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Capitol Chatter: Politicians wonder about the different 2016 election

The big question politicos discuss these days is how a Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump presidential race would affect races such as for the state Legislature.

The answer, of course, is that nobody knows, especially given the fact that the two are pretty unpopular.

On Minnesota Public Radio on Friday, House Speaker Kurt Daudt said Republican polling shows expected GOP nominee Trump leads Democratic candidate Clinton in rural Minnesota.

So if Trump sweeps rural Minnesota, does that mean rural districts will follow for Republicans?

Perhaps the most important question is how the presidential race will affect turnout this year. Which party is less likely to show up to support its presidential candidate? Or will voters turn out regardless of the presidential race, with an eye on voting in legislative and local races?

More questions than answers.

Minnesotans might turn to a western neighbor to get an electoral insight.

Most political observers expected long-time Republican stalwart Wayne Stenehjem, attorney general since 2001 and state lawmaker for 24 years before that, to easily win a party primary challenge. But after votes were counted Tuesday, entrepreneur-turned-politician Doug Burgum took a shocking 59 percent to 39 percent victory.

Burgum was the outsider, after leading Great Plains Software in Fargo from a startup through its sale to Microsoft for $1.1 billion in 2001 and serving as a Microsoft executive until 2007.

Rich businessman. Sound familiar? Outsider. Sound familiar?

Businessman Trump and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, both outsiders, did well this year (Sanders won the Minnesota caucuses) because they have not spent much time in the political sandbox. That may be part of Burgum's success, too.

Will such voter feelings affect other races? Does that mean fresh-face legislative candidates will beat incumbents? Should every sitting lawmaker tremble?

Political operatives appear to be digesting the situation and are trying to figure out how to get out in front of it. Few have been willing to make predictions about how it all will shake out.

'Let the public in'

Minimum wage rising

Minnesota's minimum wage is heading up again on Aug. 1.

The state Department of Labor and Industry says large employers must pay at least $9.50 an hour and small ones $7.75 an hour. Training and youth wages also will be $7.75.

Child recovery bill passes

A bill U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar wrote to help recover missing and exploited children is on the presidents' desk to be signed into law.

"As a former prosecutor, I know that returning missing children to their families is one of the most important tasks law enforcement officers have, and they need every tool available to track these children down and bring criminals to justice," the Minnesota Democrat said.

About 200,000 American children are abducted by family members each year. The tax-collecting Internal Revenue Service has addresses for many of them, and Klobuchar's bill forces the IRS to provide them to official investigators in missing-children cases.

Vulnerable adult hotline open

Minnesotans may call toll free (844) 880-1574 to report abuse of vulnerable adults.

Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center will accept calls at any time of day.

"This single statewide hotline serves as an important line of defense against the abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of some of our most vulnerable neighbors, friends and family members," Piper said. "I encourage all Minnesotans who suspect abuse of vulnerable adults to use this hotline."

Davis covers Minnesota government and politics for Forum News Service. Read his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @CapitolChatter.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.