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Current Political News

Minnesota Election Analysis

Election night was a big night for Democrats in Minnesota, picking up control of the Minnesota House and winning the offices of State Auditor and Secretary of State.  Governor Tim Pawlenty managed to hold on to his seat by one percentage point and has emerged as one of the few Republican Governors who were able to ride out the anti-Republican tide. He will remain as the Republican’s figurehead and a check against the state’s Democratic House and Senate.   Democrats in the House and the Senate do not have the respective 90 and 45 seats needed to override potential vetoes.  Pawlenty’s national capital has also been noted since his tight re-election win and there is speculation that he may end up on the short-list for potential Vice-President running mates.

Senate Democrats were able to maintain the majority that they have held for the past three decades and increase it by six seats to have the Senate composed of 44 Democrats and 23 Republicans.  The House has been viewed as the body with high turnover this past election but the Senate will be composed with 27% new members while 26% of the House will be new members.  Most notably in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson was defeated leaving the Senate in search of new leadership. 

The House Democrats were able to pick up 19 seats going from being in the minority by two seats to having an 85-49 majority.  In the House there were no incumbent Democrats who were defeated.  There were twelve Republican incumbents who were defeated including former Republican chairmen Greg Davids, Tim Wilkin, and Phil Krinkie.  Republicans have held control of the House since 1998. 

Looking at the Minnesota Legislature, there were a number of factors in play that helped Democrats pick up a net of 19 seats in the House and 6 seats in the Senate.  Suburban areas such as Woodbury, Eagan and Shoreview that have traditionally been Republican area where a number of Republican incumbents lost.  In Dakota County, which has traditionally been Democratic, the Senate picked up two seats and the House was able to pick up three seats. 

A number of the DFL candidates who won this year ran as moderates and centrists and pledged to work cooperatively.  On the flip side, some of the incumbents who lost, for example Dean Johnson and Phil Krinkie were considered polarizing candidates who were associated with the recent legislative gridlock.  New suburban Democrats may have the effect on moderating the DFL caucus agendas as they face the task of compromising with Governor Pawlenty.  It will also have the opposite effect on the House Republican and Senate Republican caucuses who will likely become more conservative after a number of their more moderate members lost their re-elections bids. 

Turn-out may have been a factor in some of the legislative races where incumbents lost.  It appears that many Republicans may have just stayed home this election.  The preliminary numbers from Dakota County show very low turn-out with only 24% of registered voters casting ballots.  There is speculation that dissatisfaction with national politics may have led many Republican voters to sit this election out especially in the suburbs. 

In a year that saw Minnesota’s first elected female U.S. Senator, gender may have played a role in some legislative races.  Polling before the election showed male candidates having a tough time against female opponents.  This factor may have helped Sandy Masin defeat Tim Wilkin and Shelly Madore defeated Lloyd Cybart. It also may have protected some female incumbents who did not have a problem getting re-elected. 

Looking at the bios of the newly elected members, there are a few points that standout.  There is no denying that education is an important issue in the state.  It is interesting to note that out of the thirty-five freshmen House members, twelve are teachers or educators.  Eight of them have served on their local school boards or school committees.  It is hard to know whether having a teaching background encouraged them to run or whether teachers had a greater chance of winning in close races this year. 

Focusing on the new members’ education backgrounds it is stunning to look at the educational degrees earned by the new House members.  Of the thirty five new members, sixteen have Masters Degrees; three have JD’s and two have a PhD.  Out of the Senate’s eighteen new members, two have Masters Degrees and two have a J.D.  

One interesting phenomenon is that all of the close House races broke toward the House Democratic candidates.  Four of the races that House picked up were decided by fewer than sixty votes and will automatically be recounted.  The four races are: Paul Gardner over Phil Krinkie, Ken Tschumper over Greg Davids, David Bly over Ray Cox and Sandra Masin over Tim Wilkin. 

New Member Statistics

44 Democrats - 23 Republicans
18 Newly elected members (27%)
15 Democrats, 3-Republicans
10 Men, 8 Women
9- Rural, 6- Suburban, 2- Urban

Professions include:
6- School Board or Education Committee Members
5- Small Business Owner
2- RNs

1- Attended U of M
3- Associates degrees
9- Bachelors
2-  Masters
2- J.D.
1- Not available

85 Democrats - 49 Republicans
35 Newly elected members (26%)
29- Democrats, 6-Republicans
20- Men, 15- Women
17- Rural, 15- Suburban, 3- Urban

Professions include:
12- Teachers/ Educators
8- School Board or Education Committee Members
3- Small Business owners

2- Associates Degrees
11- Bachelors
16- Masters
3- J.D.
2- PhD
1- Not available

We will be sending out updates next week on some specific topics and the legislation we are anticipating in those areas.  We will also keep you informed on the latest news regarding leadership and committee assignments. 

New Legislators

Minnesota Senate

Mary Olsen (DFL) – Senate District 4
Sen. Mary Olsen will represent Minnesota’s 4th Senate District which includes Bemidji and a large portion of North-Central Minnesota. A former Air Force Captain, Mary has practiced law in the military, government and private sectors for more than 20 years. She currently focuses on employment/discrimination consulting work to allow more time for community and public involvement. Mary and her husband Jim have four adult children and live in Bemidji. In her spare time, Mary enjoys enjoy fishing on Big Bass Lake and hunting with her husband on the land his grandparents farmed south of Bemidji. She and her husband also like to walk with their dogs on the Paul Bunyan Trail.

Tony Lourey (DFL) - Senate District 8
In assuming his new duties, Tony picks up where his mother, retired State Senator and former Minnesota Gubernatorial candidate Becky Lourey, left off. Tony lives with his wife and three children in Kerrick Township and has helped build a successful company that works with states and counties to obtain federal funding for their health care, foster care, mental health, and juvenile justice programs. He is currently studying law at Hamline University. As state Senator, he plans to fight for quality education and access to affordable health care. He also plans to work to build our local economy and create jobs that pay a living wage. And, he will build coalitions to ensure that his district obtains the funding it needs for new roads and infrastructure

Dan Skogen (DFL) – Senate District 10
Dan grew up near Phelps Mill in Maine Township, and has worked for the past 24 years as the Sports Director at radio stations in Wadena. He and his wife Dee and raised two sons on their farm near Hewitt in Oak Valley Township. According to his campaign web site, Dan believes that all Minnesotans deserve to be rewarded for their honest, hard work with a living wage and a fair tax system.

Bill Ingebrigtsen (R) – Senate District 11
Bill brings with him 34 years of public service, 15 of those years as Douglas County Sheriff and Emergency Management Director, supervising 75 people. Bill and Marilyn have been married for 35 years. They live in Ida Township of Douglas County, in the center of Minnesota’s Senate District 11. They have two children and five grandchildren.

Joe Gimse (R) – Senate District 13
Chances are that Minnesota historians will go on to view Senator Gimse as the man who defeated Dean Johnson. Sen. Gimse owns a small construction business in Willmar, served honorably in the U.S. Army, belongs to a number of hunting clubs and is active member of the St. Mary's Catholic Church in Willmar. Gimse and his wife Lanae have raised four children and currently have three grandchildren. A fiscal and social conservative, Gimse received endorsements from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage, Minnesotans for Life, and Neighbors for Life, and plans to use his experience as a businessman fight for lower taxes, efficient government, and less government regulations.

Rick Olseen (DFL) – Senate District 17
Rick Olseen, who defeated Sean Nienow, is a former North Branch school board member, and most recently served as a Chisago County Commissioner. He has been a Teamster and Member of the International Association of Machinists, and places a heavy emphasis on the importance of volunteering and community involvement. He and his wife Bambi live Sunrise Township in Chisago County, where they have raised two daughters. As Senator, Olseen hopes to advocate for property tax relief, nonpartisan solutions to transportation challenges facing his district, sensible environment protection measures and increased access to affordable health care for all Minnesotans.

Kathy Sheran (DFL) – Senate District 23
Born in Mankato, Kathy Sheran has worked in clinical practice as an RN and in nursing education for 30 years. In addition, since 1995, she has periodically worked as a special projects manager and troubleshooter in her husband’s business, Security Management and Realty, a property development and management company that manages commercial and multiple family housing projects. In 1983, Kathy was elected as President of the Mankato City Council, and served for 16 years, as mayor pro-tem. She served as Mayor in the last year due to the Mayor’s resignation. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Nursing in the College of Allied Health and Nursing at MNSU, Mankato. As Senator, Sheran looks forward to becoming extensively involved with health care policy and finance issues.

Ann Lynch (DFL) – Senate District 30
As Sheila Kiscaden’s handpicked successor, it is no surprise that Rochester School Board member Ann Lynch ran on a platform based on uniting moderate legislators at the Capitol. According to her campaign website, Ann is very involved in the community in a number of areas including the Rochester Boys and Girls Club, Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, and Rochester Public School Foundation. She is also an Ambassador for Minnesota School Boards Association.

Sharon Erikson Ropes (DFL) – Senate District 31
In predicting which newly elected Senators may find a seat on the Health and Family Security Committee, chances are Sharon Erikson Ropes might be a safe bet. As a registered nurse, a Navy veteran, a Red Cross disaster relief nurse, a former Chair of the Winona Area Public Schools, it’s no surprise that she lists affordable healthcare and solid education opportunities are two of her legislative priorities. Veterans’ needs, environmental protection, and sustainable development are all also issues of importance to her. Originally born and raised in Two Harbors, Sharon has been married for 25 years to Milton Ropes, M.D., Urology, and they have three adult children.

Jim Carlson (DFL) – Senate District 38
In what in recent years has been considered a Republican stronghold, DFLer Jim Carlson has been elected to represent SD-38, most of which includes the city of Eagan. Carlson ran a campaign centered on working to restore cooperation to Minnesota’s political climate by putting progress ahead of politics. Jim earned his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering Degree at the University of Minnesota and worked in manufacturing management positions at both Ecolab and 3M. Besides his work-related experience, Jim is very involved in community activities. He helped to form the local District 196 Support Group of the Gifted and Talented. He is also a leisure time bike rider, woodworker, classic sports car buff, videographer and gourmet cook.

John Doll (DFL) – Senate District 40
A lifelong Minnesotan who has lived in Burnsville for the past 22 years, John Doll was another surprise victory for the DFL in the 2006 election, having defeated Sen. Bill Belanger, who served in the Senate for 26 years. Doll owns a residential tile and stone contracting business, and according to his campaign web site, participated in the local music scene in the 1980s. Doll is married with six grown children and six grandchildren; and volunteers regularly for the Save the Children and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The central focus of Dolls campaign was his belief that it is time for Minnesota to build a health-care system that brings affordable, quality care to all residents.

Ron Latz (DFL) – Senate District 44
Prior to his election to the Senate, Ron Latz served for two terms in the Minnesota House, and prior to that served on the Saint Louis Park City Council from 1999 to 2003. A private small business owner and attorney, Ron was raised in Golden Valley, attended our local schools, graduated form Hopkins High Schools before receiving his degree from Harvard Law School. As a legislator, Latz focused on ensuring K-12 education was adequately funded, advancing environmental protection initiatives and eliminating traffic congestion in his district. Latz also emerged as a leader in fighting one of the top causes of preventable death—secondhand tobacco smoke. Ron’s father, Bob Latz was also a state legislator, serving in the House from 1959 to 1967.

Ray Vandeveer (R) – Senate District 52
Although 2007 will be Ray Vandeveer’s first legislative session in the Senate, he is no stranger to the Capitol, having served four terms in the State House. Upon graduating from Saint Cloud State, Vandeveer began renovating homes in the inner city and has since enjoyed a successful career in housing real estate industry. He currently owns his own real estate appraisal business. During his time in the House, Vandeveer established a solid reputation as a tireless advocate for smaller government.

Sandy Rummel (DFL) – Senate District 53
After serving three terms with the White Bear Area school board; Sandy Rummel decided to take the plunge and run for the State Senate. The White Bear Lake resident and small business owner handily defeated incumbent Mady Reiter, and given her experience on the School Board, it should be no surprise that Rummel plans to focus on securing “stable, equitable public school funding and increased parent involvement,” as stated on her campaign web site. Rummel is married with two adult children.

Kathy Saltzman (DFL) – Senate District 56
Kathy, her husband Ted, and their two children have lived in Woodbury since 1994. An education advocate for the past ten years, Kathy has worked with legislators from both parties to help pass legislation that provided needed funding for local classrooms and greater tax equity for local property owners. Prior to her present position, sheworkedin marketing and outreachat theUniversity of Minnesota Hospital and Clinic and for the Mayor of St. Paul.

Katie Sieben (DFL) – Senate District 57
After serving two terms in the House, Katie Sieben threw her hat in the ring for the SD-57 Senate seat to replace retiring Senator Sharon Marko. In the Senate, she will continue to focus on achieving tax fairness for working families, expanding access to affordable quality health care for all Minnesotans and building and maintaining a transportation system that reflects the needs of Minnesotans. Katie is currently a fellow at the Humphrey Institute, volunteers as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters and serves as a board member of Friends in Need Food Shelf and Serve Minnesota, which promotes service and volunteerism. Sen. Sieben and her husband currently live in Newport.

Patricia Torres Ray (DFL) – Senate District 62
Originally from Colombia, Patricia Torres Ray comes from a family of eight siblings and a large extended family that maintains close ties. Ray lived in Colombia until she met her husband, Jack, a student from the University of Minnesota, who had traveled to Colombia in a study abroad internship. They were married in 1987 and moved to Minnesota where she learned English, worked various jobs, and completed her education. Ray now holds two degrees from the University of Minnesota: a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies and a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the Humphrey Institute. Ray has volunteered in many nonprofit organizations that provide social services to children and families. Ray, her husband and two sons now live in the Longfellow neighborhood.

Dan Larson (DFL) – Senate District 63
After serving four terms in the Minnesota House, Dan successfully made the jump to the Senate where he will take over the seat formerly held by Jane Ranum. No stranger to state politics, Larson got his start working as an aide to Sen. Phil Riveness, and has been engaged in state politics ever since. Larson distinguished himself in the House as a leading advocate for transportation funding in the metropolitan area and as one of the legislature's leading advocates for families of children who suffer from autism. He will continue to carry the torch for these and other issues in the Senate. Larson and his family live in Bloomington.


Minnesota House of Representatives

Note: The vast majority of information in this document was taken from candidate profile books put together by the House Democratic and Republican Caucuses.

David (Dave) Olin (DFL – 1A)
Dave Olin was raised on a farm near Ada, Minn., and attended Concordia College in Moorhead. He then went to the University of Minnesota Law School and graduated in 1972. Since then, Dave has been practicing law in Thief River Falls as the Pennington County Attorney, marking 32 years of service. Dave has also worked with the County board and numerous other agencies within his district, gaining experience he hopes can be used to benefit the legislature.

Tom Anzelc (DFL – 3A)
Tom Anzelc is a Keewatin native and resident of Balsam Township with nearly 30 years of experience in public service in Northeastern Minnesota. The former teacher and coach first entered public service in 1980 when he was elected to the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners. Anzelc also served as Assistant Commissioner for Health and Human Services under the Perpich administration, Executive Director for the Governor’s Advisory Council on State and Local Government Relations and Executive Director for the Gambling Control Board. Anzelc is a strong advocate for expanded access to health care services for all Minnesotans and increased funding for schools and local governments.

Tim Faust (DFL – 8A)
After losing by 76 votes in 2004, Tim Faust knew that a rematch against Judy Soderstrom in 2006 was eminent. Tim graduated from North Dakota State University in 1983 with a major in Agriculture Economics. He worked for a local Farmer's Union, which eventually led him to Mora in 1990, where he managed the Kanabec Cooperative thru 2000. Most of Tim's spare time is spent raising his three children Jared, Tyler, and Zachary. Tim also finds time to be active in his community. He has always been very active in his church congregation, where he has led the Children's Choir, taught Sunday School, and currently serves as the congregation president of Calvary Lutheran Church in Mora. Adequate funding for education, increased access to health care services for all Minnesotans and lower property taxes are three issues that Tim considers legislative priorities.

John Ward (DFL – 12A)
Even though his race was one identified by some DFLers as a sleeper, John Ward’s election to office was still a surprise to many observers. John has been an educator for the past 32 years, teaching people with difficult backgrounds and troubled lives. His experience in this capacity includes stints working as an Adult Basic Education Instructor for the Northeast Regional Corrections Center, the Recreation Director and the Community Coordinator for Project C.A.R.E., and the Alternative Education Director in Proctor. John and his wife Sally are also licensed property/casualty insurance agents. Ward served on the Proctor City Council for four terms, and served two terms as Mayor. He and his wife have four children and four grandchildren.

Al Doty (DFL – 12B)
Al Doty grew up and worked on his family’s grain and beef farm near Campbell until after college. He received a B.A. with distinction from the University of Minnesota where he majored in Political Science/History/Social Studies, and he did graduate work at the University of Manitoba. Al worked as a teacher, wrestling coach and technology coordinator at Pierz High School for more than 30 years. He has been very active in his community as a founding member of Faith Community Church, a lifetime member of the NRA, the Nature conservancy and the Rice creek Sportsman’s club. He lives with his wife Donna and their two stepchildren.

Steve Gottwalt (R – 15A)
Elected to succeed former Ways and Means Chairman Jim Knoblach, Steve Gottwalt is no stranger to St. Cloud politics, having served most recently as the Vice President of the St. Cloud City Council. The former Communications Director for the Diocese of St. Cloud also chaired the St. Cloud Area Economic Development Partnership. Steve lists listening to residents, developing good jobs, strengthening public safety, improving education and holding down property taxes as legislative priorities on his campaign web site. He, his wife and their five children live in St. Cloud.

Jeremy Kalin (DFL – 17B)
Jeremy moved to Chisago County in 1996, and has worked for 10 years to build coalitions and find common ground. He works as a designer and draftsman for Natural Spaces Domes, and describes his job as working to chase down problems, sit down with all sides to determine the cause, help craft the most efficient solution that can improve his employer’s products, and move the company forward. Kalin looks to bring his negotiating skills to the Capitol in hopes of building bipartisan coalitions dedicated to moving the state forward.

Ron Shimanski (R-18A)
Ron Shimanski has been elected to succeed Scott Newman, who retired from the legislature to run as a judicial candidate in the First Judicial District. Shimanski is a farmer and small business owner with three sons and three grandchildren. As a Representative, Shimanski aims to review the state’s priorities, set budget allocations for what is essential for operations of state government, examine the budget of every department and cut unnecessary funding.

Terry Morrow (DFL – 23A)
Terry Morrow has been deeply involved in his community, working locally to improve public education as a youth soccer coach. He has served as chair of the St. Peter Board of Education since 2004 and serves the Minnesota Valley Education District, which provides special education services for seven local school districts. He is also a member of the St. Peter Public Access Board and the St. Peter Historic Preservation Commission. Terry Morrow is a professor of communications studies at Gustavus Adolphus College. He received a PhD from Northwestern University. Terry and his wife have two daughters, Maggie and Sally.

Kathy Brynaert (DFL – 23B)
Kathy is the chairwoman of the District 77 School Board and works part-time as Director of Parent Education for the Council for Health Action and Promotion. Kathy earned her undergraduate degree from the College of St. Theresa in Winona, earned a Master’s in Philosophy, and completed two years of doctoral work. She has been very involved in volunteer work. Kathy and her husband Tony have three daughters and reside in Mankato.

David Bly (DFL – 25B)
The third time was the charm for David Bly, who managed to defeat Ray Cox after two narrow losses in a district that John Kerry won in 2004. David has been a teacher for over 30 years, nearly 20 of which in the Northfield Public Schools. He currently serves as the Lead Teacher at the Northfield Alternative Learning Center, and participates in many local organizations including the First UCC of Northfield where he has been Deacon and Moderator, the Northfield Union of Youth and the Northfield Arts guild among others. David has two children and lives in Northfield.

Robin Brown (DFL – 27A)
Robin received a B.S. in Art Education from Minnesota State-Mankato and an M.A. from Saint Mary’s University in Winona. Robin taught at Mankato West High School from 1997 to 2002, and now teaches art and photography at Albert Lea Hich School. She also owns and operates Wedgewood Peruvian Pasos where she breeds, trains and sells Peruvian Paso horses. She and her husband Joe have six children.

Sandra Wollschlager (DFL – 28A)
Sandy earned her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Augsburg College and an M.A. in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She has worked as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Specialist at the 3M Company and has helped develop solutions that have enhanced environmental safety while improving business performance. She has been active with the community and received the 2003 Community Volunteer Award in recognition of a 25-year commitment to youth development. Sandy has been married to her husband Joe for 30 years and they have two grown children. 

Kim Norton (DFL – 29B)
Kim Norton first turned heads in the Minnesota political scene in 2004 when she came within 311 votes of defeating Health Policy and Finance Committee Chairman Fran Bradley in what was believed to be a Republican-friendly district. Two years later, the Rochester School Board member and District Manager for Junior Achievement-Rochester Area succeeded in capturing the open seat created by Bradley’s retirement from the legislature. Norton serves on the National PTA Board of Directors and has served as President of the Minnesota PTA. During her time volunteering in her community, Norton has established a reputation for respecting the importance of open communication and respectful listening.

Ken Tschumper (DFL – 31B)
Ken Tschumper owns and operated Red Oak Farm, a fourth generation dairy farm. Ken received a B.A. from Winona State University, has served as supervisor of the LaCrescent Township Board, President of the Houston County Farmer’s Union and a DFL Party office holder since 1974. From 1988 to 1990, he served as a member of Governor Perpich’s Dairy Task Force. Ken is actively involved in environmental and agricultural issues. He and his wife have three children.

 John Berns (R – 33B)
Elected to take the reins from retiring legislator Barb Sykora, John Berns is already a regular at the Capitol. Berns served as an aide and attorney to Governor Tim Pawlenty, holding the positions of Director of Board and Commission Appointments and Associate General Counsel to the Governor. The former felony prosecutor is also a volunteer firefighter, and served on the Wayzata City Council.  John is married with two children.

Shelley Madore (DFL – 37A)
After losing to Lloyd Cybart by 466 votes in 2004, Shelley immediately began campaigning for the 2006 rematch. Shelley is a community volunteer and activist for the special needs community, works as a volunteer facilitator for ARC, and serves as a liaison for her school district special needs list serve, and in her 11th year of service on the Apple Valley Urban Affairs committee. Shelley and her husband Paul have two children.

Sandra Masin (DFL – 38A)
Sandy Masin is the mother of three grown children who attended public schools and graduated from Burnsville High School, and her life has recently taken on another dimension with the addition of two grandchildren. Since the age of 16, Masin has worked in retail sales, office administration, real estate and, during the last 10 years, as an independent financial services representative. Sandy holds a B.A. in Government with an Economics minor from Valparaiso University in Indiana.

Will Morgan (DFL – 40A)
Born and raised in Oak Park, IL, Will moved to Minnesota to attend Carleton College in 1984, and has been teaching here ever since. For the past 13 years, Will has been teaching physics and chemistry at Burnsville High School. In addition to his teaching duties, Will has been an assistant volleyball and tennis coach, chair of the High School Site Council and Science Department Area Leader. He has also served as the chief negotiator for the teachers of District #191. Will and his wife, Denise who teaches science in Apple Valley, have one son.

Sarah Anderson (DFL – 43A)
Following the path similar to that taken by a number of other legislators from legislative staff to State Representative, Sarah Anderson was working as an administrative staff supervisor with the House Republican Caucus when she decided to run for an open seat vacated by Republican Attorney General Candidate Jeff Johnson. The former director of the House Republican Campaign Committee has served on a number of boards in Plymouth where she and her husband reside.

John Benson (DFL – 43B)
John Benson ran for office because he believes that in recent years, ideological fights have increasingly replaced Minnesota’s long tradition of bipartisan problem solving. The retired high school Politics, History and American Government teacher believes state government should return to its primary mission of the best possible deliver of essential services including education, law enforcement, transportation, environmental protection and care for those unable to provide care for themselves.

Ryan Winkler (DFL – 44B)
Ryan Winkler was born and raised in Bemidji where he attended public school. Ryan earned a B.A. in History from Harvard University and a Law Degree from the University of Minnesota. He currently works as General Counsel for Nazaca Solutions; a Minneapolis based software company that helps local governments operate more effective and efficiently. He worked as an organizer for the 2004 John Edwards Presidential Campaign and is the founder of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Constitution Society. Ryan lives in Golden Valley with his wife and their 2-year-old son.

Caroline Laine (DFL – 50A)
Carolyn Laine has a long history of public service including 10 years on the Columbia Heights School Board and currently serves on the Columbia Heights Charter Commission.  She has also provided 6 years of leadership to the Parent Commission. Carolyn has deep roots in Columbia Heights as a resident and homeowner for 30 years and the mother of five children, all of whom graduated from Columbia Heights High School; She holds a B.A. from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and an M.A. from St. Mary’s University.

Katherine Knuth (DFL – 50B)
Kate was born and raised in New Brighton and is currently working as an Environmental Education Specialist at Hamline University. She studied Biology and Philosophy at the University of Chicago and Biodiversity Conservation at Oxford University. She is an active member of her community, serving on the New Brighton Parks, Recreation and Environment Commission and as a volunteer with the Woodlawn After School Kids Program. She was the founding President of the Boy Scouts of America Venturing Crew #367, which is a youth development initiative for young men and women.

Scott Kranz (DFL – 51A)
Scott Kranz is a graduate of the University of Saint Thomas with a B.A. in Social Studies and secondary education and received an M.A. in Education from St. Mary’s University. Scott teaches social studies at Spring Lake Park High School, coaches youth hockey and soccer and runs a small business. Scott and his wife Kristi have two sons.

Tom Tillberry (DFL – 51B)
Tom Tillberry completed both his Bachelors and Masters Degrees at Winona State University. He currently holds the position of counselor at Roseville Area High School where he will be entering his 11th year. Last year, Tom was elected to the Fridley School Board where he served as treasurer. In the past six years, he has worked as a negotiator/member rights leader for Education Minnesota and served as a delegate for the National Education Association. Tom and his wife live in Fridley with their two children.

Bob Dettmer (R – 52A)
Bob was born and raised on a dairy farm in Faribault. After High School, he went on to Bemidji State University where he met and married his wife Colleen, in 1972. Bob graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education in May of 1973 and got his first (and last) teaching and coaching job in Forest Lake, Minnesota, where he has taught ever since. Bob has been Head Wrestling Coach at Forest Lake High School since 1975. Under his leadership, the teams have accumulated a 361-134-2 record. Bob has received numerous awards as an athlete and as a coach, including: NAIA National Wrestling Champion, NAIA Hall of Fame, Bemidji State Hall of Fame, National Wrestling Hall of Fame and both High School and College "Athlete of the Year" awards. Bob currently serves as a Chief Warrant Officer (CWO-3) in the U. S. Army Reserves, and served for two years on Active Duty in support of “Operation Enduring Freedom” and “Operation Iraqi Freedom” at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and then in Kuwait where he was shipped just prior to the beginning of war.

Paul Gardner (DFL – 53A)
For the past eight years, Paul Gardner has been the Executive Director of the Recycling Association of Minnesota, which has given him an extensive amount of experience working with environmentalists, government entities and businesses. As a state legislator, Paul looks to improve state government by building bipartisan coalitions to prevent partisan gridlock from occurring at the Capitol.

Carol McFarlane (R – 53B)
Carol’s background includes 25 years of experience working with numerous community organizations, including: the White Bear School Board, WBL Area Educational Foundation Board, 916Foundation Past President and Board Member, White Bear Area Alumni Assn. Founding President, MICAH - Northeast Chapter Co-Chair,and many other organizations and committees. Carol lists excellence in education, fiscal responsibility and investing in small businesses as legislative priorities in Minnesota.

Julie Bunn (DFL – 56A)
Julie is an applied economist with twenty years of government, academic, and civic experience conducting, and interpreting policy research related to economic development, labor markets, land use, urban planning, and environment and resources issues. She received her Masters and Ph.D. Degrees from Stanford University. Prior to Stanford, she worked at the U.S. Department of Labor. During the 1990s, she was a professor at Macalester College. Since leaving academia in 2000, Julie has been an active community volunteer. During a time of significant challenges for the City, she served for four years on the Lake Elmo Planning Commission. Julie and her husband have one daughter, and they reside in Lake Elmo.

Marsha Swails (DFL – 56B)
Marsha is an award-winning English teacher at Woodbury High School and a 20-year resident of Woodbury. She has a B.A. in English / Secondary Education from Graceland University and an M.F.A. in Writing from Hamline University. As a state legislator, Marsha looks to improve state government by building bipartisan coalitions to prevent partisan gridlock from occurring at the Capitol.

Karla Bingham (DFL – 57A)
Karla Bingham is a lifelong resident of Cottage Grove with deep family roots in the district. She was elected to Cottage Grove City Council in 2004, and works as a paralegal in the Property Crimes Division of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. Bingham holds a Bachelors Degree as a Paralegal with minors in Sociology and Political Science from Winona State University.

Augustine Willie Dominguez  (DFL – 58A)
Augustine Willie Dominguez is a lifetime resident of District 58B. He has worked for nonprofits serving low income residents in Minneapolis for the past 27 years, and is currently a consultant to local community organizations. Willie has four children, 12 grandchildren and 19 siblings.

Linda Slocum (DFL 63B)
Linda Slocum received a B.A. from Simpson College and has done graduate work from Augsburg College. She spent 18 years working as a middle school teacher and has worked as a Union steward for Local 59. Linda has been highly active in politics for over 30 years as a grassroots organizer in the DFL and as a DFL Delegate at the Precinct, District and State levels. She has shown a strong community commitment by serving on the Minnesota Commission on Crime Prevention and Control as well as serving as the Vice Chair of the Human Services Commission.

Erin Murphy (DFL – 64A)
Originally from Wisconsin, Erin put herself through college and embarked upon a career in nursing in 1985. She practiced medical surgical and operating room nursing in Marshfield, Wisconsin. She moved to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1988 and practiced OR nursing at the University of Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis. Building on her clinical and advocacy skills, Erin joined the staff of the Minnesota Nurses Association where she worked as an organizer and lobbyist. She went on to serve as Legislative Director for Attorney General Humphrey and Community Relations Director at the Department of Children, Families and Learning. She returned to MNA in 2001 as Executive Director where she leads an organization of 18,000 registered nurses and a staff of 42. Erin, her husband Joe and their two daughters live in the Summit Hill neighborhood in St. Paul.


Minnesota House Leadership Update

House Democrats met last night to elect new leadership after taking control of the House on Tuesday.  Margaret Anderson Kelliher was elected Speaker of the House.  Kelliher has been serving as the House Minority Leader since Matt Entenza stepped down to run for Attorney General.  After leading her caucus to pick-up nineteen House seats Kelliher was unanimously elected to the top spot in the House.  Margaret Anderson Kelliher will be the second female Speaker of the House after Dee Long whose Minneapolis House seat Kelliher currently occupies. 

House Democrats picked Tony Sertich of Chisholm as their Majority Leader.  Sertich had traveled around the state helping out new Democratic candidates.  He also brings a rural background to the caucus leadership.  Joe Atkins of Inver Grove Heights was also running for the post. 

Minnesota Senate Leadership Update 

Senator Larry Pogemiller has been named as the Senate DFL’s new Majority Leader.  Pogemiller will replace the Senate’s current Majority Leader, Dean Johnson, who lost his race for re-election on Tuesday.

Larry Pogemiller represents Minneapolis and is currently serving his 7th term in office.  He is currently the chair of the Tax Committee and has been known for his confrontational style. 

Also considered contenders for the post were Senators Don Betzold of Fridley, Tom Bakk of Cook, Keith Langseth of Glyndon, Ann Rest of New Hope, Steve Murphy of Red Wing and Larry Pogemiller of Minneapolis.  If Margaret Anderson-Kelliher is elected Speaker of the House, as has been predicted, then that will mean that Democrats from Minneapolis will hold the two top spots. 

Also elected today:

Senator Tarryl Clark was elected Assistant Majority Leader.

Senator Tom Bakk was named Chair of Senate Taxes.

Senator Richard Cohen is Chair of Senate Finance.

Senator Jim Metzen has been elected President of the Senate.

2006 Minnesota Election Results

In this midterm election, Minnesota followed the national trend of a Democratic surge by holding the US Senate race, winning a Congressional race, picking up three Constitutional offices and winning control of the State House.  Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty was able to prevent a Democratic sweep by winning re-election. 

U.S. Senate

Democratic Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar easily beat Representative Mark Kennedy to become Minnesota’s first elected female Senator.  Klobouchar led throughout the campaign handily winning by a 58% to 38% margin. 

Congressional Races

The biggest news of the night from Minnesota’s eight Congressional Districts was Democrat Tim Walz’s defeat of Congressman Gil Gutknecht in Minnesota’s First Congressional District.  Republicans were able to hold onto the Sixth Congressional District with State Senator Michele Bachmann defeating child safety advocate Patty Wetterling.  State Representative Keith Ellison handily won the race in the Fifth Congressional District to replace outgoing Congressman Martin Sabo.  Ellison will be the first Muslim elected to Congress. 


Polling up until the election showed the two gubernatorial candidates in a very tight race.  The race remained very close all night with no one conceding.  In the end, Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty was able to beat Attorney General Mike Hatch by just over one percent of the vote.  Hatch is giving his concession speech this morning. 

Constitutional Offices

Democrats won all three of Minnesota’s constitutional offices.  Solicitor General Lori Swanson (DFL) handily won the race for Attorney General beating State Representative Jeff Johnson (R) by over ten percentage points.  Republican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer was defeated by Democrat Mark Ritchie and Republican State Auditor Patricia Anderson was defeated by Democrat Rebecca Otto. 

Minnesota Senate

Minnesota’s Senate Democrats were able to add to their majority by tentatively picking up six seats in this election.  The big news of the night was the loss of Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson.  Despite the loss of Johnson and another Democratic Senator the Senate Democrats were able to increase their majority by defeating seven incumbent Republican Senators and by picking up an open seat, leaving the Senate with approximately 44 Democrats and 23 Republicans.  The incumbent State Senators who were defeated are:

Carrie Ruud (4- R)
Cal Larson (10-R)
Dallas Sams (11- DFL)
Dean Johnson (13- DFL)
Sean Nienow (17-R)
Mike McGinn (38-R)
Bill Belanger (40-R)
Mady Reiter (53-R)
Brian LeClair (56-R)

Minnesota House

Democrats took control of the Minnesota House, picking up around 19 seats last night.  Going into the election the House was comprised of 68 Republicans and 66 Democrats.  It looks like the House Democrats were able to defeat twelve Republican incumbents and pick up six open seats giving them a stunning 85-49 seat majority.  The incumbents who were defeated in the House were:

Judy Soderstrom (8B-R)
Paul Gazelka (12A-R)
Greg Blaine (12B-R)
Pete Nelson (17B-R)
Ray Cox (25B-R)
Greg Davids (31B-R)
Lloyd Cybart (37A-R)
Tim Wilkin (38A-R)
Duke Powell (40A-R)
Phil Krinkie (53A-R)
Mike Charron (56A-R)
Karen Klinzing (56B-R)

Minnesota election results can be found at:

Primary Election

Minnesota’s primary election cleared the field for candidates to focus on the election in November.  Governor Tim Pawlenty and DFL challenger Attorney General Mike Hatch both had no problem making it though their primaries.  The most suspenseful race of the night was the DFL primary for Attorney General.  Solicitor General Lori Swanson beat DFL-endorsed State Senator Steve Kelley and former Congressman Bill Luther.  Lori Swanson campaigned on a pledge to continue the work that Hatch has done to be a watchdog against big business and especially the health care industry. 

In Minnesota’s fifth congressional district, DFL-endorsed candidate Keith Ellison won the primary contest to replace Representative Martin Sabo.  Ellison defeated former DFL- party chair Mike Erlandson and former State Senator Ember Reichott Junge.  The district’s strong DFL leaning all but assures Ellison a win in November.  If elected in November, Keith Ellison will be the first Muslim to serve in Congress and Minnesota’s first black congressman. 

All five legislative incumbents with a primary challenge were successful last night.  Attached is an updated list of the 2006 candidates. 

State Fair Poll Results

The Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate released their results from their 2006 Minnesota State Fair Polls.  Every year the House Public Information office and the Senate Information office survey fair-goers on a number of issues.

This year the House of Representatives surveyed 6,580 fair-goers.  Among the results, over seventy percent of respondents were supportive of a statewide smoking ban.  Fifty-two percent of survey takers opposed a ten-cent increase in the gas tax.  There was also strong support by 67% of respondents to provide incentives for new graduates in dentistry, family practice medicine or pharmacy in exchange for practicing in greater Minnesota for three years.  The full results from the House Poll can be viewed here.

The Senate survey had 4,524 respondents to their poll this year.  Sixty-one percent of poll-takers were in favor of a half-cent seven count Metro Area sales tax to fund transit projects.  When asked what the top priority for state spending should be when Minnesota has a budget surplus, the top choice was K-12 education with 30% of respondents picking it.  The next most popular choice was increased spending on health and human services programs followed closely by increasing the budget reserve.  The full results from the House Poll can be viewed here.

Inter-American Development Bank

U.S. Senator Norm Coleman and the International Development Bank President Luis Alberto Morengo are holding a breakfast briefing on the latest developments in Latin America.  The information will include priority areas of the International Development Bank and related business opportunities.  The Inter-American Development Bank (IDR) was established in 1959 to help spread economic and social development in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Through the end of 2005, the bank had approved more than $137 billion in loans and guarantees to finance projects as well as $2.1 billion in grants and contingent recovery technical cooperation financing.  The breakfast will be on Monday, November 13 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Windows on Minnesota in Minneapolis.  For more information please contact Rachel Olsen at 651-297-4227 or email at

Minnesota Mission to Southeast Asia

The Minnesota Trade Office is teaming up with Wisconsin to lead 10-15 companies on a business development mission to Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines from February 3-14th.  The trip is aimed towards environmental technology and information technology companies.  At each stop there will be tailored industry briefings, U.S. Embassy-sponsored networking events, host government briefings and site visits. 

9/12/06 Update
Minnesota Primary

Minnesota’s primary election is scheduled for September 12th.  The two major party gubernatorial candidates have a primary as well as primaries in several other races.  Governor Tim Pawlenty is being challenged in the Republican primary by Sue Jeffers. Jeffers is a Minneapolis bar owner and is running as a conservative challenger.  DFL- endorsed gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch is facing State Senator Becky Lourey in the primary.  Lourey decided to run in the primary after not receiving the DFL endorsement in June. 

The Attorney General Race primary will be an interesting one to watch.  State Senator Steve Kelley received the DFL-endorsement a few weeks ago.  He is being challenged by Solicitor General Lori Swanson, and former Congressman Bill Luther.  On the Republican side of the race, Jeff Johnson the Republican endorsed candidate is facing a primary challenge by Sharon Anderson who won the GOP primary in 1994. 

The most watched primary contents will likely be the 5th Congressional District.  The DFL primary will likely determine who will replace Congressman Martin Sabo.  The four DFLers running in the primary are: State Representative Keith Ellison, former DFL party chair Mike Erlandson, former State Senator Ember Reichgott Junge, and Minneapolis City Council Member Paul Ostrow. 

State Legislative incumbents with a primary challenge are: Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson (DFL- Willmar), Senator Paul Koering (R-Fort Ripley), Senator Mee Moua (D-St. Paul), Representative Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan), and Representative Neil Peterson (R-Bloomington). 

House DFL Back to Basics Agenda

House Democratic leaders have announced their back to basics agenda that they are focusing on for next session.  With a chance to take the majority in the Minnesota House in November their plan includes health coverage for all children and providing all-day kindergarten throughout the state.  Public schools who want to offer all-day kindergarten would receive additional funds under their plan.  The cover-all-children health insurance initiative would be achieved through putting some of the state’s 68,000 uninsured children into MinnesotaCare.  The House DFL caucus is also looking to reduce property taxes, reduce college tuition and dedicate funding to environmental programs.  Specifics on how they were going to pay for the $530,000 biennium cost were not as specific but House leaders said they would use a possible budget surplus, reduce corporate tax exemptions and employ more aggressive tax compliance efforts.  The transportation portion of their plan will not be announced until after the election, when voters decide whether to constitutionally dedicate motor vehicle sales tax proceeds to transportation projects. 

Alternative Fuel Use

Governor Pawlenty announced that State Agencies, the Metropolitan Council, and the Metropolitan Airports Commission are working to expand their use of renewable fuels and alternative energy.  Metro Transit is planning on adding 150 next-generation hybrid buses.  They will also double the biodiesel content of Metro Transit’s fuel supply.  The MAC has installed an E-85 fuel tank at MSP for use by its ground transportation vehicles.  Governor Pawlenty’s Smart Fleet initiative has increased E-85 use in state vehicles by 53% in the past year.  Pawlenty signed an executive order to reduce the state government’s use of gasoline 25% by 2010 and 50% by 2015.  The reductions are being achieved through an increased use of E-85 and the purchase of more fuel-efficient and alternative fuel vehicles.

Legislative Website

Minnesota’s Legislative Website was just awarded the NCSL Online Democracy Award.  The award was created by NCSL’s Legislative Information and Communication Staff Section and the National Association of Legislative Technology.  Minnesota’s website was chosen because of its design and content that makes its user friendly.  Specifically noted were the site’s search ability, use of new technologies such as RSS feeds and its youth page.  The website is at:

Filings Close

The deadline for filing for office in Minnesota was yesterday.  The big news of the day was DFL Attorney General Candidate Matt Entenza’s announcement that he was dropping out of the race.  The announcement created a flurry of speculation yesterday with three big name democrats ultimately filing for the seat.  State Senator Steve Kelly, former Congressman Bill Luther, and Solicitor Attorney General Lori Swanson all filed in the wake of Entenza’s withdrawal.  The DFL central committee will meet to endorse a candidate before the DFL primary in September. 

MVST Amendment

The only state-wide ballot question on the November ballots will be to dedicate the motor vehicle sales tax (MVST) proceeds to public transit and highways.  Currently none of the funds raised by the MVST are truly dedicated to transportation funding.  The amendment provides for a five year phase-in by increasing the funding $300 million a year.  It provides that at least 40% of the MVST funds will be used for public transit.  The Business community and the Minnesota Chamber have committed to raising $1.5 million to support this ballot question.  More information on the campaign can be found at:

Interim Commissioners Named

Governor Pawlenty has named two interim commissioners to serve through the end of the year.  Cal Ludeman was named Acting Commissioner of the Department of Human Services and Brad Moore was named the Acting Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.  Ludeman has been the state’s employee relations commissioner since 2003.  He will take over the Department of Human Services from Kevin Goodno who resigned this month.  DHS is the largest state agency and provides health care, welfare and social services.  Brad Moore is currently the assistance commissioners of the Department of Natural Resources.  He will replace PCA Commissioner Sheryl Corrigan who resigned last month.  The PCA is charged with protecting the state’s air, land and water. 

Important 2006 Election Dates

September 12- State Primary
November 7- State General Election

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