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

Klobuchar now calling for Menendez to resign, joining growing Senate Democratic chorus

By: - September 26, 2023

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, after stopping just short of calling for the resignation of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez a day ago, now says he should step down, the Star Tribune reported Tuesday. Menendez has been charged with multiple bribery-related crimes by the U.S. Department of Justice. Federal prosecutors say Menendez accepted hundreds of thousands of […]


Heat but no light about school safety

By: - September 25, 2023

The police are likely coming back to schools — without a special legislative session or a change in the law — revealing what many of us suspected: This “debate” was a lotta sound and fury, signifying nothing.  A hackneyed Shakespearean phrase, but a true one regarding the past month of frequently phony arguments about whether […]

Minneapolis DFL vice chair resigns, hitting state party on the way out

By: - September 20, 2023

The vice chair of the Minneapolis Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party resigned from his post Wednesday, attacking the DFL endorsement process and what he called voting irregularities around that process on his way out the door. Mike Norton criticized the caucus and convention process, which he called “highly problematic and exclusionary” and “complex and cumbersome.” The upshot, according […]


Minnesota Democrats passed their program — can they make it work?

By: - September 15, 2023

Consider a scenario that could play out in early 2026 as Minnesota’s new paid family and medical leave law takes effect, 10 months before a midterm election when voters will choose a governor and all 201 legislators.  Picture a major IT failure or breach, the wrong taxes imposed on the wrong people, or workers owed […]

Capitol briefs: New Blatnik Bridge, new paid leave director

By: - August 21, 2023

Gov. Tim Walz and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced an effort Monday to get $1 billion in federal funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to rebuild the John A. Blatnik Bridge between Duluth and Superior, Wisconsin. In a statement, Walz called the bridge “a vital route for regional commerce, tourism, and emergency services.” […]

Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN)

Emmer knows Biden won, which means he knows Trump committed a crime against democracy

By: - August 16, 2023

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, who represents the 6th District and has risen quickly in Congress to become the Republican majority whip, is all-in with the coup plotters.  In the hours after former President Donald Trump was again indicted — this time charged by a grand jury for conspiring to overturn the Georgia election he lost […]

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) speaking outside of US Capitol

Democrats should listen to Dean Phillips, or catastrophe may await

By: - August 7, 2023

Democrats have their eyes closed and are silently walking toward a cliff.  President Joe Biden has accomplished more important progressive policy priorities than any president since Lyndon Johnson, but in a recent poll he’s running even with the thrice indicted would-be authoritarian Donald Trump.  Given the Electoral College tilt toward Republicans, that translates into a […]


Why the DFL should care the most about fraud in government programs

By: - August 4, 2023

The Reformer’s Deena Winter reports this week that about half of the people indicted in the Feeding Our Future scandal have ties to nonprofit groups that had other state contracts. It adds up to tens of millions of dollars in contracts granted to the nonprofits to provide services like child care, adult daycare and other […]


A close reading of the DOJ’s breathtaking report on the unlawful behavior of the MPD

By: - July 14, 2023

Minnesota high school students are now required to pass a course in civics to graduate.  “Investigation of the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department” should be a canonical text in any Minnesota civics class, for it illustrates the tyrannical government the nation was ostensibly founded to prevent.  Minneapolis may not exactly be ruled […]

The Easter eggs: The good stuff the Legislature passed you may not have heard about

By: - June 26, 2023

For months in 2022, a few county boards were forced to deal with unruly crowds of right-wing activists who pressured the elected officials to switch to hand-counting paper ballots.  Doing so would have been an unwieldy nightmare for the counties — hand counting is more expensive and less accurate than machine counts, and the grueling process […]


Is Tim Walz running for president? No, but he’s up to something with this national politicking.

By: - June 16, 2023

Gov. Tim Walz will be in Indiana tonight, keynoting the state Democratic Party’s “Hoosier Hospitality Dinner.”  I expect a joke about Big 10 basketball, before a speech hopped up on Diet Mountain Dew that will rally heartland Dems hoping to turn a red state purple.  In March, he was at the Aspen Ideas Festival in […]


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.  […]