Can Democrats wrestle away control from one or both houses of the state Legislature? Also, was a Mankato coach engaged in "innocent family fun" or pornography? And, Minnesota tribes say no to a wolf hunt on tribal land. That and much more today on the MPR News Update.
CONTROL: The presidential and congressional races tend to generate the most headlines ahead of Election Day. But under the radar is another fierce battle, one for control of the Minnesota Legislature. With all 201 legislative seats in play, the candidates and independent groups that support and oppose them are spending millions of dollars to try to sway voters.
MAP THAT: Redistricting, controversial constitutional amendments and a presidential election have put many Minnesota House and Senate races in flux. MPR News political reporter Tom Scheck shares his insights on key races, with the help of this really useful interactive map.
CRAVAACK vs. NOLAN: Speaking of Congress, Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack and his DFL challenger, former Rep. Rick Nolan, met for their final debate Wednesday afternoon at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College in Virginia. We've got the story and audio here.
BACHMANN vs. GRAVES: With Election Day five days away, Kerri Miller is moderating a final debate on The Daily Circuit Thursday with the candidates for Minnesota's 6th District. Check back here for the story and audio later today.
AD WARS: Mitt Romney came under withering criticism Wednesday over his depiction of President Barack Obama's auto industry bailout, with Chrysler and General Motors protesting the ads for being untrue and Vice President Joe Biden accusing the Republican of perpetuating an "outrageous lie."
BEING PRESIDENT: Barack Obama soberly toured the destruction wrought by superstorm Sandy on Wednesday in the company of New Jersey's Republican governor and assured victims "we will not quit" until cleanup and recovery are complete. Six days before their hard-fought election, Romney muted criticism of Obama as he barnstormed battleground Florida.
MORE MARRIAGE CASH: Minnesota for Marriage, the main group working to pass the marriage amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman in the state constitution, raised $3.6 million in cash from Jan. 1, 2012 to Oct. 22, 2012. About $1.6 million, or 43 percent of that amount, came from outside the state.
WHO'S REALITY? It's Nate Silver v. The Baseball Crank! Baseball stat-freaks-turned-political-poll-freaks have been among the most interesting changes in elections in the last few years. Silver, who started as a baseball projector and now runs FiveThirtyEight, is insisting President Obama has about a 77% chance of winning re-election, based on his magical calculations of daily polls. The Crank calls that bosh.
UNDERSTANDING THE ELECTION PROCESS: What, with all the hoopla and news media coverage of the upcoming general election, it's easy to forget that the process of actually casting a vote is unfamiliar or confusing to some folks. Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie recently sat down with The Daily Circuit to answer your questions about the voting process.
UNDERSTANDING THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE: University of Minnesota Political Science Professor Kathryn Pearson talked with Morning Edition host Cathy Wurzer about how the Electoral College could factor into the upcoming Presidential election.
WOLF HUNT BAN: Minnesota's inaugural regulated wolf hunt, set to begin Saturday, is being received with sadness by many Ojibwe people. The wolf plays a central role in the Ojibwe, or Anishinaabe creation story, and wolves are often described as family members. That's why they're banning on the hunt on lands that they control.
WHO GOT THE PERMITS? When Minnesota's wolf-hunt season opens, many of the permitted hunters will likely have seen a wolf before. Some have even felt the impact of the growing number of wolves. That's because wolves and most of the hunters with wolf permits call the northern half of the state home.
LUTSEN WINS: In other environmental news, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says a planned water system to deliver water from Lake Superior to the Lutsen Mountains ski area and nearby businesses will not have significant environmental effects, which means that a nearly $5 million project to apply for permits and begin construction can begin in the spring.
CLIAMTE CHANGE AND SANDY: Superstorm sandy did something no other tropical system has done in the past: Make a sharp left turn in the Atlantic and plow headfirst into New Jersey, above, and New York in late October. What happened? On Updraft, we connect the dots.
HOFFER GETS DAY IN COURT: A Blue Earth County judge heard arguments Wednesday afternoon over a defense request to drop pornography charges again Todd Hoffner, the football coach at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
COLLAPSE: The family of a Minneapolis biology teacher is waiting to find out why she collapsed in front of her class and died on Monday. Lori Blomme taught at Menlo Park Academy in northeast Minneapolis.
HALLOWEEN RACISM: Halloween is time for traditions like pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating and, to hear some tell it, all-too-predictable displays of racism. Costume shops offer getups with names like "Shanghai Delight Geisha" and "Mexican Tequila Party Guy."