J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and two young children


Democrats made a big bet on themselves

By: - May 23, 2023

There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen. This insight has been attributed to figures as varied as Marx, Lenin and Steve Bannon, and I heard it from a shrewd lobbyist at the Capitol last week.  Whatever the provenance, this is what we’ve experienced around the Minnesota Legislature this year.  […]


A crazy idea worth considering: more school

By: - May 18, 2023

The Legislature passed a bill that will fund schools for the next two years, and there’s a lot to like, primarily more money.  The legislative session’s education discourse has included a lot about free meals, reading pedagogy, social studies content, unemployment benefits for school hourly workers and what’s known around the Capitol as the “cross-subsidy,” […]


No one is jamming anything down anyone’s gullet

By: - May 4, 2023

I’m getting deja vu lately because I keep hearing a phrase from Minnesota Republicans that is some variation on how Democrats are “jamming” this or that thing they don’t like “down our throats.”  Rep. Dave Baker, R-Wilmar, contrasting his own paid family and medical leave proposal to the Democrats’: “This is a really good deal. […]

Minnesota House speaker defends alerting authorities after reporter’s confrontation with House aide

By: and - April 14, 2023

House Speaker Melissa Hortman released a statement Friday,,saying an internal House policy forced her to take action against MinnPost reporter Peter Callaghan after a press conference confrontation between him and a party spokesman.

Media organizations send letter defending MinnPost Capitol reporter

By: - April 13, 2023

A coalition of media organizations, including the Minnesota Reformer, has sent a letter to Minnesota House DFL leadership, decrying the treatment of MinnPost Capitol reporter Peter Callaghan.  “Journalists should not be forced to walk on eggshells for fear they will be removed or arrested by armed guards if they ask a question that someone on […]

Steve Grove leaves Walz cabinet to join local newspaper

By: - February 14, 2023

Steve Grove, who has been the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development since 2019, was named CEO and publisher of the Star Tribune, replacing Mike Klingensmith. The Star Tribune story announcing the Grove hire briefly mentions the new challenge for Star Tribune journalists, who must cover the Walz administration for a […]


Daily Reformer: Legislature is back; Walz wants to end childhood poverty

By: - January 3, 2023

Welcome back.  Democrats take the helm of the trifecta today with a big agenda to enact, including education funding, abortion, gun control and voting rights. They have the resources to do it, but a one-seat Senate majority and some very hungry interest groups will make it harder than it looks.  House and Senate gavel in […]


You were right, and they were wrong: The year in commentary

By: - December 30, 2022

During an election year that again seemed like a make-or-break contest to preserve American democracy, it’s no surprise that our most read and most influential commentaries were election related.  Dr. Hannah Lichtsinn, a physician and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota, argued that GOP candidate for governor Scott Jensen should have had […]


Memo to Republicans: Stop acting like Minnesota is Mississippi

By: - November 15, 2022

Minnesota’s voter turnout last week was once again robust, but about 100,000 fewer voters cast ballots for governor compared to the midterm election of 2018.  Where were those 100,000 fewer votes? Hennepin and Ramsey counties are responsible for most of the dropoff. Hennepin turnout was down 50,000 votes compared to 2018, while Ramsey County was […]

DFL wins trifecta, upending the governing landscape

By: - November 9, 2022

Minnesota Democrats captured full control of the Legislature Tuesday, holding on to the state House and winning a narrow 34-33 majority in the state Senate. The DFL legislative victory and Gov. Tim Walz’s reelection means Democrats will control both chambers of the Legislature and the governor’s office for the first time since 2014, giving them […]


Daily Reformer Election Day edition: Predictions, hot lava takes, a cool playlist

By: - November 8, 2022

This is today’s Daily Reformer. You can receive it free in your in-box six day per week by signing up here.  Happy Election Day! Will it be our last one? LOL I kid. Democracy crashing does not mean the end of elections — after all, they have elections in Russia and Iran. Reformer reporters will […]


On reading about the Rwandan genocide 28 years later

By: - November 7, 2022

I’m old enough now that books of my youth have new resonance in an entirely different time.  A U.S. military veteran I know recommended a 1998 book called “We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families” by Philip Gourevitch.  It’s an account of the Rwandan genocide of the Tutsi […]