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Election night brings historic wins

State's labor movement helps win back
labor-friendly majorities in MN Legislature

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, November 23, 2012

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

ST. PAUL — Labor union members joined in the election night celebration November 6 hosted by the Minnesota DFL Party at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown St. Paul. As the night progressed, news came of victories first for U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and then President Barack Obama, followed by news that the DFL had regained majorities in the Minnesota Senate and House.

For the state’s labor movement, winning back a labor-friendly majority in the state legislature was the top priority of the 2012 elections.

The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation had targeted eight legislative races, helping labor-endorsed candidates win six of the eight races.

Later in the evening, vote totals showed that the two constitutional amendments on the ballot — opposed by labor and the DFL — were headed for defeat.

At the Crowne Plaza, several union organizations had rented hospitality suites adjoining the reception area and displayed their banners, including the Minnesota AFL-CIO, IBEW Local 292, Laborers, Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, Painters and Allied Trades District Council 82, and SEIU Minnesota State Council.

Governor Mark Dayton addressed the crowd at the Crowne Plaza about 10:00 p.m. He said: “People ask me what will happen with a DFL governor and a DFL legislature — and I say, ‘progress.’”

At 10:13 p.m., the TV networks began declaring projections that President Obama had been re-elected. The crowd roared.

Said Jeff Blodgett, manager of all three of Paul Wellstone’s U.S. Senate campaigns and manager of the Obama campaign in Minnesota: “It was about grassroots organizing versus the Super PACs and guess who won — we won!” He added: “It’s about the American Dream and the story of middle class families who want to work hard and want a chance to get ahead.”

IBEW Local 292 was heavily involved in the 2012 campaign, recruiting members to doorknock and phone bank in the legislative races targeted by the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation.

Local 292 political director Andy Snope commented: “We’ve got to hope that what we can show our membership is that when they’re informed, when they volunteer, when we join together, we can get the job done.”

“Getting the job done” was a common theme for the labor-endorsed candidates running in the eight legislative races targeted by the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation. Here are the results in those races:

In Senate District 36 in Brooklyn Park, labor-endorsed DFLer John Hoffman defeated Republican incumbent Benjamin Kruse with 53.1 percent of the vote.

In House District 36A in Champlin, labor-endorsed Grace Baltich fell just 456 votes short of winning an open seat — out of a total of 20, 961 votes cast.

Labor-endorsed DFLer Alice Johnson won election in Senate District 37 with 53.23 percent of the vote, defeating incumbent Republican Pam Wolf.

In Senate District 49 in Edina, the targeted labor and DFL-endorsed candidates won the Senate seat and both House seats — a first!

Political newcomer Melisa Franzen ran with labor and DFL endorsement for the Senate District 49 seat and defeated Republican Representative Keith Downey, winning 52.74 percent of the vote.

In House District 49A, Downey’s old seat, former Republican Representative Ron Erhardt ran for the first time as a DFL candidate and defeated Republican Bill Glahn with 55.79 percent of the vote.

Former Representative Paul Rosenthal, running with labor and DFL endorsement, won back the open House District 49B seat, earning 53.31 percent of the vote and defeating Republican Terry Jacobson.

Political newcomer Laurie McKendry, running as the labor and DFL-endorsed candidate, lost her bid for the Senate District 48 seat in Eden Prairie and Minnetonka to incumbent Republican David Hann. Hann won 51.32 percent to 48.58 percent, a margin of 1,271 votes.

In the race for House District 48A in Minnetonka, incumbent Republican Kirk Stensrud lost to labor and DFL-endorsed Yvonne Selcer, who won by only 202 votes.

Election night photos: facebook.com/minneapolisunions


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