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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Bachmann flexes fiscal muscle

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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Bachmann flexes fiscal muscle
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U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann appears to have appeal well outside her district.

While her aides deny she is interested in running for governor, an analysis by the University of Minnesota's Smart Politics blog shows her financial reach extends outside of her 6th Congressional District, which stretches from St. Cloud through northern Twin Cities suburbs into the eastern Twin Cities area.

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Eric Ostermeier reports that the colorful and quotable Republican raised more individual contributions in the St. Paul-area district served by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum than did McCollum. And she raised nearly as much money in the second quarter of the year in U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison's Minneapolis-centered district than did Ellison.

Bachmann raised $17,650 from individuals in McCollum's district last quarter, compared to $1,825 that McCollum herself received.

Ostermeier figured out that Bachmann raised a higher percentage of contributions from Minnesota individuals than McCollum, Ellison, Collin Peterson and Jim Oberstar. Of course, the other members of Congress have more access to special interest money because they have leadership roles and are in the House Democratic majority, so they can get money from political action committees and out-of-state donors easier than Bachmann.

Added Ostermeier: "Perhaps the most dramatic way to slice the data is as follows: The total sum in large donor individual contributions raised by McCollum, Ellison, Peterson and Oberstar in their respective home districts ($16,475) was less than 60 percent of the amount Bachmann received from residents in these four DFL districts ($28,200)."

'More ethanol'

Increasing the percentage of ethanol in gasoline is a good way to help farmers, North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said at a Senate hearing.

"It's time that we invest in the workers and farmers of the Midwest instead of the oil cartels of the Mideast," Democrat Klobuchar said. "Ethanol has been nothing short of a revolution in Minnesota's rural economy and we need to continue to invest in this important fuel source. By increasing the percentage of ethanol blended into gasoline from 10 to 15 percent, we can create jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

Hoeven, a Republican, and Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter of Colorado testified to the same things at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing.

Ethanol now is made mostly from corn, although other plants are being considered as a source.

Ritchie is secretary

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie will be the National Association of Secretaries of State secretary for the next year.

"With major election legislation moving in Congress and important local and state elections coming in 2010, I have an opportunity to help other states reach Minnesota's level of success in elections administration and voter turnout," Ritchie said.

New vets' site

The Minnesota Veterans Affairs Department unveiled a new Web site meant to make it easier for veterans to find answers to their questions.

The site, www.minnesotaveteran.org, is organized around the frequently asked questions concept that officials say will be easier to navigate.

"We are focused on serving Minnesota veterans and their families in the most comprehensive and user-friendly way possible," said Michael Pugliese, deputy veterans affairs commissioner. "This Web site takes advantage of new technologies, allowing us to deliver a high level of service while remaining focused on the ever-changing needs of our veterans."

The site provides for a quick way to send questions to the department as well as to search by topic.

A big speech

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is stepping up his effort to introduce himself as a potential presidential candidate, Politico reports.

The political Web site says he will deliver "a major speech" on July 30 to the Republican National Committee meeting.

"Pawlenty's July 30 address to national committee members in San Diego represents something of a national party debut for the second-term governor," Politico reports. "While he gained some notoriety as a frequent surrogate and vice presidential finalist for John McCain last year, 'T-Paw,' as he's often called, is not well-known among the sort of state-level activists and donors who make up the RNC and who play a key role in presidential politics."

Last weekend, Pawlenty skipped the National Governors' Association, visiting troops in Iraq instead, but next month he plans to be at the Republican Governors' Association meeting in Puerto Rico. He also is making speeches to other Republican groups across the country.

Also, he has attended education, health-care and other policy meetings in recent weeks.

Otto a chairwoman

Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto will become Human Resources Committee chairwoman of the National State Auditors' Association.

"Work force and succession planning issues have surfaced as the baby boomers retire," Otto said. "Recruiting and retaining a highly professional staff in state auditors' offices can be challenging, and it requires proactive strategies."

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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