Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) “sent emails on Wednesday to a select group” of “Republican donors and political movers” to invite them to a Feb. 12 “important meeting regarding Minnesota’s future.” Longtime Pawlenty adviser Brian McClung “said Pawlenty ‘will be talking with Minnesotans over the coming weeks to assess support and gather advice’” for a possible governor bid. (MPR News)
CAUCUS NIGHT. DFL Chairman Ken Martin “said the caucuses will draw thousands, but short of the record 321,354 that came two years ago. … Precinct caucuses will be held throughout the state, starting at 7 p.m. The first order of business is required by law to be holding a non-binding straw poll for governor.” (West Central Tribune)
THE OTHER REPUBLICANS. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (R) defended state Reps. Cindy Pugh (R) and Kathy Lohmer’s warning of “a plan to ‘mobilize Muslims to infiltrate our Republican caucuses on Feb. 6.’”
Johnson said “Putting Republicans on notice … a good thing. … I think [Pugh] raises very legitimate issues. I think there’s a huge cultural issue we’re talking about here. Not just showing up at caucus. But there are some here who are trying to change what America is. And we can’t allow that. … There are people in this state and country who seek to replace the Constitution with sharia. … It’s not most Muslims, but to deny that this threat exists is pretty naive. … It’s America and we can’t turn people away [from the caucuses] because they’re of a different religion. … I can’t speak to where their information came from, and I‘m not going to get into criticizing legislators when I don’t know the basis of what they had to say.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Former state Party Chairman Keith Downey (R) “has built his campaign around a blend of Trumpian conservatism, business acumen, legislative experience, inclusiveness and an outsider’s take on government’s flaws.”
Downey: “Mark Dayton’s been doing it for seven years, so how hard can it be?” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
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"The Justice Department asked its internal watchdog to examine if there was any impropriety in the counterintelligence investigation of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, after the president demanded Sunday that the department investigate the motives behind the inquiry. Earlier Sunday, in one of a series of tweets targeting the probe into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump wrote: 'I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!'"