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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

52% Votes Reported, Tarryl Clark Has Comfortable Lead Over Dan Ochsner

Focusing on abortion and gay marriage aren't enough of a strategy to get a win. Results here. Tarryl is leading by over 900 votes at this time.

Matt Abe isn't too happy about the Eck Wreck.

It seems that the only things that will get Minnesota Republicans, from the party leadership at the state and BPOUs to the grassroots, serious about winning elections is a Democrat governor and a DFL-controlled House and Senate.

Read Ramsey County Judge George T. Stephenson's "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" from last Friday, posted on the mn-politics-discuss Yahoo! Group. Judge Stephenson's ruling is clear and correct. The entire endorsement process suffered a system-wide failure.

The Pioneer Press quoted House Speaker Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon), "I feel real bad for the citizens of St. Cloud. They will not have a choice now. The write-in option now might be the only way to go." Who will be held accountable for this train wreck? The DFL had nothing to do with it; all they had to do was stand back and smile. Of course, this sort of thing happens in both parties, it's just the Republicans' turn.

Matt also suggested that donors are going to close their checkbooks. My personal opinion is Ron Carey should take some responsibility - but it looks like he passes the buck of blame to the Senate and House caucus.

UPDATE: According to AP, Ox has conceded. The results of this special election are being trumpeted by the "Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee". I've never heard of that group.

Results - with one precinct remaining:

Becker: 792
Ox: 4267
Clark: 6320
Writeins: 45

From the AP:

"Whenever you have a write-in situation, it's virtually unheard-of that a write-in candidate will win," said Mark Drake, spokesman for the state Republican party. "It's the political equivalent of a 'Hail Mary' pass, that race."

The election fills the seat vacated by DFL Rep. Joe Opatz, who left to become interim president of Central Lakes College in Brainerd.

The House district covers the core of St. Cloud, including St. Cloud State University, whose students are currently on break.

Drake said the turmoil in the House race cost the GOP the Senate race.

"The Ek situation clearly created confusion among the voters and drowned out our message (in the Senate race) that Tarryl Clark is a liberal who is out of touch with the district," Drake said.

That's self-serving. The Ek situation hurt, but Dan Ochsner's campaign also had a number of self-inflicted wounds. It was notable that the St Cloud Chamber of Commerce took a pass on endorsing in this race. This was a big loss for the MCCL which was Ochsner's one big endorsement - and this was a loss for the MCCL in an area where they have strength.

But Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, said it's only the Republicans' fault for picking a House candidate who didn't live in the district. He said Clark won her Senate race because she focused on issues that matter to voters.

"I do believe it sent a strong message again that folks in Minnesota care about education, health care, transportation and the environment, and the divisive issues that Republicans have been using come in second," Johnson said. "It's the core issues that continue to win DFL seats with us."

Clark had already run for the seat twice, losing by just 496 votes in 2002.

Republican Sen. Dave Kleis won a race for St. Cloud mayor in November, prompting him to resign from the Senate seat he'd held since 1994.

The district takes in St. Cloud as well as a mostly suburban area to the west and south.

The special election won't change the balance of power in the closely divided state House or Senate. The DFL majority in the Senate improved to 38-29, including Sen. Sheila Kiscaden, IP-Rochester, who caucuses with the Democrats, while the House GOP maintained its one-seat advantage.

This pretty much means the marriage amendment in Minnesota is dead.