Daily Digest: Tariffs, wages, and campaign contributions

Good morning and welcome to Thursday, one of just two left before Election Day and the only one left before Halloween. Here's the Digest.

1. Poll: Minnesotans divided over Trump's tariffs. President Trump is counting on his tariff policy to force China and other trade partners to negotiate better agreements with the United States. Minnesotans, however, are far from sold on the president’s tactics. The MPR News/Star Tribune Minnesota Poll survey of 800 likely Minnesota voters last week found that 42 percent approved, in general, of the president’s approach to trade, while 48 percent disapproved and 10 percent were not sure. There were stark geographic differences. Disapproval was highest in Hennepin and Ramsey counties at 68 percent. The highest approval rating was in northern Minnesota at 53 percent. Voters there have seen some benefit to the mining industry from earlier tariffs on imported steel.  Elsewhere, there are concerns about the impact of retaliatory tariffs on agriculture and manufacturing. Republicans overwhelmingly approve of his approach to trade, while Democrats overwhelmingly disapprove. (MPR News)

2. Walz, eventually, says he stands by $15 per hour minimum wage. Democrat Tim Walz, who leads in the race for Minnesota governor, created and then tried to clear up confusion Wednesday about where he stands on raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. At a morning news conference surrounded by mayors from around Minnesota, Walz refused to say what the minimum wage should be. But later in the day, he took to Twitter to reaffirm his support of the $15 standard. His news conference stance appeared to contradict a firm position in bold font on his campaign web site that the minimum wage should rise to $15. The wage sits at $9.65 now for large employers but is due to rise to $9.86 an hour on Jan. 1 because it is indexed to inflation. (MPR News)

3. Democrats highlight Wardlow campaign funds from private college execs sued by state. Republican candidate for attorney general Doug Wardlow took $24,000 from owners and executives of the for-profit college chain Globe University, which was successfully sued for fraud by the state. Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chair Ken Martin highlighted donations from the Myhre family, which owns Globe University, and from Jeanne and Nathan Hermann, who worked for the family’s for-profit college chain, at a Wednesday news conference. "You don’t have to be a campaign finance genius to wonder what these donors are hoping to gain by donating to Doug Wardlow,” Martin said. “The fact that Doug Wardlow has cozied up to individuals who systemically ripped off college students should alarm everyone in the state who has been or could be a victim of consumer fraud.” Billy Grant, Wardlow’s campaign manager, said the donations would be returned because of the “recent litigation” by the attorney general’s office. He called Martin’s criticism “laughable” saying that Wardlow’s Democratic opponent Congressman Keith Ellison has ties to extremists. “The recent poll numbers reflect the obvious: Keith Ellison is unfit to serve as Minnesota’s top cop,” Grant said. (Pioneer Press)

4. Another candidate for AG? Former Ramsey County Attorney Tom Foley registered this week as a write-in candidate for attorney general, although he said it’s short of a full-fledged effort to win the office as an alternate candidate. Foley, who ran in the DFL’s primary in August, said friends have said they want to vote for him in the Nov. 6 election, and his move this week allows those votes to be counted. Foley insists that he is not launching an active write-in campaign against DFL candidate Keith Ellison and Republican Doug Wardlow. “I’m not campaigning. I’m not going out asking people to vote for me as a write-in candidate,” he told MPR News on Wednesday. “But if those people who want to vote for me do vote for me, they wanted to know that the vote would be counted.” (MPR News)

5. Candidates for Hennepin County attorney spar over criminal justice reform. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and his challenger, Mark Haase, squared off Tuesday night during a Minneapolis forum. Freeman has served as Hennepin County attorney for nearly 20 years, first in the 1990s and now for the past 12 years. "Two years ago, I discontinued the use of grand juries in officer-involved shooting cases to make it more transparent and more accountable. I've redesigned drug charges and sentences. We've tried to reduce criminal impacts to lower level offenders," Freeman told the enthusiastic crowd in the North High School auditorium. Freeman also promised to make other reforms to address the disproportionately high numbers of people of color in the criminal justice system and more specifically, in the Hennepin County Jail. However, his challenger said the inequities in the system continued under Freeman's watch."When my opponent talks about being a reformer now, I hope you really question that based on his record," said Haase. "I like to hope that if he wins, he's going to make these reforms he's talking about. I don't have a lot of confidence in that based on his record." (MPR News)

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