NY Times tale of two cities: Duluth & Superior

Duluth newsThe Twin Ports of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin, are front and center in a must-read New York Times story today about the veering political paths of these two neighboring states. Minnesota and Wisconsin have become political science experiments in what happens when one party gets to enact its agenda with full legislative majorities and the governor’s office.

The Monica Davie story explores the lives of several people who live and work on either side of the state line:

This is a well traveled commute between the Minnesota and Wisconsin cities, separated by the St. Louis River. Together, they are known as the Twin Ports for their shared role as a major cargo port, and people on both sides share Scandinavian, German and Irish roots, working-class pasts and a stoic sensibility hardened by a steady chill off Lake Superior.

But these days, when residents cross the bridge, they enter starkly different political territories. Since Republicans in Wisconsin took control of the State Legislature and governor’s office in 2011, and since Democrats gained full dominance in Minnesota last year, people here have watched essential elements of their daily lives — their savings plans, job expectations, personal relationships and health insurance — veer apart.

Few places reveal the chasm like Duluth and Superior, where life along the border has come to look like a jarring, real-time experiment in which neighbors’ lives are suddenly heading along separate trajectories.

There is a video as well. The examples she shares are good reminders of the real effects of public policy on people’s lives. I can attest that my life and livelihood are considerably better for living in Minnesota. Economic growth seems to favor Minnesota right now as well. But those more focused on tax rates and social conservatism will surely prefer Wisconsin. I’m sure the arguments will persist.


  1. I have lots of family in Wisconsin. They are distraught at the changes. The teachers’ benefits were cut, meaning that each teacher family lost close to $10,000. Multiply that by the number of teachers in each small town and city, as well as large city, and you can see the impact. My teacher relatives tell me that the morale is terrible, due to The school boards having much more power to change how things are accomplished without consulting the educators. My daughter encounters lots of people in great need in her job. She says that many of the offices that were in place to help people were cut, resulting in people having to travel long distances to get aid. That’s not easy if you are a person needing aid. My cousin was an employee of the current governor when he was Milwaukee Co Administrator. She didn’t have anything good to say about him in that position, except for his ambition. Say what you will about Minnesota, it sure is doing better in education that the states where my adult children live, which are red atates.

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