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EDITORIAL BRIEFS A not-so-subtle signal

Mayo sends Gutknecht a message through Walz

Early last week, Democrat Tim Walz, 1st District U.S. House candidate, held a press conference concerning the DM&E; Railroad. It was not as much about Walz as Walz might have thought.

Walz's press conference came on the heels of a meeting he had with Mayo Clinic Rochester CEO Dr. Glenn Forbes.

An innocuous written statement attributed to Forbes took note of Walz's interest in the issue and restated the clinic's concern about the possibility of an upgrade of DM&E; rail that runs through Rochester and next to the clinic and Methodist Hospital.

On the surface, Walz's event was apparently meant to publicize his stance on the conflict between Mayo Clinic and the DM&E; Railroad. It was some of that, but the press conference was also a not-so-subtle signal to the man Walz seeks to turn out of office, incumbent Republican Rep. Gil Gutknecht.

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In retrospect, the press conference became a way for Mayo to put pressure on Gutknecht to offer more support for the clinic than he publicly has on the DM&E; issue.

The unstated message was that Mayo Clinic is putting candidates in two camps: those who support its position on the DM&E; expansion and those who don't.

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; Riding the fence on Bush's war could be costly at election time

The power of an unpopular war to put a premature end to the career of a veteran politician is on display in Connecticut. That's where three-term incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman is facing an uphill battle to win the Democratic primary against an anti-war challenger.

The challenge comes from Ned Lamont, a successful businessman, who is as moderate as Lieberman on most issues. But when it comes to the war in Iraq, Lamont demands to differ, and his campaign has caught fire because of it. Lieberman, who was his party's vice-presidential nominee in 2000, has been pilloried for his support not only of the war, but of the notion that citizens should not speak out against their president during wartime. In a state in which President Bush is extremely unpopular, those views are a recipe for early retirement for a politician.

The latest polls indicate Lieberman will lose next Tuesday's primary to Lamont. The senator has already proclaimed he'll run as an independent in the general election should he lose the primary, and he could well return to the Senate via that route.

But his struggles are an early storm warning to politicians who have been unstinting in their support of a war that the American public has now turned against. Some politicians' careers could also become casualties of the war.

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; Flight attendants may find they're not indispensable

Northwest flight attendants have two options. Accept the company offer of a reorganized pay structure -- or accept what comes. And what's likely to come could very well be a notice of dismissal.

Northwest, in its attempt to reorganize its business model, has been given the authority by a bankruptcy judge to impose new labor terms on flight attendants.

In what is really its only response available, the union is threatening to create work disruptions as a way to fight the company's reorganization.

What Northwest needs are booked flights and revenue that exceeds costs. It'll take a companywide change, and right now the flight attendants are impeding needed restructuring.

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