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ST. PAUL -- It's the final days of the 2006 Minnesota governor campaign and the two major candidates plan to spend lots of time in western and southern Minnesota, where the farm fields may be mostly cleared, but there remain plenty of votes to harvest. Both candidates were in farm country on Monday. Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, started his day in Detroit Lakes and hit St. Cloud before returning to the Twin Cities and heading southeast to Winona. He also visited Duluth Monday night. He plans to return to rural Minnesota Wednesday, Saturday and probably during a last-day bus tour.
ST. PAUL -- The Nov. 7 election could propel a pair of Minnesota congressmen to key positions in the U.S. House. If Democrats take over the House, Minnesotans probably would lead two of the most important committees to the state -- those dealing with agriculture and transportation. "They can funnel a whole lot of money back to Minnesota," said political science Professor Greg Thorson of the University of Minnesota Morris. Or, as U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar said: "You can't imagine how quickly agencies respond when chairmen call ...
DULUTH -- Voters will decide whether a proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment will smooth roads or just create another pothole. On Nov. 7, they will be asked whether road and transit projects should receive constitutionally guaranteed funds. Supporters of the proposed amendment to dedicate some tax revenue to transportation say it will pump much-needed money into Minnesota's rough roads and insufficient transit systems. "It's an essential first step" to comprehensive funding, said Rick Krueger, executive director of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance.
"Please vote for John Smith in November!" That seven-word sentiment will now cost you 35 cents to run on the Proctor Journal editorial page. As of Thursday, the weekly newspaper announced it will begin charging 5 cents a word to print letters to the editor that endorse a specific candidate. The bill must be paid in advance for the letter to be printed, with a 200-word limit, the editorial states. Proctor Journal publisher and owner Jake Benson explained that the policy, and the editorial announcing it, was born partly out of desperation for a last-minute column idea.
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.