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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Different outcomes, different views

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In politics, it is all about winning.

Take, for instance, Al Franken's razor-thin victory over Norm Coleman in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race.

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The day after the state Supreme Court ruled in Franken's favor, making him Minnesota's newest senator, Brian Melendez, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party chairman proclaimed: "Our election system in Minnesota works."

His comments, delivered to a Franken rally, brought loud and long cheers. That was in stark contrast to his GOP counterpart.

In a quiet conference room a couple of hours later, Republican state Chairman Tony Sutton had a far different view of things.

"We were robbed," Sutton said.

Talking to political reporters and in a letter to GOP leaders, Sutton said the high court messed up by allowing some Minnesotans' absentee votes to be counted while rejecting others. That is not fair, he said.

Announcement time

An onslaught of Republican governor candidate announcements begins in the next few days.

State Rep. Marty Seifert of Marshall visits 14 cities on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to formally announce he will run. He just left the House minority leader job to seek the governor's position.

State Sen. Michael Jungbauer of East Bethel announced his intention to run on Facebook, but plans a more traditional announcement soon. State Sen. David Hann of Eden Prairie has filed his paperwork and should announce soon, too.

State Rep. Paul Kohls of Victoria also is running. So is former state Rep. Bill Haas of Champlin.

While many are considering a run, those who appear almost ready to jump into the ring include former State Auditor Pat Anderson, state Rep. Laura Brod of New Prague, state Rep. Tom Emmer of Delano and Charlie Weaver, Gov. Tim Pawlenty's first chief of staff.

Then there is the big elephant, Norm Coleman. The former U.S. senator plans some announcement soon, but is not saying what he will tell Minnesotans.

Women picked

Two Minnesota women are set to take over top federal agriculture spots in the state, if the Senate approves.

Linda Hennen of Woodbury would become state Farm Service Agency executive director and Colleen Landkamer, a long-time Blue Earth County commissioner, would be state rural development director.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., recommended the two in January and the Obama administration now has made their nominations official.

Hennen has worked for the FSA 30 years, half in management. For seven years beginning in 2000, Hennen was district FSA director for 10 southeastern counties, Dakota, Dodge, Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha, Washington and Winona.

The FSA runs a variety of farm-related federal programs dealing with farm commodities, credit, conservation and disasters. The rural development office helps with economic development issues.

Also, Klobuchar recommended five people to serve as members of the FSA State Committee: David Haugo of Waubun, Roger Vogt of Palisade, Kent Kanten of Milan, Richard Peterson of Mountain Lake and Scott Winslow of Fountain.

Housing funds OK'd

More than $28 million in economic stimulus money is en route to Minnesota to build affordable housing.

Hundreds of housing projects across the country are on hold because it is hard for developers to get financing. So the money coming to Minnesota is designed to put some of those projects back on track.

"During these tough economic times, millions of families have lost their homes and are struggling to find affordable housing," Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said. "These funds will help create jobs while providing affordable housing options for Minnesota families."

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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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