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Increasingly Pathetic Phillips Campaign Stumbles On

Plus an ex-Viking wows on 'American Idol,' Fair State sees a swell of support, and MN saunas make the NYT in today's Flyover news roundup.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of important, overlookedand/or interesting Minnesota news stories.

Layoffs, Canceled Campaign Events Be Damned—Phillips Is Still Running

Kenny Rogers once sang, "You've got to know when to hold 'em/Know when to fold 'em." U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips has never heard that song.

"Why is Dean Philips still doing this?" Christopher Ingraham asked in the Daily Reformer newsletter this morning, in linking to MinnPost's latest look at his flailing presidential run, and we have the same question for the struggling Minnesota congressman. For MinnPost, Ana Radelat reports that Phillips has had to lay off a "large number" of his campaign staff, as his fundraising has failed to cover the costs of his longshot White House bid. “I found it almost impossible to raise enough to do this campaign the way I want,” he said in the layoff announcement last week, which was somehow not his most embarrassing social media post from the last few days.

So then, he's surely thinking about calling it, right? Wrong! Though he's canceled plans to campaign in Michigan this weekend ahead of the February 27 primary, and though he's been out-fundraised by Biden to the tune of about $800K even here in Minnesota, Phillips has vowed to keep going. What's that old line about wishing you had the confidence of a mediocre white man? Anyway. Happy Presidents' Day!

The Viking Singer

Remember Blake Proehl, the former Vikings wide receiver who shredded his knee and discovered his singing voice? When we spoke with him last year, Proehl, then 23, was hoping his surgically reconstructed ACL, MCL, and meniscus (a rupture doctors refer to as “The Unhappy Triad”) might heal enough to carry him back to the field. “I’m going to give it everything I have,” he told Viraluae. “I’d love to have a solid career in the league, hang that up eventually, and move to music.”

It looks like that music move is happening sooner rather than later; a visibly choked-up Proehl shared his story on last night's American Idol, before wowing the judges with a performance of Brett Young's single "In Case You Didn't Know." Flanked by his grandma, the current NFL free agent tickled the ivories, gave Katy Perry goosebumps, and struck Luke Bryan as "innocent" and "vulnerable," earning him a spot on season 22 of the somehow-still-on-TV reality show. It's a gridiron to Grammys story in the making, folks.

Fair State Follow-Up

The big beer news last week was that beloved northeast Minneapolis microbrewery Fair State Brewing Cooperative had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. We published an interview with Fair State cofounder and CEO Evan Sallee on the day of the announcement in which he explained that, despite substantial growth in 2023, "The simple reality is the pandemic dug a large hole for us, and we've really just tried to pull every lever we can to get out of it without taking this step."

Sallee sent us a follow-up note on Friday with an update on the outpouring of support they'd seen since that interview went live. From his email:

  • With mere hours of notice on Valentine’s day, over 300 of our member-owners turned out for the meeting where we discussed our situation and the path forward
  • Our taproom has been pleasantly full of our supporting community – Thursday saw twice as many people come through as a normal Thursday
  • Online orders of Chill State have skyrocketed – going up 400% vs the prior week
  • Fans, customers, and partners have stepped up to show their support as well – one HyVee in South Dakota even dropped prices of Fair State to help sell through more and show their support.

So that's nice! We're quite comfortable editorializing that this union-run, cooperatively owned brewery rocks, and we hope they'll emerge from this restructuring stronger and ready to brew for years to come. A Twin Cities where you can't crank foamers is no Twin Cities at all.

Gray Lady Gets Sweaty

We've seen the story done a dozen ways—still, when the newspaper of record comes to town to report on "Minnesotans and their saunas," you better believe we're clicking that link. Here's how the NYT's Ernesto Londoño begins his dispatch from Minnesota, where he moved to from Brazil two years ago:

Jumping in a hole in a frozen lake during a subzero Minnesota winter evening is brutal. Your body spasms and you start to hyperventilate. Pain is sharpest in your toes and fingers as the skin turns bright pink. Teeth chattering uncontrollably, you ask yourself: What on earth was I thinking?

I am not a sauna aficionado, so I can't tell you with certainty how right Londoño gets it with regards to our sweating and cold-plunging culture. I can tell you that this is a fun, long, and in-depth look at the local sauna landscape, with loads of history, a solid lay of the modern landscape, and tremendous photos by Jenn Ackerman.

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