A Voyage to the Capitol

MPR News tells tales from the land of Minnesota politics.






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Publication: Minnesota Monthly
Date published: February 1, 2010

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Last December, most Minnesotans knew former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin was at the Mall of America for a book signing. Tim Pawlenty, our own governor, was also busy with a national trip schedule, but most of us probably didn't know it. Why? Palin has star power, say political analysts, and Pawlenty needs to figure out if he can get some fast if he wants to run for president.

"It's interesting to see Pawlenty in the present," MPR News' Tom Scheck says. "He's made trips to Iowa, New Hampshire and is speaking to other high profile GOP groups across the country. The key question is: 'Will those appearances build support for a possible national run?'"

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There are facts, and there are ways to present the facts. Reporters like Scheck, who cover Minnesota Politics for MPR News, work to break news quickly and accurately, all while honing their storytelling craft. As Scheck started to amass a list of Pawlenty 's trips since the day he announced he wouldn't seek a third term- posting the list to MPR's "Polinaut" blog-Scheck noticed how extensive Pawlenty's travelogue was getting. Scheck and his colleagues began searching for compelling ways to relate this story.

Thus fellow MPR News réporter Curtis Gilbert came up with an online feature, "Governor's Travels." It's a map of the United States that shows where Pawlenty has been traveling for both official and political business. The visual aid furthers the story by showing the scope of Pawlenty's travels, both geographically and temporally.

"If you're a little-known governor from a cold state in the middle of the country, how do you go about building your national profile?" Gilbert says. "Well, here's how: you can see it on the map."

Pawlenty is only one branch of our state government. Scheck notes there will be plenty of other things bubbling up at the Capitol during the 2010 legislative session. "The budget deficit will be the main issue," Scheck says. Add to the mix: the nuclear power issue, the Vikings stadium, General Assistance Medical Care, etc. 2010 is also an election year for the governor's office, so expect plenty of coverage of Pawlenty's would-be successors.

60 online to mprnewq.org and view "Polinaut" and "Governors Travels" to keep abreast of stories from the Minnesota Capitol and legislative session. Tune in to MPR News 91.1 FM for continuing coverage of Minnesota politics, or find your frequency or stream online at mprnewsq.org.

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