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


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 […]

Trump endorses Jensen for governor

By: - October 26, 2022

Former President Donald Trump endorsed GOP nominee for governor Scott Jensen late Tuesday. “Minnesota finally has a chance to have a great Governor,” Trump wrote on his social media channel, Truth Social. Jensen will “bring Minnesota back from the brink,” he added, citing Jensen as “Strong on both fighting Crime and delivering Solid and Sensible […]


What did the oil industry know, and when?

By: - October 10, 2022

Every day the effects of climate change become more tangible, not as a future to fear, but as a reality to endure.  Sometimes we feel like we’re in a biblical parable. Western drought and heat waves are destroying grapes for wine, particularly ominous given its ancient association with fertility. Fires are ripping through forests and […]

Minnesota Reformer files motion seeking to unseal Mike Lindell search warrant documents

By: - September 28, 2022

The Minnesota Reformer and journalist Tony Webster filed a motion in federal court Wednesday seeking to unseal court documents related to a search warrant served on Minnesota pillow mogul and prominent election denier Mike Lindell.  Lindell said — and the FBI confirmed — that he surrendered his phone to agents in Mankato. He’s since sued Attorney […]


Jensen wants to eliminate the income tax, so he should tell us how much he’d personally save

By: - September 13, 2022

Republican candidate for governor Scott Jensen and his running mate Matt Birk don’t want to release their tax returns because, Jensen says, “I honestly don’t think we can trust the media to stay focused on the issues.” Unfortunately for Jensen, he may as well be talking about his own campaign, which has the focus of […]


Walz needs to confront test scores in his second term

By: - August 29, 2022

Minnesotans were hopeful that Tim Walz would become the education governor. He spent two decades in the classroom as a charismatic high school teacher and coach, and he’s married to an educator.  Surely, Walz was committed and prepared to deal with the burgeoning crisis in Minnesota schools.  What’s the crisis? The state’s once vaunted schools […]

Minnesota test scores down since pandemic; MDE pledges to do more

By: - August 25, 2022

Fewer than half of Minnesota students are proficient in math and 51% are proficient in reading, according to newly released results of standardized test scores. The portion proficient in math decreased from 55% to 45% since the the last pre-pandemic round of tests. Minnesota children proficient in reading decreased from 59% to 51%. Just 41% […]