When Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan stopped by last week, I was shocked.
Nothing she said sent me for a loop. Nothing she did seemed out of the ordinary. No, her new (or just new to me) dark hair had me flummoxed.
Last time I'd seen the lieutenant governor, she had light-brown hair, which I'd always assumed was her natural color. Maybe that's got to become a new question we ask candidates: "Are you really a blonde?"
When I mentioned it to Flanagan, she laughed. "It's much closer to my natural color. My mother is happy."
There's a constituency you don't want to offend: Mom.
Anyway, her nearly black hair surprised me. Between that and the mask (Lt. Gov. Flanagan follows COVID-19 procedures to the letter), when I approached her, I had to ask, "Is that you?"
Can I buy you a beer?
The lieutenant governor was in town as part of a listening tour she and Gov. Walz are taking around the state to talk to businesses about the impact of COVID-19 on their bottom lines, and to hear some suggestions on helping their businesses stay afloat.
Her Rochester stop took Flanagan to Little Thistle Brewing Co., a local craft brewery. On the way out to her car after the meeting, I saw her carrying a growler of beer.
Thanks for shopping local, lieutenant governor.
Making hard choices
That same day, Sen. Amy Klobuchar was going to be in town stumping for U.S. House candidate Dan Feehan. Somewhere above my pay grade, someone decided against sending a reporter — I had offered my services since it was a slow day for me — to that event.
Covering politics is a tricky game. If we run to every event, and those events start to sound repetitive from the peanut gallery, we risk looking like a shill for whichever candidate shows up most often within convenient driving distance of our offices. That's not a reputation any journalist wants to get.
I've spent relatively equal time covering Rep. Angie Craig and her GOP challenger, Tyler Kistner. This close to the election, I'd need a compelling reason to cover either one of them again. That said, if something compelling comes along, I'm ready to go.
Stolle, take note
At this point, a lot of middling political information that comes across our desks will go to hardworking colleague Matt Stolle. Stolle is our state and federal political reporter here at the Post Bulletin. He's starting a political notebook, at least through the election season. Furthermore, we have a reporter covering state politics in St. Paul through our Forum Communications connections.
So, even though we might skip a stump speech or two, we certainly intend to keep covering the rough and tumble of the political races right up to Nov. 3.
As for the lieutenant governor, no word on how she liked the local brew. Maybe next time she shows up, we can share a pint and talk beer instead of politics and COVID-19. I bet that'd make for some interesting notebook material.
Regional Reporter Brian Todd covers Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona and Houston counties along with some cities in Olmsted County. In the After Deadline column every Thursday, he shares behind-the-scenes tales from the newsroom.