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ST. PAUL -- Rural votes across the country are shifting toward Democratic congressional candidates, according to the Center for Rural Strategies latest poll. The poll of rural voters in 41 contested congressional districts showed that voters preferred Democratic candidates for the U.S. House 52 percent to 39 percent. In mid-September, voters were evenly split between the two parties at 45 percent each. Competitive rural Senate races are nearly evenly split between the parties, the poll shows.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota governor's race remains close, the most recent poll indicates. Survey USA reports Attorney General Mike Hatch, the Democrat, has 45 percent support with Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, showing 44 percent. That is a dead heat since the poll's margin of error is 4 percentage points. An earlier Star Tribune poll gave Hatch a 46-37 lead, but it was taken during the height of Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Foley's sex scandal in Washington and most political observers say that hurt all Republican numbers.
The only statewide judicial contest on Minnesota's Nov. 7 ballot has received little attention. Dan Griffith of International Falls is challenging Christopher J. Dietzen, who Gov. Tim Pawlenty appointed two years ago. It is Griffith's second try for an Appeals Court job after losing two years ago. About 90 percent Minnesota State Bar Association members who participated in a survey said they support Dietzen. A challenge to a sitting judge is rare, and challengers seldom are successful. Just eight of the 74 judges running this year have opponents.
In an effort to control the large carp population in Nicollet County's Swan Lake, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wrapped up a helicopter spraying operation on the lake last week. Two helicopters owned and operated by Teri-John Aviation out of St. Peter delivered some 3,880 gallons of liquid rotenone to nearly 3,000 acres of water remaining in the lake, according to DNR officials.
Applications for the 2007 spring turkey hunt are now being accepted wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials say spring turkey hunters may apply for one of 33,976 permits to hunt a five or seven-day season in one of 60 permit areas. Last year, spring turkey hunters harvested 8,241 birds. "Turkey hunters can look forward to more great opportunities this spring," said Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program leader.
Minnesota deer hunters are being asked this fall to keep a sharp eye out not just for deer, but wild turkeys as well. Some 18,000 deer hunters will be randomly selected to receive a postcard survey asking them to report information about wild turkey sightings while hunting, according to Sharon Goetz, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wild turkey biologist. "The percentage of deer hunters observing wild turkeys is used as an index of turkey population growth," Goetz explained.
ST. PAUL -- The state's Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the proposed constitutional amendment regarding transportation funding will remain on the Nov. 7 election ballot. The seven-member court denied a petition brought by mostly rural Minnesota officials who wanted the measure removed from the election. They said the question's wording is confusing and doesn't adequately explain what will result if the amendment is approved. In issuing the order, Chief Justice Russell Anderson said a written opinion of the court would be forthcoming. That was not released Thursday.
ST. PAUL -- Supporters who want to give their preferred political candidates a financial boost often can do so by visiting campaign Web sites, which make donating money convenient. Most donors, though, still prefer to mail a check. Two years after a presidential election that saw the emergence of online political fundraising as a lucrative campaign strategy, Minnesota candidates report that only a small amount -- if any -- of their money comes via the Internet. "It's a more common tool, though not as much as you would think," Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer said.
ST. PAUL -- The state's highest court probably will decide if voters get to weigh in on the only proposed constitutional amendment in the Nov. 7 election. Minnesota Supreme Court justices heard arguments Wednesday over a petition brought by mostly rural elected officials who want a transportation funding ballot question stripped from the election. Attorney Doug Peine told the seven justices that the ballot question should be removed because the wording will confuse voters and does not adequately explain the amendment's potential ramifications.
ST. PAUL -- A central issue in the Minnesota attorney general's race involves whether the office should continue its pursuit of consumer fraud, mainly in the health care industry, or make public safety a top priority. On that issue and most others, leading candidates Democrat Lori Swanson and Republican Jeff Johnson propose differing visions for the state's top legal office. Swanson, the solicitor general and a top assistant to Attorney General Mike Hatch, said if elected she will keep the office focused on protecting Minnesotans against fraud in the health care system.