Daily Digest: Trump job approval in MN at 39 percent

Thursday's here, and so is your daily recap of some of the top political stories.

1. Poll shows Trump's approval in Minnesota has slipped. A majority of Minnesotans are unhappy with President Donald Trump’s performance in office and think he’s untruthful, according to a new MPR News/Star Tribune Minnesota Poll. Of 800 likely voters in Minnesota, 39 percent said they approve of his job performance while 56 percent said they disapprove. Five percent were unsure of how the president is doing at his job. That’s a drop from a Minnesota Poll in January of 2018 that showed 45 percent of Minnesotans approved of the president’s performance compared to 47 percent who disapproved, with 8 percent unsure. The latest numbers show stark political polarization over the president: more than 85 percent of the people who voted for Trump in 2016 think he’s doing a good job, while 95 percent of people who voted for Hillary Clinton disapprove of the job he’s doing. Sixty-six percent of self-described independent voters did not approve of his job performance. (MPR News)

A reminder, if you're looking for a deeper dive into those poll numbers, our friends at the APM Research Lab have it for you here.

2. Candidates for governor debate education. Republican Jeff Johnson and DFLer Tim Walz challenged each other’s approach to education during a Minnesota governor’s race forum Wednesday focused on developing the next-generation of workers amid a feared labor shortage. The debate, which took place during the TwinWest Talent Symposium, was the first since the release of a pair of independent polls showing Walz in front of Johnson. The two were asked about the state’s nagging achievement gap between white students and students of color. Johnson called it a significant moral issue that has gone unsolved for too long. “We wring our hands about it and we say it’s terrible, but nobody changes anything,” Johnson said. “And that has to change because we are failing thousands of kids every single year.” The Hennepin County commissioner said parents deserve more chances to use public resources to send their children to private schools. Or he said they should be able to force restructuring of their public schools and to weed out subpar teachers. Walz, a former teacher, took issue with Johnson’s proposals. “You’ve got children 15 percent who are homeless, many of whom are living in cars or tent cities,” Walz said.  And you’re going to give them a scholarship or a voucher where they don’t have transportation, they don’t have housing.” (MPR News)

3. Supreme Court upholds release of sex offender. The state’s highest court has upheld a lower court’s decision to release of serial rapist Thomas Ray Duvall, who has spent more than 30 years locked up for a series of brutal rapes of teenage girls in the 1970s and 1980s. In a one-sentence ruling Tuesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court declined to review a petition by the Minnesota Department of Human Services to review the case of Duvall, whose petition for conditional discharge from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program  had been approved in July by a three-judge state appeals court panel. The decision brings to a formal close a five-year legal battle over the future of Duvall, 63, one of the most violent and high-profile sex offenders in state history. (Star Tribune)

4. Ellison accuser releases medical document. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison’s former girlfriend Karen Monahan has posted a medical document on social media that shows she told a doctor in 2017 that she had been in an abusive relationship with Ellison. Monahan, who said Ellison domestically abused her in 2016, shared the patient progress notes from Nov. 2017 on Twitter several times this week. Ellison, who is running for Minnesota attorney general, has denied the allegation, which emerged in August. Monahan’s son first told the story on social media, and she later confirmed what her son said. During a fight, Ellison pulled on her legs and feet while she was lying on a bed, Monahan said. The document states that she told the doctor she had been in a very stressful environment for years and experienced emotional and physical abuse from a partner with whom she had since been separated. “She did not have any physical injuries that required a physical examination in the past. She identifies the individual she was involved with as congressmen [sic] Ellison, and she is worried about retribution if she identifies him publicly,” according to the patient notes from Park Nicollet. (Star Tribune)

5. Cities seek bee-friendly farm bill. The new federal farm bill could force several Minnesota cities to stop banning a pesticide that can harm bee populations. A final version of the farm bill, which would replace the one expiring at the end of September, is still under debate in a House-Senate conference committee. But the House version of the bill included a provision that would bar cities from placing stricter regulations on pesticides. Shorewood, Eden Prairie, White Bear Lake, South St. Paul, Minneapolis, Andover, Lake Elmo, Maplewood, Mendota Heights and others have banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on public property following University of Minnesota research showing the pesticides can harm bees. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also said the pesticides can harm bees in some cases. Shorewood, located in the western Twin Cities suburbs, is among 60 cities that signed a letter, including five in Minnesota, urging congressional leaders to reject the provision in the final version of the farm bill. The letter-signing effort was organized by the environmental group Friends of the Earth. (MPR News)

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