Welcome to the first full day of the state's general election campaign. We're reporting on the results of primary races in the Minnesota Legislature, and in two key congressional districts, and what the results mean looking ahead to November. We're also following the Minneapolis City Council debate over firefighter staffing levels, a shutdown at the Prairie Island nuclear facility, and continuing out look at the impact of budget cuts on rural law enforcement.
Jon Collins writes that in two competitive congressional primaries on Tuesday, Minnesota voters chose older politicians, neither of whom has served in elected office for decades, over younger challengers. Former congressman Rick Nolan took the DFL nomination in the 8th Congressional District and will face incumbent Republican Chip Cravaack, while former state legislator Allen Quist won the GOP primary in the 1st Congressional District and will challenge incumbent DFLer Tim Walz. (Final tallies here.)
The Minnesota Legislature
Among the legislative races on primary night, a wave of discontent swept through the districts near Lake Minnetonka in the Twin Cities suburbs. Tom Scheck reports in his statewide wrap that Cindy Pugh, a co-founder of the Southwest Metro Tea Party, easily defeated Republican Rep. Steve Smith, who was the longest serving member in the House. And Dave Osmek won a contentious primary for the Minnesota Senate over Rep. Connie Doepke of Orono by a mere 107 votes. (Final tallies here.)
Tommy vs. Tammy
In neighboring Wisconsin, another political veteran staged a comeback. Scott Bauer of the Associated Press says that former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who is 70 years old and hadn't been on a Wisconsin ballot since 1988, won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate and vanquished a tea party favorite in the process. He'll face Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin in November.
Should Minneapolis hire more firefighters?
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak presents his 2013 budget proposal Wednesday and one of the big questions is how much he wants to spend on the city's fire department. The fire chief and the president of the firefighter's union say the department is understaffed. But the chair of the city council's budget committee says the department is providing excellent service at its current size. Curtis Gilbert has a preview of the issue here. Look for more reporting on the meeting's aftermath on the air and online later today and tomorrow.
'Making do' in rural law enforcement
The Ground Level unit's Jennifer Vogel has another installment in our continuing series looking at how tight budgets are affecting rural law enforcement, The Price of Safety. For today's report, she spent time inside the sweltering Minnewaska High School gym near Glenwood with members of the West Central Special Weapons and Tactics Team. She watched as they checked their M16s, M4s and Glock Gen4s before starting a three-hour training exercise, "Making do is a recurrent theme for the team of 16."
Rural domestic violence
Pivoting off the Ground Level series, The Daily Circuit's Tom Reports writes today about a related issue: The challenge of responding to rural domestic violence. It's hard to compare the rates of domestic violence in rural and urban communities, in part because the crimes so often go unreported, and also because of the way data are collected, he says. But Stacy Vinberg, an assistant county attorney in Yellow Medicine County, says her biggest challenge is witnesses who later recant their testimony that they were abused.
Prairie Island nuclear plant worries
Two of Minnesota's three nuclear reactors were shut down yesterday. Fuel oil leaks were discovered in two backup diesel generators at unit one of the Prairie Island plant. There was also a minor coolant leak at the reactor in Monticello, although it was contained by the reactor structure. All Things Considered host Tom Crann talked with Xcel Energy's Terry Pickens about the closures, and Stephanie Hemphill posted an official explanation from the plant.
Request for as frac sand study
Hemphill also reports that Minnesota's top environmental officials are being asked to undertake a broad and comprehensive study into the impacts of frac sand mining in the state. Industry leaders say existing rules do a good job of protecting the environment, but local governments say they need more scientific information as they are asked to come to grips with the burgeoning industry's rapid expansion. We've got a backgrounder here on frac sand mining, and a photo gallery here of frac sand miners at work.