Sugar Daddy No More

Sen. Norm Coleman does an about-face on a bill that will hurt Minnesota farmers

Minnesota's U.S. representatives are divided along party lines on the issue. Republicans Mark Kennedy, Jim Ramstad, and John Kline have pledged to support the agreement, while DFLers Betty McCollum, Jim Oberstar, Martin Sabo, and Collin Peterson oppose it.

"If this thing [CAFTA] ends up passing in the end, there's one guy to blame and that's Norm Coleman," Peterson said at a rally in Moorhead two weeks ago, according to the Grand Forks Herald. Peterson went on to take a swing at Kennedy's forthcoming U.S. Senate bid before concluding: "Anybody that takes this position shouldn't be representing Minnesota in the U.S. Senate." (Coleman's spokesman has admitted that calls to the senator's office have tilted toward the negative.) The vote in the Senate was close, but the House vote, which is supposed to happen by the end of the month, is expected to be even closer. Indeed, some analysts question whether the agreement will pass.

Jane Sherman

While campaigning for the Senate, Coleman touted his ability to forge bipartisan compromises and his record of job creation, arguing that he helped to bring 18,000 jobs to St. Paul during his reign as mayor. CAFTA's critics would argue that he's undermined both promises with respect to the trade agreement: Tens of thousands of Minnesota jobs will disappear, while Coleman will preserve his Senate record of voting Republican more than 92 percent of the time. In the end, it might be most accurate to say that he is adept at the intricate dance of pacifying local constituents while pleasing national patrons.

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