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

Senate Minority Leader Melisa López Franzen not running

By: - February 23, 2022

State Sen. Melisa López Franzen, who was elected leader by her DFL colleagues last year, announced Wednesday that she’s not running for reelection. The decision comes after newly released redistricting maps had her matched up in the same district with a veteran DFL colleague, Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park. “It would not be in […]


We’re treating essential workers like they’re expendable, again — Column

By: - November 5, 2021

They slaughtered animals for us — practically shoulder to shoulder during a pandemic — so we could be carnivores.  They cared for the elderly and then watched one after another of their patients succumb to the virus.  They stocked the shelves of grocery stores and brought the food to our cars. They kept Amazon warehouses […]

Anxious Minnesota Democrats have one option: Results

By: - November 4, 2021

Moments after the results came in Tuesday, Ken Martin, the chair of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, made sure its candidates in 2022 would not be saddled with the “abolish” or “defund” police message, if he was going to have anything to say about it. “The failure of Question 2 makes it clear that Minnesotans don’t want […]

4 maps showing how Minneapolis and St. Paul voted on key ballot questions

By: and - November 4, 2021

In some parts of Minneapolis with lots of progressive voters, the signs were ubiquitous: “NoYesYes.”  That referred to the ballot questions faced by city voters Tuesday, who were asked whether they wanted to strengthen the mayor’s office; dismantle the police department and create an office of public safety; and allow the City Council to write […]


Reformer readers react to ‘deep canvassing’

By: - October 22, 2021

Thursday’s Daily Reformer featured a New York Times story datelined Minneapolis about what’s called “deep canvassing.” This is a technique in political campaigns in which the canvassers spend lots of time with an individual voter — and more time listening than talking. They hope to develop a connection, with the possibility of persuading the person […]

Ethics Committee to investigate Rep. Hagedorn for financial misconduct

By: - October 21, 2021

The U.S. House Ethics Committee will review allegations that U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn used his office budget to pay a business owned by his staff and that his campaign accepted free office space from a political donor, a violation of federal election law. The decision to further investigate the congressman from Minnesota’s First Congressional District […]

No deal in sight on essential worker bonus pay

By: - September 27, 2021

Lawmakers remain sharply divided over how to divvy up $250 million the Legislature set aside for bonus pay for essential workers, with the debate largely unchanged after weeks of public hearings and private discussions.  Democrats want to include a larger pool of workers and increase the total pie; Republicans want to keep the total the […]


Police unions should be illegal — Column

By: - September 20, 2021

Imagine in the wake of the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal or the massacre at My Lai, the union representing American soldiers sent out virulent statements of support for the accused officers and enlisted men. Picture the leadership of the soldiers’ union going on TV to defend the actions of their union brethren, warning Americans […]

Rep. John Thompson expelled from House DFL caucus

By: - September 14, 2021

Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul, whose public controversies have created a series of political headaches for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, was expelled from the House DFL caucus Tuesday, according to a statement from House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “Rep. Thompson’s actions, credible reports of abuse and misconduct, and his failure to take […]

Gov. Tim Walz struggling to recruit a pollution control commissioner

By: - August 27, 2021

Gov. Tim Walz extended a deadline for applicants seeking to become commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, a key appointment amid a host of contentious environmental issues facing the state. Laura Bishop, Walz’s first MPCA commissioner, resigned earlier this summer rather than be sacked by the Republican-controlled state Senate, which has failed to confirm […]


Lindell’s dangerous fellow travelers among Minnesota GOP elected officials — Column

By: - August 26, 2021

Jennifer Carnahan’s spectacular implosion as chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota is not even the most concerning recent event for Republicans or — more importantly — the rest of us.  Yes, her close ties to indicted donor and party operative Anton Lazzaro — followed by a cascade of stories of her bullying behavior — are […]

Carnahan resigns as chair of Minnesota Republican Party

By: - August 19, 2021

Jennifer Carnahan, who rocketed from nowhere to prominence in Minnesota politics just four years ago, resigned as chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota Thursday in the face of explosive allegations that she presided over a toxic organization rife with sexual harassment, bullying and paid-for secrecy. Carnahan will leave with a severance package of roughly […]