be in Washington.
In a letter to supporters the other day, he praised the meal's highlight: "Mahnomen porridge - a Minnesota treat made from wild rice. If you haven't had it, trust me, you don't know what you're missing. So I'll tell you - you're missing something delicious."
Earlier in the week, at a University of Minnesota stop, he said that he tries to serve healthy food at his weekly gatherings. But the porridge, well, it has syrup and cream, among other goodies, and Franken just licked his lips in a sign that appeared to say that the treat was there to stay.
One of the Minnesota Independence Party's major beliefs is up for debate.
The party long has rejected political action committee money, the mainstay of many other campaigns. But on Nov. 21, party delegates will meet to decide whether to break with that tradition.
The party also will consider whether to continue endorse candidates of other parties.
Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Park Rapids Enterprise. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.