Mark Dayton

At almost precisely the minute that Michele Bachmann was declaring her presidential candidacy in Iowa at the end of June, I was interviewing Tim Pawlenty in a borrowed conference room in a midtown Manhattan financial firm. For much of our interview, the long-faced, dark-haired-flecked-with-gray, 50-year-old Pawlenty sat tall in his chair, rarely fidgeting, his hand gestures confined to occasionally pointing for emphasis. Though he maintained steady eye contact, many of his answers were campaign boilerplate, and his mind sometimes seemed miles away.

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It is not the kind of statistic commemorated on a brass plaque at baseball’s Cooperstown or certified by the exacting taskmasters from Guinness. But Minnesota appears to have set a modern-day record for deadlocked state government, with its eleven-day shutdown of all but essential services. In fact, with budget negotiations stalled in St. Paul, Minnesota will soon surpass the epic 15-day federal stand-off between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich in 1995 and 1996.

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[Guest post by James Downie] Last week, Ezra Klein suggested that perhaps the lack of enthusiasm among the GOP establishment for Tim Pawlenty lay in his unimpressive record as governor, including his reliance on "accounting shortcuts" to try to close the deficit, rather than actually cutting the size of the state government. Indeed, one of Pawlenty's favorite habits was shifting costs to local governments, as documented here: Pawlenty oversaw dramatic reductions in higher-education funding and refused to spend more on early childhood programs.

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Eeyore for Governor

Mark Dayton’s place in Washington’s collective memory can be distilled to exactly one moment, on one day: October 12, 2004. That morning, Dayton, a freshman Democratic senator from Minnesota, appeared in front of a line of TV cameras and announced that in the coming weeks the Capitol would likely be the target of a terrorist attack.

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-- Charles Homans profiles Mark Dayton on his not-always-triumphant return. -- David Leonhardt on the growing bipartisan support for clean energy research. -- Pew runs the numbers and finds that pollsters' cellphone bias may be bigger than in 2008.

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